James started his music career at two years old through Suzuki violin lessons at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville. He continued his studies with ten years of private piano lessons along with studies on oboe, trumpet, and voice up through the age of fourteen. He received a guitar for his fourteenth birthday, and never looked back. By fifteen he was playing guitar, mandolin and bass, and began performing with the St. Louis local group, City Park String Band. During his nine- year stretch with that group, James finished a bachelor’s degree in music at Webster University. James has spent the last nine years teaching lessons at Music Folk, the Folk School of St. Louis, and a few other local stores, and can be seen heading the Bug Tussel Bluegrass Band.