Songwriter, music composer, concert performer and poet.
Keith has become one of the most active and inventive concert artists currently performing in the UK.
A very accomplished sound man with a BBC Maida Vale background, he worked for more than a decade as a record producer (1991 – 2004), working on Albums with many of this Country’s profoundly talented musicians and writers.
Realising his definite preference for live performance and following a detailed study, 2001 witnessed Keith begin a UK wide tour of concerts based entirely on his love of the songwriter, Nick Drake. As Nick’s music had never been heard live by today’s music audience (he died in 1974) these concerts soon became a huge success; over the course of 17 years, Keith has played over 1500 of these shows in the UK, Ireland, Holland, Spain, Italy and France, all of Nick’ Colleges and almost every British acoustic music festival including Glastonbury.
On from this, Keith has performed many different concerts over the past decade, each one centres on studies and transcriptions of revered poets and writers and includes a significant amount of biographical and anecdotal material. The most notable of these are 2 CD albums and many successful concerts featuring the poetry of Lorca set to Keith’s music – The Gypsy Ballads 1927 and Poet in New York 1930. Other important projects are a CD album and concert tour featuring a collection of Poetry by Dylan Thomas and an ongoing busy schedule of bio-doc concerts spanning over 7 years featuring Keith’s interpretive approach to songs by Leonard Cohen.
Keith is fiercely independent and therefore his career has for many years, existed in a parallel universe, almost under wraps, esoteric and secretive. He has enjoyed very little radio exposure, he doesn’t fit easily into any music category, has never signed a recording or publishing deal. Despite this, he has released 13 CD Albums, all self-produced and self-published. The most recent from 2017 is Tenderness Claws which features all settings of poetry to music including work by Jack Kerouac, Pete Brown (1960s British beat poet) William Blake, Allen Ginsberg, Federico Garcia Lorca and some of Keith’s own. This time, and rather unplanned, he teamed up with the amazing producer / sound artist, Branwen Munn.
A double Album – Captured. The Best of Keith James – has been released this year featuring 33 songs taken from each of his Album releases over the past 30 years.
Keith lives in a writing retreat, way up in the hills of Powys, Wales and some months of each year in Andalucía. Since the mid ‘70s, his third home has been the Island of Naxos, Greece. He currently performs around 100 concerts per annum in Theatres, Art Centres and occasionally in other inspiring boutique spaces such as Galleries, Arts Cafes, Poetry and Literary festivals.
His brand new project of poetry set to music is the most exciting one yet! Keith has chosen to work with the astonishing work of Pablo Neruda, Maya Angelou, Kahlil Gibran, Frida Kahlo and Kate Tempest. Recording has already started; the Album will be released in March 2019 with concerts also planned for next year.
He is also currently compiling a volume of his own poetry to be published shortly along with some sporadic work on a rather surreal and somewhat comedic novel.
Currently in the process of completing a book about the eerie corners of a writer’s mind as they struggle for affirmation and the rent. The volume also includes much of Keith’s poetry; some that have become songs and some not. He lives on the south west coast of Wales.
You must read if you find the right moment in your life
White Bicycles – Joe Boyd
Hold your own – Kate Tempest
Collected Poems – Sylvia Plath
Hemingway – Aubrey Dillon-Malone
Round and round in my car
Court and Spark – Joni Mitchell
The Hissing of Summer Lawns – Joni Mitchell
Hejira – Joni Mitchell
Blue – Joni Mitchell
Came within an inch of certain death (all involving dilapidated vehicles)...
May 1981 Hampshire
Steering rack broke on Morris 1000 traveller. Drove through a farm gate at some speed, down a bank, within inches of a large tree, straight into a river (full PA system and guitars etc in the back)
Jan 1988 Brazil
Drove a beaten up Series 1 Beetle belonging to a nun in between two enormous USA style trucks on the A1 national trunk road from Porto Alegre (this road, at the time was were one is offered a carriageway for each direction and a middle one for dare devil overtaking in either direction - the poor little Beetle actually touched both trucks by a hair)
Aug 1991 Santorini
Parked a hire Suzuki Jeep in a gravel car park just outside of ia on the island in Santorini, Greece. The gravel car park is a the top of a sheer and vicious drop of hundreds of meters straight down to jagged rocks and dashing waves. At the very moment when I parked the bag of spanners I discovered that the hand break was entirely non functional - I can't bring myself to tell you the rest as it still makes me anxious to this day