James is one of those very special and rare musicians whose performances are about people more than music. More
Dr. Debra Lynn
Music Professor and Composer, Manchester University
This post is highly unlike me, but James did some things today that you can't put words to, captivated a room, deeply affected a small and lucky group of people, and made me realize I have a long way to go.
Jazz, music theory, low brass and World Music Faculty, MSU Billings
Thank you for bringing healing music that helped unify the women and their hearts. You rock!
Recreation Manager for Passages
Your connection with the families and staff is unparalleled, and we value your presence!!(See More)
Outlaw Ranch Director
My staff adores you - you inspire them to write and express themselves. That picking party is a BIG deal every summer.
Executive Director, Rainbow Trail Ltheran Camp
James Hersch worked with ease even with some of our most challenging students. He promoted music making in a whole new light as the students realized they were writing the lyrics to an original song that was not only entertaining, but told a story, too. He took ideas from everyone, making sure everyone got a part in the song-writing process. Each song reflects the interactions of the students and James throughout the process.
In this Colorado mountain town, maybe ten years ago, I met Tiny Striegel. After singing for an audience of all generations, I was drawn to the little white haired ball of energy with the knock out smile.
We talked about words; her love of poetry and my attention to lyrics that tell stories. I learned of her status as published poet and also her reputaion as local prankster. She sent me her books of poetry and I began corresponding with her.
I found certain poems like "Peaceful Valley" and "Have Faith, My Friend" were lyrical to me, so I decided to surprise her with song versions I could record and send to her on CD.
Her grateful response made me fall in love with this Tiny lady, and we
stayed in touch with more Tiny poem/songs. In 2017, she couldn't find the strength to leave her little house on the hill,
so before my concert, I dropped in on her. I sang her some songs and she showed me her artwork (one pencil drawing pictured below). Poet, artist, sod hut dweller, nurse in St Louis, widow after a few years of marraige, wife again, town treasure... so many chapters in her story.
I will not see her in that little house on the hill again. Her time came in August of 2018. I have her books and poems within reach on my desk, and her smile even closer in my thoughts.
Through this unmarked door in backstreet Brooklyn, up a staircase, across a catwalk on the roof (tucked away doesn't capture it), lies a vestige of history, a museum I guess, of American guitar culture. Find old Mr Martin and Mr Gibson ready to transport you back with smokey sweet sounds that old wood makes. Long gone NYC luthiers are represented too. You can buy a 1920s box for $1.5K, a special Gibson L2 for $4.5K, or a Southern Jumbo for $25K. And they WANT you to try them all.
So play guitars down on Bleeker St, a couple blocks from Dylan's old apartment, because that's history. But you want to come to Retrofret in Brooklyn if you want to play, and maybe buy, a vintage guitar.
I wait in a barn for groups of kids. They're shepherded to me by counselors for a songwriting experience. I never let myself get ahead of the moment; never decide in my mind what song we'll write before they arrive. I know they'll have something to say. We'll make a song together in 30 minutes and sing it for the camp in an hour. All I can do is believe in it and do my best.
Today I saw some part of myself. The thirteen year old in my songwriting group has clear views about how he wants his music to sound, and truth be told, is far ahead of thirteen year old me. He easily handles his electric guitar that tells the truth. But he listens too. He is just as jazzed by the ideas of others as he is about making his own ideas known. I've watched as my young songwriters honor each other with their generous compliments, and by their joy when another moves the group forward with an idea. I have been blessed by these 8 young people in my songwriting workshop.