James Solberg Band
“I knew to play from the heart. When I feel something, my fingertips are just tools to express what’s in my heart, not the other way around.” James Solberg
As a Midwest teenager in the 1960’s, James Solberg played in rock ‘n roll bands. The Rolling Stones led him to Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and the Chicago Blues scene. During the 1970’s, he joined with fellow guitarist Luther Allison and for five years was Allison’s bandleader. During this time, he recorded “Night Life” and “Live in Paris” with Luther. By the early 1980’s, Solberg headed into retirement due to drugs and burnout, and worked as a motorcycle mechanic.
Solberg re-emerged in 1985 and toured with the Legendary Blues Band, which contained the former members of the Muddy Waters Band. In 1987, he toured with the Nighthawks. For the next five years, he settled down in Wisconsin as the owner and house band for the “Stones Throw” blues nightclub.
In early 1993, his old partner Luther Allison, who had been living in Paris, asked him to reunite. They recorded “Soul Fixin’ Man” together and Solberg recorded his first solo CD, “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean”. This was the start of a powerful blues partnership, with Solberg as the bandleader for Allison’s triumphant return to the U.S. They produced the CD “Reckless” and received a W.C. Handy Award for Best Blues Band of the Year in 1997. However, by the end of the year Allison was dead from cancer.
Two months after Allison died, Solberg recorded “LA Blues”, one of the most poignant blues CDs ever recorded. It was his farewell and tribute to Luther Allison. In 1998, the James Solberg Band won the W.C. Handy Award for Best Blues Band of the Year, and Solberg won two W.C. Handy Awards for best Album and Song of the Year. The James Solberg Band continues to tour throughout the U.S., playing the Chicago style blues made famous by the collaboration of Luther Allison and James Solberg.
“Solberg’s gravelly vocals and never-say-die rhythm playing is a rare treat for modern blues lovers. Solberg hone his lost art skills of playing behind such greats as Jimmy Reed, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Sam Lay. Judging by his performance, his years of playing with the masters have paid off.” (M. Swanger, Live Wired).