Maine bluesman Samuel James performs Aug. 1 Concert on the Quad

Portland-based blues musician Samuel James. Photograph by Jon Reece.

Portland-based blues musician Samuel James. Photograph by Jon Reece.

Enjoy the blues of acclaimed Maine singer-songwriter Samuel James at Bates College’s new outdoor music series, Concerts on the Quad.

Samuel James will perform solo at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1, on Bates’ Historic Quad, at College Street and Campus Avenue. Admission to the series is free, and audience members are encouraged to bring picnics and chairs or blankets.

Taking the place of the college’s Midsummer Lakeside Concerts, the new series continues Bates’ long and popular tradition of presenting outdoor music for the whole family. For more information, please call 207-786-6400.

The series concludes for the summer on Aug. 15 with Francine Reed and her band.

Winner of the R&B, soul and blues category in the Portland Phoenix’s 2012 Best Music Awards, James was described by the French edition of Rolling Stone magazine as a “guardian of lightning.” He has also been called “part Bill Withers, part Tom Waits, part James Brown, part Leo Kottke and part P.T. Barnum.” Learn more.

A deeply soulful singer, virtuoso instrumentalist and captivating storyteller, James has spent recent years touring North America and Europe. He comes from a line of performers dating back to the 1890s, including dancers, storytellers, a session jazz pianist and porch-stomping guitar thumpers. His songwriting encompasses themes from the heavenly flights and evil depths of love to tales of true and bizarre folk heroes.

James played Guitar Man in the Penobscot Theatre Company’s 2010 production of Spunk, the Maine premiere of a critically acclaimed play adapted from stories by Zora Neale Hurston.

He has released three recordings conceived as a trilogy, all on the Northern Blues label. Of his debut, 2008’s Songs Famed for Sorrow and Joy, Allmusic Guide wrote, “In an era when popular music is becoming increasingly perfect-sounding, and robotic, [James] provides a much needed alternative.”

For Rosa, Maeve and Noreen followed in 2009. Completing the trilogy is 2012’s And for the Dark Road Ahead, praised for transposing a mid-20th-century country-blues aesthetic into the high-tech present.

James has performed at music festivals from New Mexico to Ottawa to Poland, and at venues including San Francisco’s Biscuits & Blues, Montreal’s Club Soda, the Green Note in London and Johnny D’s in Somerville, Mass.

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