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If ever anyone was destined to have a Fender Telecaster strapped around his neck and plugged into a Vox AC30, it’s James Oliver. He is one of the chosen few who can easily join the ranks of Wilco Johnson, John Fogerty, Bill Kirchen or Robbie McIntosh.

When we first encountered him with his tight three-piece combo, we were stunned - and thrilled.

Coming from that school that fed from the blues greats to spearhead the British R’n’B boom of the ‘60s and give us national treasures such The Stones and Dowliners Sect - and later Dr Feelgood and The Inmates – he also has that other vital component of being naturally gifted.

The hot players on the rockabilly side of the fence also provided him with struts and licks and self-confident style and attitude, and he delivers a perfect honky tonk twang. It’s an exhilarating ride that’s Ray Condo or Backyard Devils-good. And, there’s no real need to dip in to copyist territory; the creativity may be driven by all of the above, but the originality stands up against anything and everything they each produced.

No wonder then that in 2019, this particular James Gang put more road miles than most on the clock as, in such constant demand, they played over 260 gigs, each time winning willing conscripts to join Oliver’s Army.

In 2020, he puts out a full album of original material and in the process throws the gauntlet down, preparing to take on the world.

Catch the band at some of the biggest and best outdoor festivals in 2021 and look out for them too in venues that are programmed by the real switched on bookers on the circuit. There are plans to take the band to the USA.

Wales has given us some of the greatest gems – Geraint Watkins and Andy Fairweather Low among the best.

Consider this: by the time he’d reached his 20th birthday, music writers were already conferring this new kid on the block with “legendary” status.
 
       
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