The Back Story

James Webb

Singer | Songwriter | Storyteller | Performer

James Webb has covered a lot of ground in his years as a professional musician. He’s led Big Bands and Jazz groups, transitioned through a love affair with Country Rock and finally found the best version of himself as a story-based Singer-Songwriter.

In the Beginning

James started his career in Melbourne working with Big Bands, dance bands, club and restaurant Jazz Trios. He led a band that featured regularly on Graham Kennedy’s ‘In Melbourne Tonight’ and shared stages with international artists including Helen Shapiro, Jimmy Edwards and Mark Dinning.

His ‘day job’ then took him to Brisbane where he met a female Country singer who was looking for a guitarist and a band. James put the band together and they performed many gigs throughout the River City, most booked by the Musicians Union.

formed Indian pacific band

James subsequently returned to Melbourne and landed a Saturday night town hall gig as compere and vocalist with the same band for which he’d previously held the guitar chair. 

Completing his collection of residencies in East Coast capital cities, James moved on to Sydney in the mid-‘70s where he played with many bands, until eventually forming his own Country Rock outfit called Indian Pacific. That’s when he first expanded into songwriting and recording. Indian Pacific had a strong following of fans and appeared two years running at the Tamworth Country Music Festival

A Young Life Shining

Around this time, catastrophe struck. James’ younger son, Lucas, died tragically on the 22nd of March 1981. He was just shy of his 9th birthday. His siblings and cousins were similarly young and James worried that their memories of Lucas would be limited by their age and perspective at the time. So he wrote his son’s story, publishing the biography titled ‘A Young Life Shining’ for his family.

Music became one form of escape from the pain for James after Lucas’ death. “I believe it subsequently informed my lyric writing by way of greater reflection and greater emotional awareness”, he says. The song ‘Gungartan’ from the Desperation album is the story of his grief. (By way of explanation, Gungartan is the northernmost of the 2,000 plus metre high peaks in the Snowy Mountains.)

This tragic event put a hold on James’ life for a while and when, with the advent of RBT, the Sydney pub music scene also began to decline, James and Indian Pacific guitarist Phil Beazley, created ‘Indian Pacific Music’, keeping busy providing soundtracks for advertising and corporate events. James later branched out into audio-visual design for corporate events, partnering with Staging Connections (now Encore) to mount events throughout Australia and SE Asia for top tier Australian companies.

Moving On

After moving to the NSW Northern Rivers in 2005, James resumed songwriting and recording. He had by now transitioned through his love affair with Country Rock and found his niche as more of a story-based Singer-Songwriter. At the same time, he became involved in musical theatre.

The Garden Project Collaboration

His 2011 album Desperation spanned both Rock and Folk while recounting stories that still resonate with many people’s lives. More recently he led a collaboration of musicians to create The Garden Project, which he describes as “… one songwriter (James), 15 songs, eight vocalists, 24 musicians, one garden and two years in the making”. The styles on this album encompass Blues, Rock, Country Rock and power ballads.

James is also back performing live, the large number of local ‘Open Mic. Night’ venues up North, providing him with sufficient performance opportunities to keep his hand in.

Career Snapshot

  • Made regular (monthly) appearances on Graham Kennedy’s ‘In Melbourne Tonight’ TV show
  • Shared stages with international artists including Helen Shapiro, Jimmy Edwards and Mark Dinning
  • Played the Tamworth Country Music Festival in consecutive years
  • Released three albums to date
  • Authored the family biography ‘A Young Life Shining’