James Adelsberger, the eldest of two sons, was born in March 1995 and resides in Northern Virginia. His involvement in music began with his family’s frequent visits to his grandparents’ house in rural New Jersey. He says he grew up in a non-musical family so the only exposure he had to musical instruments before grade school was the piano at his grandparents’ house. Enthralled and eager he took a great interest in it and played it every chance he got.
A quick and determined study, he excelled so well in general music class that when he entered grade school, his grandparents drove the piano down to his house to stay. In 2002, in the 2nd Grade, James began taking formal piano lessons from Mr. Arthur Lisi and performed at his first piano recital. Lisi became his music mentor for several years while he continued to develop and explore other music genres and instruments. Rhythms came easily to James, and Lisi, a keen observer of his students, informed James’ parents “you’re not gonna like this... but he needs to be a drummer!”
So, starting in 5th grade James joined the Silverbrook Elementary School Band playing drums and percussion. During that time also gave it a brief go with the clarinet and trumpet. However, percussion would become his primary focus and what he would eventually study in college. Resolute and eager to accomplish, he would progressively and effectively teach himself the guitar, bass guitar, mandolin, ukulele, banjo, and vocals.
James’s tenure in grades 7 to 12 at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia, became a great resource for honing and “perfecting” his instrumental talents. It was here that he joined his first serious band, The Right Condition, then comprised of some of his school friends, Bert Gibbons, Tracy Feerick, and Sean Daugherty, with whom he performed on numerous occasions at various local northern Virginia nightclubs and venues during 2011 and 2012. In 2011 they produced and released “Love Like Fire” a 3-song CD of self-penned songs; 1.Riot, 2.The Meaning, and 3.Love Like Fire. This Pop/Rock first venture into the commercial music world is available from CD Baby and its affiliates.
James’ love for performing was greatly encouraged by his Band Directors, Roy Holder, Michael Luley, and Patrick Smith during his high school years, and by his Orchestra teacher, Elizabeth Reed. He participated in the Symphonic Band, Drum-line, Orchestra, and Jazz Ensemble, and they traveled and performed in several different states where his band-mates and he, collectively and alone, accumulated scores of music awards! Some of the most notable ones for James being “Most Prolific Composer” Fairfax Academy in 2012-2013, “Outstanding Jazz Musician” Lake Braddock Secondary in 2012-2013, “Disney Festival, Outstanding Jazz Soloist” in 2013 at Disney World, “All-Virginia Symphonic Band” (percussion) 2011-2013, Second Place Digital Music Composition, Council of the Arts Competition in 2012, and the Chantilly Jazz All-Star Band (drums) in March 2011.
James says that he is very thankful and grateful to have grown up in such a musically diverse community and had the opportunity to travel and perform in numerous venues with many talented and like-minded musicians. And in spite of his extremely busy schedule he still found time to enjoy his outdoor pleasures, achieve the rank of Eagle Scout in 2010, perform with his Church’s Contemporary Youth Choir for three years (drums, bass, piano, mandolin, and guitar) and as a Percussionist with the Washington Metropolitan Youth Orchestra for two years. He also did volunteer work for youth groups, a Special Needs Religious Education program, worked as a staff member at Fairfax County Therapeutic Recreational Services, and studied AP Music Theory and Music & Computer Technology to mention a select few.
Passionate about music and not one to leave a music stone unturned, between school and non-school performances James taught himself Classical and Jazz composition with the help of his Music Theory teachers, Mary DeMarco and John Graham. He became President of the Tri-M Music Honors Society in 2011-2012, and it was at this juncture that he had his first hint of his future career; Film Composer. A keen observer with a unique ability to musically interpret images, James quickly gained notoriety among his friends and others and his reputation is expanding. Add to the mix his active involvement in music camps and workshops at the George Mason University Honors Jazz Festival in 2012 (drums & guitar), National Jazz Workshop at Shenandoah University in 2011 (drums), George Mason Jazz Camp in 2010 (drums & guitar), and the Institute for the Arts Music Camp in 2009. Even a blind person can see that James is definitely an all-around musician!
Driven by an insatiable music appetite for more outlets and venues to expand and share his talents, he began going to the Saturday night jams at Linda Caldwell’s Coffee House in Occoquan, Virginia around April of 2012 where he met the yodeling cowboy, Mike Johnson. His musical versatility immediately struck a chord with everyone, and they marveled at how easily he adapted to their different musical styles. Particularly Mike Johnson, singer, songwriter and yodeler, who engaged him in some country picking. Encouraged by this and his overall acceptance, James continued to stop in whenever his busy schedule allowed, and a couple of months later on a whim, Mike asked him if he’d be interested in creating some tracks for a couple of his songs. James agreed and was given two songs, “Livin’ Lost Love on the Jukebox Again” and “The Heartaches Are Callin’” the latter a yodeling song, along with several of Mike’s CDs so that he could get a feel for his style. In Mike’s own words, “That was one of the best whims I’ve had in a long time!
There are people who love to play music, and there are people who have to play music. It was very obvious to Mike that James was the latter. He was amazed at how vividly James had captured the feelings in the two songs he gave him to track and saw a lot of potential in future collaborations because this energetic young man had the same quality as his session musicians when he was actively recording in Nashville during the 1980s. A firm believer in the truth of that old saying, "you snooze, you lose" he decided this would be a very prudent time to act.
While preparing a couple more songs for James to create tracks for, Mike offered to produce him on his own CD, but that they had to be Mike Johnson songs. James wisely responded “How much is it going to cost me?” Weeks earlier he had told Mike that he was going into a local studio to record an album, but apparently the cost factor and maybe other production elements kind of killed that project.
Mike told him that he’d cover all the costs and would even set him up on his own CD Baby page and let him keep all of the sales. That he would only have to lay the tracks and produce the masters for each song. James and his father were also told that if it appeared that the project was distracting him from his home and school priorities that he would suspend it until he had more time. With all parties mutually satisfied after Mike explained what each of them were responsible for, and with the approval of James’ father, Bernard Adelsberger, Mike brought James onboard in August 2012 and set the production and promotion wheels in motion. To test the water's James’ first release would be a CD Single, Mike realizing that James’ voice would need a bit of work because he really hadn’t done much formal singing.
On 13 August 2012 Roughshod Records released its 41st CD, Mike Johnson’s Single featuring the two songs James had tracked, “Livin’ Lost Love on the Jukebox Again” & “The Heartaches Are Callin’.” [RCD41-S14082012] Shortly thereafter on 28 August 2013 Mike set up a photo session for James and took several hundred photos from which they would choose James’ CD cover, official portrait, and potential flyers and posters. For his own CD project, James picked “Me and My Sad Self” and “Or You Can Tell Her That You’re Sorry” two beer drinking songs from Mike’s Guitar Songs Vol.5 Acoustic Series “Bad Whiskey, Bad Sex, and Bad Men.” [RCD28-0208] They eventually proved to be a little too much and James asked to change songs. Not wanting to add to the pressure cooker and definitely not wanting lose this very talented musician, Mike agreed. From Guitar Songs Vol.4 “You Never Got to Sing My Songs” a Roger Miller tribute, [RCD27-1207-2] James picked “Back Home Again” and “The Holy River.” These were much more within his vocal range, and typical as with any newcomer, James again began delivering every voice under the sun except his own. [Mike did too when he started out] Mike eventually stepped in and began offering him pointers as well as assuring him that singing doesn’t come natural to everyone. That most people really have to work at it!
Mike also solicited some feedback from some of his talented music friends to help give James a realistic perspective but not discourage him. Janet McBride, the Yodeling Queen, Texas; PJ Price, singer-songwriter, Texas; Peter Annemiek, DePlayer Magazine, the Netherlands; Paul Lawrence, Lawrence Record Shop, Nashville; Rocky Guttmann singer-songwriter, Virginia; Trudy Burke, DJ Make Mine Country Radio, Australia; Sharon Marie Cotton, recording studio owner, California & daughter of Yodeling Carolina Cotton; Dave “Hillbilly Dave” Sichak, music researcher, California; Bob Ellis, singer, Virginia; Bob Everhart, President of National Traditional Country Music Association, Iowa; Rick Franklin, Piedmont Blues Musician, Virginia; Bill Gibson, singer, Maryland; Buzz Goertzen, the Idaho Yodeler, Idaho; John Miner, music researcher, Kentucky; Judy Welden, singer-songwriter, Georgia; Joe Country, the Caribbean Cowboy singer-songwriter, New York; Bill “Two Dogs” Thorne, singer-songwriter, Tennessee; and Betty Preston, Mike Preston’s former manager, New Hampshire.
Sometimes young’uns can be a little head-strong and cocky [weren’t most of us at that age?] and tend to take the Sensei lightly. [wax on-wax off] Mike’s “outside” dose of music reality helped him bring James back down to earth and made it a lot easier for him to get James’ wonderful natural voice as well as vocal consistency.
James took the critiques very well and went at it again, only this time with Mike taking away some of his creative license and restricting him to rehearsing with the demo version of each song from scratch to master. After months of demos under some very extenuating circumstances with the two of them juggling numerous schedules and priorities; school, chores, orchestra tours & shows, two bands, and college auditions, presentable vocals were achieved and the production was completed. On 14 November 2012 Roughshod Records released its 42nd CD, James Adelsberger's CD Single "Back Home Again" & "The Holy River" [RCD42-S14112012]. It’s currently available from CD Baby and its affiliates, as well as directly from Roughshod Records, Lawrence Record Shop in Nashville, Foxes Music in Falls Church, Va., CD Cellars in Falls Church and Arlington Va. and A1 Clarendon Valet, in Arlington, Virginia.
Back tracking a bit, some of the pressure on James was also because of Mike’s music anthology that he was finishing up and wanted to publish before the end of the year. He wanted to include both his and James’ new CDs because this book was scheduled to be included in the Library of Congress’ growing “Mike Johnson collection.” “I Just Wanted To Be A Songwriter, a Mike Johnson Music Anthology” is 390-page visual presentation of nearly everything from 1980 to December 2012 [except the internet] that has ever been printed, published, produced, and distributed about, and by, Mike Johnson and his music. Loaded with hundreds of images and details of his 45rpms, cassettes, CDs, music books and other items, they pave the way to 274 pages of articles, contributions, and music reviews.
In December 2012 James informed Mike that he’d received a letter of acceptance from Belmont University on Nashville’s Music Row where he wanted to fulfill his goal of becoming “the best all-around musician possible.” He would receive several acceptance letters from other colleges but was keeping his options open until post graduation in June 2013. There’s no doubt in our minds that with or without college James will still be one of the best all-around musicians possible, and a very notable and sought after one to boot!
Mike’s music anthology was published in December 2012 and on 7 January 2013 he delivered the first copy to the Library of Congress Performing Arts Reading Room. It does include James’ and Mike’s new CDs on page 20 and a PDF version on disc is also available.
With the main hoopla over Mike thought he could sneak a little break and then he realized that he had delayed James recording contract because for awhile it looked as though he wouldn’t complete the project. The songs had to be completed and released within a certain time frame and Mike didn’t see the rationale in signing a contract that might not get fulfilled. Even though James was officially part of the label with a CD release, Mike didn’t let him sign his official recording contract until 13 January 2013, with Bernard, his very proud father, co-signing. On 4 February 2013 the trio met for lunch and Mike had James autograph his official portraits for some radio DJs, including one for Mike and his dad. Mike then presented him with his official Roughshod Records Recording Artist Certificate and everyone went home happy.
Shortly afterwards, Mike mailed out the first batch of James’ new CDs to Lawrence Record Shop in Nashville, then to radio DJs domestically and abroad, and a couple of magazines. Mike was also relieved to find a lot more DJs willing to accept MP3 uploads, particularly overseas, since postage had doubled and almost tripled, depending on the country. Promotion is an ongoing process and we’re constantly working on acquiring more consignment outlets and always seeking new radio stations to add to the long list we’ve compiled over the years. Some are gone, but new ones spring up and take their places and we’re grateful to each and every one of them.
On 13 February 2013 both of James’ songs got their first radio airplay from DJ Cowboy Werner on Gerry’s Radio Sound of Heaven Show in Germany. Within two days of his CD promotional videos being posted on Mike’s Youtube Channel, they received 31 and 41 hits, more than Mike’s had on his own videos in quite some time in such a short period.
Other the course of several months other stations aired James’ CD, Julie & Dave Matheson, Australia; Trudy Burke, Australia; Kurt Gabriel, Austria; Noel Parry, Australia; Doc Schultz, Germany; Nicole Trudel, Canada; Bob Atkins, Australia; Pete Smith, England; Donald Burdick Jr., Tennessee, and Patty Patrick in Austria, to mention a select few. DJs Burke, Gabriel, and Parry are among a number of DJs that have been playing Mike’s songs since the 1990s. The very first station was Nashville’s Record Row Review by DJ Keith Bradford in 1981.
Around April 2013, very impressed with James instrumental skills and his unique ability to interpret and get into the soul of a song, Mike made the talented multi-instrumentalist the label’s official studio engineer in charge of arranging, recording, and mixing. On 17 May 2013 we received a letter from the Rural Roots Music Commission, sponsored by the 35-year old National Traditional Country Music Association in Anita Iowa, nominating James’ CD “Back Home Again” for their “New Artist Country Music CD of the Year” for 2013. You think that didn’t send the young’un into orbit! And once again when he was told that both his and Mike’s new CDs were also a part of the Library of Congress growing “Mike Johnson Collection.”
Mike worked up a short set list of songs for the young’un to learn, James added some of his favorites, and on 19 May 2013 James made his first appearance as a label artist and hawked some of his CDs at the Old Firestation #3 open mic in Fairfax, Virginia. Though he delivered a very brave performance and was enthusiastically received, Mike was concerned about him being overwhelmed by the instrumental volume of the backup musicians. It was however, good enough for Cactus Moon Video to use the video footage to produce James’ first DVD!
James graduated from Lake Braddock High School in June 2013 and now it was time to develop his vocal presence. Remember now, James was already a very busy musician as a percussionist and drummer in his high school's Orchestra and Marching Band with a long impressive list of music awards, as well as being a Jazz and Classical music composer and an active member of the Right Condition Rock Band! They practiced every Saturday, testing songs, working on vocal techniques, swapping ideas, and performed every Monday night at Kate’s Irish Pub in Springfield, Virginia. This venue was more suitable and James quickly found himself and took charge of his sets and began delivering smooth and consistent performances. They also worked on their new 12-song albums after selecting some exciting songs from Pata del Lobo Music’s catalog. James finished creating and mixing most of the tracks, some of which includes his talented fiddling friend, Michael Romans. Incidentally, the two songs James originally picked for his Single, “Me and My Sad Self” and “Or You Can Tell Her That You’re Sorry” will be on his new album! Like I said, the young’un is resolute and he sorted those songs out to everyone’s mutual satisfaction! The rest of tracks will be completed during his semester breaks and the vocals will be added sometime over the winter or early 2014. Hang onto your hats, ‘cause the music alone is a toe-tappin’ knee-slappin’ treat!
The highlight of the summer was on Sunday, 11 August 2013 when James and Mike did a guest performance on Brenda Weitzel & Bert Huser’s gig [mike’s long-time music friends] at the Electric Palm in Woodbridge, Virginia overlooking the Occoquan River. From this sprang a second DVD featuring James and Mike, and the next night on Monday 12 August 2013, James’ star shinned brightly as he did a wonderful solo performance at Kate’s Irish Pub before backing Mike’s set. This was their last performance together before James headed off to his Freshman Year at James Madison University where he’s taking music industry courses and honing his Percussion and other instrumental skills.
He and Mike met on the Sunday before his 20 August 2013 departure and Mike gave him some product and promotional material to take with him, and his first official James Adelsberger poster! He contacted Mike the end of his first week to let us know that he was settling in and having a good time performing with one of the school’s jazz combos and has already been asked to possibly play lead guitar with his roommate’s band at an upcoming country music concert! He kept in contact and we couldn’t wait to see how much he’d grown come his first semester break!
The year 2014 began in a whirlwind with Mike and James formulating plans for their new releases. First and foremost they mutually agreed that it was important to adhere the label’s tradition of producing traditional country sounds. For Mike it was equally important to present James as a real traditional country artist, and not one of those lets-pretend-we’re country wannabes that have been saturating the business with their pop-rock-rap renditions for so long.
A good traditional country song isn’t just about the singer. Mike knew that the instruments played a role that was equally as important as the singer. It was these combined forces complimenting each other that gave life to a good song. Keeping that in mind he listened to James’ CD Single at least six times a day, particularly paying attention to how James drew out the heart and soul of “Back Home Again.”
As Mike once stated, “Anyone who calls this song anything but ‘country’ hasn’t got a damn clue!”
James had already laid the tracks to almost half of his album songs in 2013. Mike began a careful search of his publishing catalog for the remaining songs; ones that would allow James to exploit and express his keen musical insight to the fullest; songs that would reflect a modest variety of traditional styles. This was a deliberate attempt to keep everything from sounding the same yet stay within the album’s theme of “old time country songs.” Beginners often fall into this rut. They find a song style that works and then consciously seek out similar songs. Mike admittedly did this early on, but thanks to the blunt honesty on one of his good friend’s and hunting buddy who told him, “I like your songs but they all sound the same,” he quickly grew out of it.
Certain that James could handle the tasks he turned his young co-producer loose and pretty much gave him a free rein on the music tracks, with two conditions; keep it country, and go easy on the drums.
Mike has a very strong aversion to drums in his music. He feels they’re over-used, particularly in country music. The loud “bang, bang, bang” drives him up a wall because it drowns out the rest of the instruments and often makes the singer shout to be heard. Drums were also scorned by a lot of early country artists and at one time even the Grand Ole Opry refused to allow them onstage, with a select few exceptions.
Bob Dean was a Nashville session musician who played drums on Mike’s first recording session in 1981. Although he knew how to approach each song and did a great job on each, thereafter during his Nashville recording years, Mike would not allow drums, with one exception. Jim Stanton of Rich-R-Tone Records [Mike’s mentor] persuaded him to let his grandson Dana Patton play on one of his songs; “Here’s to Jim and Tammy [Bakker] “Bang, bang, bang!” need I say more.
Although he is very accomplished on a number of instruments, as his recordings show, James’ instruments of choice are the percussion and drums. Not only is he session musician material, music is in his DNA.
In the interim he had James rehearsing specific songs that covered James vocal range, along with a few that were just a little outside of his comfort zone. A major drawback was that James was attending JUM College about 100 miles from home. Getting home on weekends wasn’t a guaranteed thing and holidays were painfully divided between family, local friends, and band shows. But they managed and things began to take shape. Mike had selected the rest of the songs and began preparing lyric sheets and demos to be tracked.
On 4 February 2014, RCD45-SMP5 Roughshod Records CD Sampler No.5 was released. It featured six songs that James had already laid the tracks for in 2013. “Liquid Hell” “Or You Can Tell Her That You’re Sorry” and “Anybody Here Love a Nut?” featuring James, and “Old Lovesick Fool” “The Day Hank Williams Died” and “Corner of the Bar” featuring Mike. Hundreds of these would be distributed as freebies locally and on Mike’s road trips.
This was followed up on 10 February 2014 with RCD46-PRE10022014, a Pre-Release Song Previews CD featuring James and Mike performing the full length versions of the RCD45 Sampler songs. These went to DJs, magazines, select music venues, fans, friends, and prior customers, with encouragement to provide feedback.
With school out, their summer became quite busy with one and sometimes two vocal sessions a week. The sessions were also videoed and James was given a copy of each of them to study and help him improve. During the sessions he also had James get into the character of each song by role playing. At times this got downright silly as they adlibbed and mercilessly butchered songs every which way but loose. But the end result was eventually accomplished. James’ inhibitions dissipated and he began ‘owning’ his songs.
On the serious side, however, one song both were determined to nail was “Me and My Sad Self” a song that James had picked in 2012 for his Single. It proved a bit too much for the fledgling singer at the time so they decided to shelve it. A lot of time would be spent working on this one because Mike saw it as a key to building James’ vocal confidence and helping him draw out the feelings and emotions needed for this and the other songs. Because of this Mike chose to concentrate on finishing James’ album first, because he knew that it wouldn’t take half as much time to finish his own. Those silly sessions of role playing as a bumbling, word slurring, drunkard, paid off and James delivered his grandparents favorite song.
James eventually managed to synchronize work, home and his rock band schedules with his label duties, while Mike assigned UPC barcodes, ISRC numbers, Neilsen/SoundScan registrations, and the CD cover and liner layouts and graphics. Nor did he let up on listening to all of James vocals over and over to make sure the vocals and music complimented each other. But the best part of all was James’ announcing that he would be attending a local college, GMU, instead of returning to JMU in the Fall.
On 23 July 2014 James’ Pre-Release album, RCD47A-23072014PR “Old Time Country Songs” was released. It contained 12 songs that he and Mike had mutually accepted and approved for his official release. It sounded real good, and again it was distributed to a select few. Mike had finally selected the rest of the songs for his album and James got busy on tracks. While that was occurring Mike released his Pre-Release album RCD48-17082014PR “Doggone It I’ve Written A Sad Song Again” on 17 August 2014, containing 8 songs that James had tracked in 2013. This included only one yodeling song, “Let Me Die In A Honky Tonk” which would not make the official production because Mike felt that his yodeling voice was too scratchy. Two other songs would also be shelved for a future production, “Cockco Doodle Doo” and “Me and My Friend Jack.” The latter song is actually the original version of James’ cut “Me and My Sad Self” and Mike didn’t want any unfair comparisons to rain unfavorably on James’ parade. Both CDs were enthusiastically received both physically and via digital uploads. A number of video clips of the boys rehearsing their songs and having a little fun were posted on Mike’s Youtube channel.
Around September 2014 James was nearly done with the rest of Mike’s tracks. Unfortunately their hot shot fiddler Micheal Romans had gone back to college and Mike didn’t get him on all of his remaining tracks. James mentioned he had a friend who might be able to fill-in, though she was nowhere as good as Mike, who incidentally is a Violinist. Reluctantly Mike allowed James to give her a try. Long story short, she left James hanging three times, before he told Mike. She had agreed to do the fill-ins in exchange for James helping her father with a back yard construction project. In the process James hurt his back.
“Tell her she’s done!” was Mike’s response. “You should have dropped her. It was obvious by her excuses that she never intended on keeping her word,” and he told James to do the fill-ins himself. Mike had wanted to replace three songs from his pre-release CD with some fiddle friendly songs; “Sittin’ In a Truck Stop Down in Georgia” and a couple of drinking songs, “Do You Wanna Get Drunk and Fool Around” and “Chug-A-Lug Another One.” As usual, James worked his magic on the fill-ins and the fiddle wasn’t really missed. Very pleased Mike gave James free rein on “Pain! Pain! Pain!” his country blues songs. Anyone who has worked with, or attempted to work with Mike knows that he doesn’t tolerate pretentious people! He’ll drop you in a heartbeat!
Mike was also having a minor problem finding some of his spots on a couple of songs and asked James to review and correct them. It turned out that both had erred regarding the use of the demos and lyric sheets. Sometimes Mike didn’t deliver the updated lyric sheet or right demo and sometimes James wasn’t always using the demo to track the song. But this also led to their first co-write.
When asked about the glitch on a particular song, James said he listened to the demo once to get the feel then just used the lyric sheet. So Mike decided to throw in another ‘learning lesson.’ He sent James a lyric sheet with chord symbols and asked him to track it. Only he forgot that James had a copy of Mike’s entire demo catalog and the clever young musician looked up the demo and did a great job tracking the song accordingly. Though he still wasn’t sure what Mike was up to. Mike put him on hold and searched his catalog again and found “Could Be the Whiskey Talkin’” a recently written one [inspired by a comment James make about a college party] that he was sure that James didn’t have a demo of. Just to be sure, he checked his out-going emails to James and sent him the lyric sheet with chord symbols. [Mike has nearly 100 email folders for different contacts in which he saves important incoming and outgoing emails]
It took James about a week to come up with tracks for ‘Whiskey Talkin’ for which he also provided rough vocals. He noted that he had a little difficulty coming up with exact music because he didn’t have an audio demo of the song. He had made his best guess based on the chord symbols and what he knew about Mike’s style. [almost as well as Mike] Mike then pointed out why it was so important to follow the demo. First and foremost, since he didn’t write the song he had to guess at the music, even though he only had chord symbols and no music notations. He then informed him that a lot of studios make part of their income tracking songs for others. If there was a disparity between the demo and the lyric sheet it was common practice for the studio to contact the writer and set things right before proceeding.
Mike also told James that he liked his version better, that he should consider it their first co-write, that it would be added to his album, and registered with the Copyright Office listing both of them as the song’s owners. A very enthusiastic James corrected the other tracks!
Most of October 2014 was spent doing quality control. They evaluated both albums as a whole and each song individually. They picked out the weak spots and even rehearsed each others’ songs, several of which on both CDs were re-recorded. Finally convinced that both were ready for production, they set the release date for November 2014. They then worked on their track order and James cleaned each track. Mike worked on the graphics for the CD covers, liners, labels, and then the arduous task of assigning UPC Barcodes, ISRC numbers, and registering them with Neilsen/SoundScan. Mike also continued to listen to each album at various hours of the day under various conditions right up until pressing time, just to be sure. His view is that people sometimes listen but don’t hear, and sometimes hear but don’t listen. He told James that he reviewed songs by first sitting alone with his eyes closed and all distractions turned off. This allowed him to not only hear, but also feel the song. But sometimes you can over-listen and miss things. Next he would listen while doing various chores. If the song distracted him from what he was doing, nine times out of ten, something was wrong.
James picked his album photo from a group that Mike had encouraged him to take. One of those photos also ended up on the cover of his first sheet music, “Anybody Here Love A Nut?” Mike’s cover photo was taken during their August 2013 guest appearance at the Electric Palm Restaurant in Occoquan, Virginia. James’ best friend Brian Donovan used Mike’s camera to shoot the entire event and Mike cropped the image.
On 15 November 2014 Roughshod Records released its 49th and 50th CDs. RCD49-15112014-1 “Old Time Country Songs Are They Really Dead and Gone?” [13-songs] featuring James Adelsberger, and RCD50-15112014-2 “Doggone It I’ve Written A Sad Song Again” [12-songs] featuring Mike Johnson. James played all the instruments, created the music tracks, and wrote the scores for his friend Michael Romans who provided the excellent fiddling.
James’ 13-song line-up features “Riversong” an adrenaline pumping, white water excursion written by James and fiddling by Michael Romans. The rest of the songs were written by Mike Johnson, including two co-writes, “Could Be the Whiskey Talkin’” with James, and “Liquid Hell” a hard driving moonshine song with lyrics co-written by Leo Maimone. James and Mike did some toe-tapping upbeat duets on “Anybody Here Love A Nut?” and yodeling “Your Old Lady Strut.” James’ touch on “Sweet Abilene” “Or You Can Tell Her That You’re Sorry” and “Doctor! Doctor!” will have you dancing in your seat. However, Mike considers the ‘meat and taters’ that glue this release together is how James captures that genuine traditional sound on “Are They Really Dead and Gone?” “Me and My Sad Self” “Bad Whiskey Bad Sex and Bad Men” and “Barrooms and Bedrooms.” We’re pretty sure that Hank, Lefty, George Jones and Roger Miller are sittin’ in Hillbilly Heaven’s front row seats grinnin’ like possums.
Mike's 12-song release reflects the types of traditional country he listened to during the 1950s and 1960s. No yodeling on this one, for which Mike is well known. And not all sad songs either like "The Day Hank Williams Died" and "Home For Sunday Supper." There's are sad themes and some light-hearted fun with "Isn't Goofy Something At All?" and "Chug-A-Lug Another One" a duet with him and James, and also a reflection of Roger Miller's influence. As usual, Mike Romans shines with his fiddling. The country blues song "Pain! Pain! Pain!” was right up James’ alley and he nailed it.
Stoked and all fired up over the new releases, James suggested they do a Christmas CD as well. Given the amount of work that would be needed to promote and distribute their new releases, it just wasn’t feasible. But all was not lost and they compromised and settled on a limited edition Christmas Single. Two things happened. One, Mike found two humorous Christmas themed songs that he had wanted to release for years. And two, You and Me Records would have its first release! The label was created in June 1987 for his non-country songs at the same time as Mike created Roughshod Records and You and Me Music Publishing. However, songs from the publishing catalog found their way onto Roughshod Record with a country twist. “Put Out the Fire in the Fireplace” and “Ho! Ho! Ho!” were selected and James got to work immediately and whipped out the tracks in no time. Mutually deciding they had worked very hard on their albums they decided it was time to have some fun and do a duet on both songs! As thus You and Me Records first release, a CD Single called “SideKicks Christmas Special” [YAMR1-S04122014] co-produced by Mike Johnson and James Adelsberger was released on 4 December 2014.
Mike informed his friend Janet McKee at the Recorded Sound Reference Center at the Library of Congress that the new CDs were finally ready and she said “I can’t wait” and they set a date. He then informed James of the date and prepared the package and his cameras and on 18 December 2014 they went over to the Library of Congress Recorded Sound Reference Center to present the newest additions to the Library’s Mike Johnson music collection. James and Janet met for the first time and the historic presentation of the label’s 49th & 50th CDs along with You and Me Records first release was videoed for prosperity. Also delivered were a copy of James’ sheet music folio “Anybody Here Love A Nut?” and two official James Adelsberger portraits. Patricia Baughman, who works in the attached Performing Arts Reading Room, which has Mike’s music books, was busy processing her retirement papers. But she made it in time for the final photo session. A video of the Library’s newest acquisition is also posted on Mike Johnson’s Youtube Channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_kVjiumqXk
Mike’s songs have been airing on radio stations since his first release in 1981. Many DJs and radio stations have come and gone, and along the way Mike made friends with a number of them. As mentioned, James’ got his first radio airplay on Cowboy Werner’s “Radio Sound of Heaven” show in Germany for his CD Single “Back Home Again.” Since then those songs and songs from his new CD have aired on many more stations, including; Alex Pijnen’s Country Programa “Saloon” in the Netherlands; Ashley McMillen’s “Hitkicker Home Grown Hour” 99.7 in Charlottesville, Virginia; Daniel Millar’s “Go Country With Derek” in North Lanarkshire, Scotland; Doc Schulze’s “Country-Time Radio Euroherz” in Hof, Germany; Donald Burdick Jr’s “CMG Radio Variety Show” in Gallatin, Tennessee; Hank Edward’s “Country Radio OMCRN Network” in Oak Hill, West Virginia; Ian Parr’s “Country Music Show” 98.8 Castle FM in Scotland; John Anderson’s “Country Music DK Radio” in Middelfart, Denmark; Joy Kimmell’s “Songs of Joy Go Country With Derek” in Mossistown, Tennessee; Julie & Dave Matheson’s “Country Campfire” Icarna Radio” in Tasmania, Australia; Kurt Gabriel’s “Archangel Country Club” ECMA-Radio in Austria; Nicole Trudel’s “The Country Gold Jukebox” Ontario, Canada; Noel Parry’s “Country Express” in Invercargill, New Zealand; Patrick Molis’ “IDFM Radio Enghien” in Montmorency, France; Patty Patrick’s “Newcomer Platform” Radio Florian am Inn in Austria; Pete Smith’s “Strictly Country Independent Country Cross Roads” in South Yorkshire, England; Trudy Burke’s “Make Mine Country” 88.9 WYN-FM Radio in Victoria, Australia; and Winnie Hansen’s “Win’s Country and Gospel Music” WHPR Radio 101.1FM in Denmark.
Needless to say, the label is very proud of James and the effort that he put into helping Roughshod Records reach its 50th CD mark! What a great way to end 2014!
But lookout 2015! James is turning heads and people who know real country music are acknowledging that this gifted 20-year old as a real country artist.
Bob Everhart writing for Tradition Magazine in Anita, Iowa, stated in part, a "...incredibly 'country' country CD..." and goes on to state that his CD "...is not only above board pure country music, it's a reflection of the really good abilities of James, from vocals to every single instrument used in the session, as well as his incredible production ear which is phenomenal..."
Ed King writing for Entertainment News in Santa Fe, Texas stated in part "...A 13-song remarkable CD album... My overall impression is that this young man should have been doing this 50 years ago when Traditional style music was in style. James would have been rated with such greats as Ernest Tubb, Roger Miller and the long lists of famous artists we have lost..."
Though the country music world of the last two decades has been stuffed with pop-rock-rap, pretentious country music, rest assured that Executive Producer Mike Johnson and Co-Producer James Adelsberger definitely know how to keep the 'Country' in the music!
Can’t get any better than that! So far we’ve got at least two Instrumental albums and a James Adelsberger Songbook lined up. James Adelsberger, country music artist, musician, studio engineer, co-producer, and most definitely, an All-Around Musician!
Joe Arnold, Roughshod Records
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Photograph ©2013 Mike Johnson * All Rights Reserved
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James Adelsberger & Mike Johnson Youtube Playlist at: