July 18 2015 – Chroma Gallery (KRCB benefit), Santa Rosa, CA

August 2 2015 – Coahoma to Sonoma Blues Festival, Lagunitas Brewing, Petaluma, CA

August 8 2015 – Blues & Brews Festival, Denver, CO

August 9 2015 – Oskar Blues, Lyons, CO

August 14 2015 – M City, Grand Junction, CO

August 15 2015 – Blues & BBQ Festival, Carbondale, CO

“I was so delighted to bring to you the fine musicianship of Markus James. His orginal approach to blues music Combining American Roots Blues with West African roots music is such a soul filled experience. They created some magical music.”  —Blues Host Freddie Blue, WWOZ, New Orleans, LA

Markus James and Wassonrai

at JOE’s PUB, New York City

“Sunday night, Joe’s Pub in Manhattan played host to an evening of music fusing traditions literally from here to Timbuktu. Blues singer/songwriter/guitarist Markus James and the Wassonrai explored the early roots of blues music by mixing the American style with the traditional sounds of the Wassoulou and Sonrai people of Mali, West Africa–the people from whose music most ethnomusicologists believe the blues derived… The trio – Markus on guitar, Mamadou Sidibe on the kamala ngoni (a brand of African harp) and Makane Kouyate on the calabash – mixed not only cultural styles, but languages as well–Markus would sing verses in English and his Malian counterparts would respond either in Bamanakan or in Sonrai (two indigenous languages spoken in Mali.) Markus’ guitar seemed to hover over the hypnotic rhythms of both calabash and kamala ngoni–which plays strongly percussive, repetitive pentatonic patterns–adding tasteful riffs and subtle harmonics. The group produced a sound that struck a nearly perfect balance between the ancient and modern blues forms so that they were at once distinguishable and complimentary to one another. Markus’ voice was gritty and haunting while Mamadou’s and Makane’s were smooth and subdued, further upholding the elegant equilibrium of the sound…
The highlight of the show was a guest appearance by legendary Wassoulou singer Coumba Sidibe. At first bashful, the Malian diva honored Markus’ invitation to the stage and soon found herself belting vocal lines to an elated audience. Those on hand began to sway, clap along and throw money on stage, as is often customary in West Africa. One felt transported to the banks of the Niger. Meanwhile, Markus’ voice conjured images of the Mississippi. Since one tradition was born from the other, it is of small wonder that the two came together so beautifully.”
–by Eric Herman and Jesse Brenner for www.afropop.org
Booking Inquiries:  booking@www.firenzerecords.com

Selected Previous Shows


Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival, Salmon Arm, BC, Canada

Carbondale Mountain Fair, Carbondale, CO

Concert In The Park Series, Fricso, CO

Vancouver Island Music Festival, Vancouver Island, Canada

Harrison Music and Arts Festival, Harrison, BC, Canada

SLO Brewing Co, San Louis Obispo, CA (David Lindley)

Hempfest, Mateel Center, Redway, CA

Miners Foundry, Nevada City, CA


Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, Mendocino,CA
Freight and Salvage, Berkeley,CA
Experience Music Project, Seattle,WA
Vancouver Folk Festival, Vancouver, Canada
WOW Hall, Eugene,OR
Ashkenaz, Berkeley,CA
Ali Farka Toure Festival, Niafounke, MALI, West Africa


High Sierra Music Festival, Quincy, CA
Harlow’s, Sacramento, CA
Sierra Nevada World Music Festival, Mendocino, CA
Don Quixote’s International Music Hall, Santa Cruz, CA
Sweetwater, Mill Valley, CA
Ashkenaz, Berkeley, CA
Slim’s, San Francisco, CA
Jamal Poi, Tribute Concerts for Ali Farka Toure:
Place De L’independence, Niafounke, Mali
Palais De La Culture, Bamako, Mali
Hotel Salaam, Bamako, Mali


De Young Museum, San Francisco, CA
Sebastopol Community Center, Sebastopol, CA
Sunnyvale Theatre (Film/Concert), Sunnyvale, CA
Bowery Poetry Club (Film/Concert), New York, NY
Lincoln Center Out of Doors Series, New York, NY
Haight Street Fair, San Francisco, California
Berkeley World Music Festival, Berkeley, California
Ashland Armory, Ashland, OR
Price Center Ballroom, UC San Diego, San Diego, California (Festival In The Desert Tour, with Tinariwen)
Rozsa Center, Houghton, Michigan (Festival In The Desert Tour, with Tinariwen)
The Hothouse, Chicago, IL
Access (Film/Concert), Dearborn, Michigan
Hi-Tone Cafe, Memphis, Tennessee
Thirsy Hippo, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Center for Study of Southern Culture, Oxford, Mississippi
Thacker Mountain Radio, Oxford, Mississippi
Taylor Grocery, Oxford, Mississippi
The Festival in the Desert (Essakane, Mali)
Satalla NYC
Globalquerque Albuquerque, NM
Mystic Theatre Petaluma, CA
Harmony Festival Santa Rosa, CA
Washington, D.C. – Fete de la Musique

Markus James

Head for the Hills

Markus James

Snakeskin Violin

Featured on All Things Considered
Rock with a West African Twist: NPR Music

“Profound world blues passage… extremely distinctive pieces, driven by a seductive rhythmic circularity that’s a keystone of Malian traditional tunes and Delta blues.”


“In his most varied and satisfying album to date, James delivers 15 songs that range from brooding minimalism to rollicking fusions of African and American sensibilities…an artist who has done as much as anyone to kick open the doors too long separating American and West African roots music.”


“The mix of sounds, instruments, and influences spanning the program is mind-boggling”


“Africa and Mississippi come together…”


“This is an extremely powerful album”

Ben Manilla, Executive Producer, House of Blues Radio Hour


Elwood Blues

Markus James

Calabash Blues

Afropop Worldwide’s “Highly Recommended” 2006

“A sublime evocation of a landscape stretching from the muddy Delta to sun-baked Sahara sand”


“An unbroken circle of centuries of history”


Markus James


Markus James


“Nightbird is one of the deepest listening experiences that will hit the U.S. market this year.”


“Eerily atmospheric”


“A vital mix of the Mississippi Delta and Mali, a cultural exchange of haunting beauty and mystery.”


“One of the most inspired and arresting world music/blues albums”


“A hypnotic journey through time that goes all the way to the heart of the blues.”


“The word soulful certainly describes this excellent CD, which blues, rock, and Afro-pop enthusiasts should all be aware of.”


“Spare, moody, and beautiful, it builds a bridge between continents, and takes the blues home.”