James Israel is a singer-songwriter who plays guitar, harmonica and mandolin, and has helmed several electric and acoustic bands through the years, and has lived and played in and around Sacramento since 1997. James performs solo and in acoustic duos or trios as well.
His is a unique style he calls "alterna-psycho-funky-folk-pop-rock," performing original material in the vein of Tom Petty, Dire Straits, Train, Counting Crows, The Jayhawks, Moby Grape, Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead among others.
James has recorded several CDs with different bands through the years, which can be found on the James Israel Band page ("Music" tab). Single songs and CDs are available for purchase on the "Music Store" page.
The full five-piece band configuration as of 2017 consists of:
James Israel, rhythm guitar, harmonica, mandolin, vocals, songwriter.
Susan Kasper, lead guitar, backup vocals.
Carrie McNabb, keyboards, backup vocals.
Laura Sterner, bass, backup vocals.
Rick Sterner, drums.
“American roots, rock & roll, blues, Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd come to mind when thinking of James Israel’s music. Let’s party!”
– Fox & Goose staff, a popular Sacramento music venue
"Wake Up" is an incredible social commentary song. In fact, it's one of the best message songs to ever come from Sacramento. Its powerful lyrics do more than massage the intellect. The song has a mind-opening quality that puts it in a similar league to the Bob Dylan songs of the sixties that woke up a young generation about corruption and unfair policies. The strength of "Wake Up" makes it a song that should be heard by everyone on the planet the same way "Blowin' In The Wind" is a song everyone should hear. Some songs have healing properties and an artistic innovation that can transform into a call to action. That's what this amazing song does.
-- A video for "Wake Up" can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/auBjtcQnPqs
– SacTV.com "Video of the Day" review by Alex Cosper on June 23, 2012. Alex's "drive" video with the song is at https://youtu.be/auBjtcQnPqs
“Such perfect music for summer, a breezy and free-groovin' release from The James Israel Band. If you were to grab Santana and the likes of Tom Waits, then toss in a little Dire Straits; blend them up and pour out a delicious music shake, you would have JIB – a release to satisfy the most insatiable aural appetite. Heaven to the ears, music for the soul, this talent has no boundaries.”
– KaZaZZ! Online Review by Australia music journalist Melanie Vilnius
James has written songs and played solo and with various other musicians since 1975.
He moved to Sacramento in 1992 and has played many venues in town and around northern California since.
Mr. Israel formed his first Sacramento band, called "Inside Out," in 1997 and recorded a CD with them in 1998, called "Putting It Out There." The band played around town and in festivals for a couple years before splitting up.
In 2001, James formed another group, the "Jammin' James Garage Band." They recorded a CD titled "Freedom Calling" in 2002. That album received some radio play and the band performed in the Sacramento area and a few festivals out of town.
In 2005 James formed the duo "One2Many," pairing with singer-songwriter Tom Durr on electric guitar. They played coffee houses, festivals and political rallies and also recorded a four song CD, "Co-Dependent Blues."
In 2009, James formed the five-piece "James Israel Band" with a group of established local musicians, including his former drummer from Inside Out, Bryan Louton. The band also featured Carrie McNabb on keyboards, Sue Kasper on lead guitar and Jaco Moe on bass. This band recorded his latest CD release, "Good Enough," and played around town and the Nevada County Fair in August 2009.
In October of 2012, James formed an acoustic trio with Frankie Hansbearry on Mandolin and vocals, and her husband Cris Johnson on acoustic bass. This group was also called the "James Israel Band," gigging over a year.
About mid-2014, James formed a duo with another singer-songwriter, John Gruber, who also plays guitar and harmonica. Within a few months, Cris Johnson came in as bass player, forming a trio. The group simply called itself by the songwriters' names. They played together until March 2015.
From mid-2015 through 2016, James played solo, or with Sue Kasper on lead guitar, sometimes adding Cris Johnson on stand-up bass.
In 2017, a new edition of the James Israel Band came into being, a five-piece, featuring musicians he worked with in the past (Carrie McNabb, Sue Kasper, Cris Johnson), and adding drummer Rick Sterner. Subbing on bass sometimes was Rick's wife Laura. This band featured some very experienced and talented musicians.
- Putting It Out There (1998)
- Freedom Calling (2002)
- Co-Dependent Blues (2005)
- Good Enough (2011)