His quoted main influences are Anne Briggs, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Michael Hurley, Can, and the Malagasy D'Gary. Yorkston started out as bassist for punk band Miraclehead, who morphed into the band Huckleberry who recorded a number of independently released records. Yorkston’s solo career began when John Peel played a demo of his ‘Moving Up Country, Roaring The Gospel’, proclaiming it had “The Song title of the year, no doubt”. This led to Bad Jazz Records scrambling for James’ details and releasing that track as Yorkston’s debut 7” under the name 'J. Wright Presents' At this time Yorkston had started to play solo gigs in Edinburgh – his debut supporting Bert Jansch in the Café Royal.
Seeking more shows, Yorkston sent a copy of the single to John Martyn, asking John for a support slot on his forth coming Edinburgh date – and John Martyn responded by offering James all 27 dates on the UK & Irish tour. Whilst on this tour James was seen by Laurence Bell of Domino Records (Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand), who was so impressed he had a recording contract sent to James’ lawyer the following week. Subsequently he signed to Domino Records, recording music with a number of friends and associates credited as 'The Athletes' on his records. None of them, however, are actually athletes; indeed, the accordion player - the renowned Scottish musician Reuben Taylor - has been seen smoking a pipe.
James recorded and produced his debut album for Domino – “Moving Up Country” which became Rough Trade Record Shops Album Of The Year for 2002. James also played at the inaugural Greenman Festival, to which he has been asked back every year since. For Yorkston’s 2nd album, he asked Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) onboard as producer, and they made “Just Beyond The River”. This album was extremely well received all round, Pete Paphides of The Times wrote, “Yorkston has reached a state of grace that writers can spend for ever trying to attain: songs that sound not so much written as carefully retrieved from your own subconscious, played with an intuition bordering on telepathy. What more could you ask for?” James’ fan base continued to grow and he was offered tours with Beth Orton (USA), David Gray (UK & Ireland), Tindersticks (Europe), Turin Brakes (USA), Lambchop (Europe), Kathryn Williams (UK) as well as a slot on the prestigious Accelerator tour of Sweden. The follow up, ‘The Year Of The Leopard’ was produced by Rustin Man, who had recently worked with Beth Gibbons (lead singer with the band Portishead) on their ‘Out Of Season’ record.
Whilst promoting this, Yorkston was given the chance to play with Bert Jansch once more, this time in Paris – a nice turn of events. James also invited Martin Carthy to play and share a stage with him last year when selling out London’s Union Chapel. 2007 saw Domino Records release a “Best Of The Rest” collection – unreleased songs from his career so far- ‘Roaring The Gospel’ which led the NME to say “Yorkston has talent as deep as a mine shaft”. Yorkston was invited to work as Musical Director with Oliver Knight and the Waterson Carthy clan for the BBC Electric Proms tribute to Lal Waterson. This was broadcast by the Mike Harding show, as well as by BBC3.
Alongside Waterson Carthy, the acts involved included Alasdair Roberts, Kathryn Williams and Lisa Knapp. James’ involvement with the Fence Collective is also very much alive, he has toured extensively with King Creosote and contributes every year to the Fence Collective’s legendary Homegames – mini-festivals featuring guest performances by names such as The Concretes, Hot Chip & Super Shitbox. James also plays in the Fence Collective bands The 3 Craws, Pictish Trail & UNPOC. His 5th album, When the Haar Rolls in was released through Domino Records on September 1st, 2008. Guests include Nancy Elizabeth Cunliffe, Norma Waterson & Mike Waterson.
A special edition was released featuring an album of remixes and an album of James Yorkston covers by artists such as King Creosote, U.N.P.O.C. and Cathal Coughlan Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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