Here's an article on Fort Worth blues (and other stuff) musician as it appeared in Buddy Magazine in the Summer of 1997.
Spotlight on Performers
If you try to categorize the music of James Hinkle you'll find yourself in a world of trouble. This Fort Worth native's influences are so wide ranging that an average musician would just give it up and get a day job. Fortunately for us, James is not your average musician. His new self released CD, "Running Too Hard", is currently confusing radio programmers and record stores across the Metroplex.
"I just tell them they have to make a new category for me, Eclec-Tex," grinned Hinkle. "Actually, I think I'd just call it Texas Music. There's some country, some cajun, some tejano, some rock, and some blues all mixed in there. A little bit of all the stuff in me."
James grew up in Cowtown and, in his youth, witnessed the last heyday of the real juke joint Mecca on Jacksboro Highway. It was there that he met Freddie Cisneros who turned him onto blues guitar and the grand vizir of Fort Worth Blues, Robert Ealey.
"Freddie was in the Five Careless Lovers at that time," remembered Hinkle. "He started teaching me how to play blues guitar and taking me to all the little joints around town. This was back when Robert was running The Bluebird (a classic Fort Worth juke joint) and he was in and out of that band a lot."
Around 1981 James went off to college in Austin and ended up with a degree in Art and Education. After teaching for a year he ended up playing guitar full time in a jazz band called Tempest. That later morphed into a band called Housewives Choice and eventually led to a full time position playing guitar behind Marcia Ball.
In 1988 Hinkle moved back to Fort Worth, but continued his travels with Marcia Ball's band. After leaving Marcia's group, he fronted an Austin band, The Hoodoo Cats for awhile before teaming up with Fort Worth's Johnny Mack. That pairing pleased listeners, but didn't provide enough cash flow for either performer. It was finally time for James to step out on his own and the result is the just released "Running Too Hard."
"This project was a culmination of several years of writing for me," said Hinkle. "It took awhile for me to figure out how to lay all these songs out and fit together all these styles of writing. As a song writer I like to explore a lot of different things. That's something you can't really do if you're just doing straight blues, rock, or one of those genres. We recorded a lot more straight blues stuff, but in the end, I decided to go for a broader range of material. I think a lot of that came from just wanting to do something different. I find when I go and perform my way, people like the variety so that's what I tried to do on this record. For me, it's always been more about writing music than about following one particular path of music. I appreciate the guys that can do that, but it's not me. It's a curse and a blessing."
James is joined on one track by his old boss Marcia Ball and on a couple by Austin harp man Ted Roddy.
"The CD was recorded in Fort Worth," said Hinkle. "The mixing, horns and Marcia's piano part were added in Austin. It was mixed on a special hand made board that was at Graceland during the last couple of years of Elvis' life. It was pretty neat to be mixing on a board and think that Elvis was in that board!"
"Running Too Hard" is available at Record Town in Fort Worth, Borders Books and Music, and Barnes and Noble. Be sure to look in the Eclec-Tex section. The James Hinkle Band will be appearing at The Robert Ealey Blues Festival on September 27 at Sundance Square in Fort Worth.