Biography

Early Years

I was very lucky to start drum tuition around the age of 13 with Justin Edley who was a great teacher and had a massive influence on my style and approach to the drum kit. Sadly Justin stopped tuition due to commintments with his band at the time (Slightly Alien) Justin then passed me on to Martin Davies at The Halifax Drum School.  Martin has considerable experience in teaching and undertakes regular session work, and currently gigs with  jazz heavyweights Stevie Williams, The Urban Jazz Guerrillas, Gary Boyle (Isotope) Rod Mason, John Ellis, John Thorne, Steve Oaks, Gavin Barras, Simon Peats, Larry Van Kreidt, Omar Puente, Snake Davis & Helen Watson.

Education

I studied for my Degree at the ACM (Academy of Contemporary Music) here I received class lessons and private tutorials from Mike Sturgis (an experienced musician and teacher who formerly undertook regular session work with the band AHA)

Also whilst at the ACM I took advantage of Masterclasses, and had the privilege to seek advice from such greats as Horacio Hernandez (Carlos Santana, Steve Winwood, McCoy Turner and Michel Camilo) John Blackwell (Prince and Justin Timberlake) Stanton Moore (New Orleans and funk session player and teacher) and technical extraordinaires Thomas Lang and Dave Weckel; arguably amongst the world’s best percussionists.

My Career

I started playing the drums at the age of 10 when I bought my first drum kit from an antique’s fair, it wasn’t the best but it got me hooked!

I started drum lessons shortly after and was playing in a punk band at the age of 13 with regular gigs in the West Yorkshire area by the time I was 15. This gave me some great experience of playing live and getting a response from an audience.

Once I turned 16 I was able enough to start doing session work for my drum teacher and filling in when he couldn’t make gigs due to other commitments. I had the chance to play with The Bachelors, a 60’s chart topping boy band. This was a great opportunity and was my first professional gig.

I also played sessions in the North and the Midlands with functions bands.  This was great fun and well-paid work. I even played on a Canal Boat in Manchester which was a good laugh as it’s not often you get to play country music and see the sights of Manchester at the same time.

When I was 19 I went to study at the ACM in Guildford, doing a degree in contemporary music and drums which was really rewarding and gave me the opportunity to work alongside other musicians my age; recording and gigging around the South East and London.

Whilst studying I used my spare time to practice and gig with my band at the time The Rookeries.

Also whilst at ACM I had the opportunity to take part in a Sony MP3-player advert along with 120 other musicians. This was another great experience and lots of fun hanging out with all the other musicians working on the project. It also gave me a good understanding of what it is like to work on a large scale advertising campaign.

Watch the Sony Walkman Advert here

Here you can also watch the documentary about the advert.

We Play Drums

Since graduating from the ACM I moved home to West Yorkshire where I now run my private tuition business ‘We Play Drums’ in my home studio.

I am pleased that my business is growing year by year. I started off with 1 pupil and have successfully gained a good client base of all ages and abilities.

I also teach regularly in Northowram Primary School and Ryburn Valley High School. At Northowram I run Drum Kit and Rhythm workshops covering basic rudiments and contemporary Rock and Pop Grooves and I also run Samba Percussion workshops where we work on traditional Samba beats and breaks.

At Ryburn I work on a one to one tuition basis helping students develop as drummers and further their musical education.

Recent Musical Ventures

I have worked on a number of projects since returning home to West Yorkshire.

I have being lucky to work with a great local artist Des Horsfall and his band Kuschty Rye. Playing with Des really helped to develop my own interest in roots based folk and country music. At times with Kuschty Rye a full drum kit set up would have being the wrong choice for the song and so I had the opportunity to use my Cajon (a Peruvian hand drum) which creates both bass and snare tones and ties in well with a ‘rootsy’ sound.

I can be seen playing my Cajon and Drum Kit with Des on this video.

I now work with my band Good Moves who recently recorded songs produced by Des at Valve studios. We are starting to gig more often in and around the Leeds area and we hope to see you at a show in your town or village soon.

You can find everything you need to know regarding Good Moves here.

OK so now you are up to date with all that is We Play Drums and James Newsome but as with every musician things are forever changing so be sure to check back soon for regular news and updates.

Best Wishes,

James