Music Man | nccomposer

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About the artist

Thomas James is a songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist who got his first break in the music business in the early 1980s when his band, the Kelly James Band, caught the attention of then-MCA Records Regional Promotions Manager Jay McDaniel. McDaniel had been aware that the South's Marshall Tucker Band was searching for a promising act to jump-start its new Creative Arts label and suggested that the Kelly James Band submit a demo tape for consideration. Ultimately, the Kelly James Band’s demo was enthusiastically selected by producers Doug Gray, George McCorkle and Jerry Eubanks of the Marshall Tucker Band from more than 400 submissions because of the band’s fresh and marketable sound. The Kelly James Band was invited to record its debut album at the Marshall Tucker Band’s Spartanburg, SC studios and when it was released a few months later, several of the project’s cuts received airplay in the Southeast.

Doors opened fast for the Kelly James Band, which began performing for large, enthusiastic crowds, opening shows for the Marshall Tucker Band, the Atlanta Rhythm Section, Dr. Hook, Artimus Pyle Band (former drummer for Lynyrd Skynyrd), New Riders of the Purple Sage, among others. James was the main songwriter on the project.

The Kelly James Band’s unique sound was highly regarded by Ken Lanza of CBS Records who, in turn, approached industry legend Paul Atkinson for consideration to sign the band with Columbia Records. At the time, MCA Records and Warner Brothers had also expressed interest in the band. Unfortunately, tumultuous times and personnel changes in the industry never resulted in a deal with a major label, but the Kelly James Band persevered with loyal support from its fans, and continued to build a tremendous following in the Southeast. Sadly, differences in musical direction caused the group to disband a couple of years later.

During the past 35 years, James has played in other bands and has written more than 100 songs in various genres, including pop, rock, country, blues and instrumentals, and many orchestral compositions suitable for movie or TV soundtracks. He is a member of Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI).

In addition to James’s musical endeavors, he is a screenwriter and actor, having written numerous screenplays and appearing in such films as “Mr. Destiny” (Jim Belushi, Linda Hamilton, Michael Caine, Jon Lovitz, Rene Russo) and “Leatherheads” (George Clooney, Renée Zellweger, John Krazinski, Jonathan Pryce).

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Thomas James


Music Man

Words and music by Thomas James and Ted E. Kelly ©1981

Don’t know if it’s right or wrong,
But I’d travel all night long for the chance to sing my songs.
I’m the music man.
And I’d climb the highest hill to let you hear just how I feel
‘Cause what I sing is real, I’m the music man.

Ain’t nothing to keep me from where I gotta be.
I have to play, honey, can’t you see, I’m the music man.
You could swear that I’m a dreamer child; you could swear that I’m running wild.
And I’d say it’s just my style, I’m the music man.

Oh, the music man.

Spend my life just traveling around because I need to see those crowds.
I love to hear my music loud.
The music man.

Oh, the music man.
You could swear that I’m a dreamer child; you could swear that I’m running wild.
And I’d say it’s just my style, I’m the music man.

Oh, the music man.
Oh, the music man.