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James Kerr: Bio

James possesses the ability to be equally at home in the worlds of classical and improvised music, on both guitar and banjo. He has performed at such New York area venues as Irving Plaza, The Knitting Factory, Gracie Mansion, Trinity Church, The Wetlands, Symphony Space, as well as the Juilliard School and Yale University. James attended the University of Michigan where he studied jazz, and received a master's in music education from Columbia University. He completed a doctorate in classical guitar performance in 2016 at Stony Brook University (SUNY). His primary teachers on classical guitar were Kevin Gallagher and Jerry Willard. In classical guitar recitals James specializes in combining music of the late Renaissance, in particular the lute fantasias of John Dowland and Simone Molinaro, with contemporary late 20th century works.  

James also performs under the stage name Had Was Gone, a unique one-man band project that features original songs accompanied by progressive banjo and dobro playing along with organ-style bass pedals.

In 2006 James performed as a soloist with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra Pops in a program that combined bluegrass band and orchestra, with arrangements by Kenji Bunch. Festival performances have included the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, The Craftsbury Chamber Festival, The Long Island Guitar Festival, and the Battery Park Summer Concert Series in Manhattan.

James has taught undergraduate musicianship at Stony Brook University (SUNY) and is currently on the music faculty at Columbia University, Naugatuck Valley Community College and John Jay College of Criminal Justice(CUNY).