Biography

James Kerr is a resophonic lap-style slide guitar (Dobro) player, fingerpicking guitarist, and educator based in the NYC/Connecticut area.  His solo concerts feature a unique mixture of original Dobro instrumentals and songs, as well as early acoustic blues and bluegrass.  He often employs the eight-string resophonic guitar in a variety of unique tunings, in addition to the standard six-string Dobro. Although James’ performances are rooted on the foundations of  bluegrass and blues, he incorporates a broad array of influences such as contemporary fingerstyle, newgrass, classical chamber music, and jazz.  James enjoys the musical challenge/folly of attempting to expand genre boundaries and expectations for the lap-style square neck resophonic guitar (Dobro). In addition to his performance endeavors as a Dobro player and guitarist James is a music professor who holds a doctorate in classical guitar performance. 

As a sideman or ensemble member James 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 has performed as a soloist with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra Pops and 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, The Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, and the Battery Park Summer Concert Series in Manhattan. 

James was drawn to and fell in the love with the unique sound of the Dobro in his college years through the work of Jerry Douglas and Mike Auldridge.  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. James has also studied Renaissance lute technique and repertory in lessons and masterclasses with the world's leading players including Nigel North and Jakob Lindberg.  

As a dedicated educator and private instructor James possesses the ability to be equally at home in the worlds of bluegrass Dobro, classical guitar, and vocal jazz.  Dr. Kerr directs the Bluegrass Ensemble at Columbia University and also teaches guitar at Naugatuck Valley Community College, and John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY).