James "Pony" Kerr is a Dobro player, fingerpicking guitarist, vocalist, and educator based in the NYC/Connecticut area. His solo concerts feature a unique mixture of original blues songs and Dobro instrumentals, as well as early acoustic blues and bluegrass. Although James’ performances are solidly rooted on the foundations of Delta blues and bluegrass, he incorporates a broad array of influences and enjoys the musical challenge 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 the unique sound of the Dobro in his college years through the work of Jerry Douglas. 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 slide guitar, 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).