Wine Country

Award-Winning Recording Artist Boney James Returns to Thornton Winery

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The music of Saxophonist, Songwriter and Producer Boney James has been identified as everything from contemporary to smooth jazz to instrumental pop, so it’s a good thing he’s open-minded.

“I really don’t associate myself with any particular genre,” James said during a recent phone interview. “I feel like I’m just making my own music and I let other people decide if it fits a genre or not. I’m more into genre blurring and breaking down barriers between different genres. I like more eclectic mixes of music.”

In a career spanning two decades, Jones has been regaled by fans and critics for his uniquely indefinable musical style. He has been nominated for numerous awards including the NAACP Image Award for Best Jazz Album, a four-time Grammy nominee for both Pop Instrumental Album and Traditional R&B and a Soul Train Award-Winner for Best Jazz Album.

Crossover artist, James, has released fourteen studio albums, selling over three million copies. The newest CD, “The Beat,” reflects James’ affinity for music melding.

“The CD is kind of a Latin and R&B mash-up and I think it sounds really good and I’m enjoying listening to it and playing it myself,” James said. “Your records are like your children so it’s impossible to pick a favorite. I’ll be really enjoying the music from my newest CD and then I’ll hear one of my old songs on the radio and think ‘that sounds pretty good.’”

With legions of devoted fans, James has heard plenty of stories about how his music has affected those who love his work and how they have incorporated it into their own lives.

“The most common thing I hear is that we made our baby with your music playing,” he said. “But I’ve also heard people say that when they had family members who were ill or even their own problems in life, my music helped them get through it. That’s a real honor and I really love hearing those kinds of things.”

A self-described introvert, James comes alive on stage when performing the music that is his passion as well as his vocation.

“I’m sort of an introspective person who loves creating music but performing is just another side of me,” he said. “I’m sort of a quiet, shy person in most of my interactions with the world but, when I’m on stage, there is this part of me who is very communicative and engaging and gregarious and thank god for that because, otherwise, nobody would come see me play.”

When he returns to the Champagne Jazz Series at Thornton Winery on Saturday, September 13th, James hopes that the positive energy he feels while playing live will shine through in his performance.

“I still love performing, it’s one of my favorite things to do, and I think that’s a big part of the reason people keep coming to the shows,” he said. “I think [the audience] gets infected with that same spirit of joy from me and the guys in my band. Most of us have been doing it for 20+ years and we just love it and it’s a great thing to be able to keep doing.”

Although some of his music can be described as mellow and soothing, those attending James’ concert in Temecula shouldn’t expect to just sit back and relax.

“It’s a high energy show and we try to involve the audience as much as we can,” James said. “I think a lot of people say that my shows have a lot of communication and interaction and that’s one of the things that I love about it too, that communal experience, and really making the crowd participate. We have a lot of fun and I hope that they have that much fun, too.”

James and his band mates are thrilled to be returning to the Temecula Valley; a place they remember as warm and inviting.

“We’ve been coming to Temecula for many years and I think that we have a very loyal following, since we’ve sold out for 10+ years, I think,” he said. “Thornton Winery is a beautiful place to hear music, it’s one of my favorite venues, and there are such nice people there. I really look forward to it every year.”

Regardless of where in the world his tour schedule may take him, James feels blessed to be exactly where he is.

“I’m sort of the man who has everything and I feel that way most of the time,” James said. “I get to do what I love for a living and I’ve had a reasonable amount of success doing it and, for that, I’m extremely grateful.”

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Holly Herndon

Holly Herndon

Holly has been covering arts & entertainment in the Temecula Valley for as long as she has been a part of the community. She loves San Diego sports almost as much as she loves her family.

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