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James Velvet (photo by Mike Franzman)

James Velvet (photo by Mike Franzman)

James Velvet has long been the symbol of the New Haven music scene for me.

I was fresh from the south in 1986 and waiting tables at Humphrey’s East during the time that he and Johnny Memphis would come play on the weekends. Having just finished an undergraduate degree in classical music, what they were doing seemed so foreign and untouchable to me. But it looked like SO MUCH FUN! At that time, I purposed in my heart to learn the craft of music as entertainment and a way to connect with people.

Several jobs later, my office ended up being down the hallway from James’ in the Marlin building… so we would talk shop.

Early dates with my husband were spent going to James’ shows that usually included Johnny Memphis.

Sometime later, when I decided it was time to try and break into the Shoreline music scene, I was fortunate enough to get to work with Johnny Memphis (now, how THAT happened is a fun story for another day), and we were a duo for a number of years.

All that to give you the back story on why I was devastated to get the call from John that James had passed away a number of days ago (April 17 after heart surgery).

The New Haven community of musicians and friends has suffered a great loss.

Johnny Memphis & James Velvet

Johnny Memphis & James Velvet (photo by Mike Franzman)

Steve Rodgers at The Spaceland Compound, OH! I mean Outer Space, in Hamden is graciously hosting a memorial concert tomorrow at 2:00 for James, and yours truly has been invited to play her very favorite James Velvet song, “Wide Awake” along with the Core Band of Birdmen. Does it get any better than that? (I wanna know who came up with “Core Band of Birdmen” because that is PERFECT! All James’ band names being some permutation of a bird.)

Word on the street is that if The Beehive Queen doesn’t already have enough backing vocals on her tunes, I might be able to join her. YAY! (Hey Christine! I know you’re out there, sistah!)

Mike Franzman has a great photo tribute to James here.

Here are the lyrics to another of my favorite James Velvet songs:

In My Head (click to listen!)

I’m free as a bird, I do what I please
I’m moving ’round like a warm summer breeze
Everywhere I go, people love to see me show
Pretty girls holler out “Velvet, please don’t go!”

In my head, in my head.
In my head, where I’m at.

I always look good,  and I feel fine too
People ask me “How can we just just like you?”
It just comes natural to a guy like me.
I wake every morning singing sweet harmony

In my head, in my head.
In my head, where I’m at.

I found a true love, it’s a beautiful thing
We even did the deal with the golden ring
It always runs smoothly, never skip a beat
I’m always wonderful, and she’s always sweet.

In my head, in my head.
In my head, where I’m at.

I’m mighty thankful, but I knew all along
That I’d make the charts with this number one song
I couldn’t a done alone, so let’s have a great big hand
Let’s give ’em a warm Hollywood welcome for all the boys in the band

You can visit James’ website here:  jamesvelvet.com to here more songs and read more about James.

Rest in peace, my friend.