It’s always a great thing when a local artist is poised to break big on the music scene and such is the case with singer-songwriter Dominic James, who will perform Monday, April 13, at Slates in Hallowell. To that end, I made a call to Nashville recently to chat with this talented young man to find out more about the show and, most importantly, how he got to where he is now.Q: I saw on your website (www.somebodyshero.net) that you are from central Maine, but there wasn’t really much biographical material to delve into there. Can you fill me in a bit more?

James: Sure, would be glad to. I’ve lived in Maine my entire life. I’m 22 years old and although my parents grew up right near Boston — and I was born down there — when I was like 6- to 9-months old we all moved up to Maine where I grew up. (James grew up in the Waterville area)

Q: How did all this come to be — your music and the Maine-to-Nashville thing?

James: Well, my parents wanted me to take piano lessons when I was 7, so I did. I liked it but I wasn’t really into playing piano, guitar or drums or anything like that. You see, both my parents were like hall-of-fame athletes in high school, so I knew I wanted to do that, as well. So my freshman year of high school I played football. I broke my wrist and my kneecap and that was the last play of football I’ve ever had in my life. As I was recovering from that — sitting on the sidelines with crutches — I heard about a musical that the high school was doing, so I auditioned for and ended up getting a part in the play, which ultimately changed my life completely. I decided to give up football and all the other sports at school and start focusing on learning guitar, playing drums and acting, dancing and pretty much all of the arts-related things. Well, in a sports-dominated school, my peers didn’t take that too well so I pretty much got ostracized and tortured the rest of my high school years. I went into depression there in high school and music was my therapy — music was the only thing that I felt that could kind of help me escape the world.

Q: I can understand where your anti-bullying campaign — the basis for your website — began. What happened after high school?

James: Well, I decided I’d like to study music in college so I received a scholarship to go to the University of Maine in Augusta. I went for one semester and decided that I wanted to be learning about music in the real world and not from a book. So I asked my dad if I could take a semester off to see if I could achieve the things I wanted to achieve on my own. He told me to make a list of all the things I wanted to get down in that semester and if I could complete that lists I wouldn’t have to go back. Well, I started playing out at bar and clubs and restaurants, I started getting a pretty good following and making money. I was also happy and comfortable, and I then decided to audition for that show “The X Factor” back in 2012. I was chosen to represent the state of Maine nationally down in Rhode Island, so I got to be on Fox 23 and all the radio stations around. That was my first taste of where this life could go if I could get into music. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it onto the nationally televised round — I got voted off — but it kind of gave me the extra boost to want to do this career forever. So I decided to keep writing and keep playing out and kept getting better.

Q: Then what happened?

James: Well, I moved to L.A., then back to Maine, then back to L.A. and then back to Maine, and finally I moved down here to Nashville.

Q: Having seen your two YouTube videos — for “Love Struck” and “Last First Kiss” — I’d say you’re on the right track, for sure.

James: Thank you. And it’s funny because people know me for those two songs and they seem like so long ago for me because I’ve progressed so much just being in Nashville for the past nine months. I co-directed both videos as well as co-producing both singles and I had written both of those songs, too.

Q: Referring back to the “Last First Kiss” video, I’ve just got to ask: Where was it filmed? The setting looks so familiar.

James: I had been playing a show at the Waterville Opera House and I really wanted to film my very first video (near the area I grew up in),so I asked them if I could do it in there and the folks at the Opera House said I could.,

Q: I thought it looked familiar — very cool.

James: And the other video for “Love Struck” I filmed downstairs at the Silver Street Tavern — they’re the first place that gave me my first start in music. I try to incorporate places that mean something to me in videos or write lyrics about people that are real in my life and real stories, it’s something I take pride in.

Q: And well you should. Let’s move on to your upcoming show at Slates — have you ever played there before?

James: I’ve never played there but I have played Hallowell when I first started out years ago.

Q: What can folks expect from your performance there?

James: I’m going to be doing like a live, intimate show where they’re going to hear a lot of the new music that I’ve been working on down here for the past year. I’ll share stories of Nashville with them — the people I’ve met on the way and how I’ve progressed — it’ll be just me and my guitar taking them on the journey to see where I’ve been and where I’m going. I’m looking forward to that show in particular when I get back to Maine.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the readers of this article?

James: Well, there’s the anti-bullying tour and what we’re doing with the kids at the high schools and the middle schools — the thousands of kids that we’ve spoken to — that’s something I really take pride in and I went through being bullied and my depression and overcoming that. That’s something that I definitely would love to include in there. The other thing is that I want to represent Maine and New England on a big scale, and for anybody who would like to come and share an evening with me — to hear my story and my music — well, I’d really like to meet them at Slates.

Lucky Clark has spent more than 45 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.


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