Roughshod Records

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James Adelsberger


Roughshod Records since August 2012

Multi-Instrumentalist

Studio Engineer

Recording Artist

Co-Writer

Co-Producer

Co-Owner

Owner of J.A. Music

BMI Songwriter Member


"Country Sounds"

Rural Roots Music Commission

2016 "Instrumental CD of the Year"

"Old Time Country Songs Are They Really Dead and Gone?"

Rural Roots Music Commission

2015 "Pure Country CD of the Year" 

Are They Really Dead and Gone?
James Adelsberger (Old Time Country Songs Are They Really Dead and Gone?)
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   James Adelsberger, the eldest of two sons, was born in March 1995 and resides in Northern Virginia. His involvement in music began with his family’s frequent visits to his grandparents’ house in rural New Jersey. He says he grew up in a non-musical family so the only exposure he had to musical instruments before grade school was the piano at his grandparents’ house. Enthralled and eager he took a great interest in it and played it every chance he got.

I Don't Know Where They've Gone
James Adelsberger performing a Mike Johnson song
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   A quick and determined study, he excelled so well in general music class that when he entered grade school, his grandparents drove the piano down to his house to stay. In 2002, in the 2nd Grade, James began taking formal piano lessons from Mr. Arthur Lisi and performed at his first piano recital. Lisi became his music mentor for several years while he continued to develop and explore other music genres and instruments. Rhythms came easily to James, and Lisi, a keen observer of his students, informed James’ parents “you’re not gonna like this... but he needs to be a drummer!”

   So, starting in 5th grade James joined the Silverbrook Elementary School Band playing drums and percussion. During that time he also gave it a brief go with the clarinet and trumpet. However, percussion would become his primary focus and what he would eventually study in college. Resolute and eager to accomplish, he would progressively and effectively teach himself the guitar, bass guitar, mandolin, ukulele, banjo, and vocals.

   James’s tenure in grades 7 to 12 at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, Virginia, became a great resource for honing and “perfecting” his instrumental talents. It was here that he joined his first serious band, The Right Condition, then comprised of some of his school friends, Bert Gibbons, Tracy Feerick, and Sean Daugherty, with whom he performed on numerous occasions at various local northern Virginia nightclubs and venues during 2011 and 2012. In 2011 they produced and released “Love Like Fire” a 3-song CD of self-penned songs; 1.Riot, 2.The Meaning, and 3.Love Like Fire. This Pop/Rock first venture into the commercial music world is available from CD Baby and its affiliates.

   James’ love for performing was greatly encouraged by his Band Directors, Roy Holder, Michael Luley, and Patrick Smith during his high school years, and by his Orchestra teacher, Elizabeth Reed. He participated in the Symphonic Band, Drum-line, Orchestra, and Jazz Ensemble, and they traveled and performed in several different states where his band-mates and he, collectively and alone, accumulated scores of music awards! Some of the most notable ones for James being “Most Prolific Composer” Fairfax Academy in 2012-2013, “Outstanding Jazz Musician” Lake Braddock Secondary in 2012-2013, “Disney Festival, Outstanding Jazz Soloist” in 2013 at Disney World, “All-Virginia Symphonic Band” (percussion) 2011-2013, Second Place Digital Music Composition, Council of the Arts Competition in 2012, and the Chantilly Jazz All-Star Band (drums) in March 2011.

   James says that he is very thankful and grateful to have grown up in such a musically diverse community and had the opportunity to travel and perform in numerous venues with many talented and like-minded musicians. And in spite of his extremely busy schedule he still found time to enjoy his outdoor pleasures, achieve the rank of Eagle Scout in 2010, perform with his Church’s Contemporary Youth Choir for three years (drums, bass, piano, mandolin, and guitar) and as a Percussionist with the Washington Metropolitan Youth Orchestra for two years. He also did volunteer work for youth groups, a Special Needs Religious Education program, worked as a staff member at Fairfax County Therapeutic Recreational Services, and studied AP Music Theory and Music & Computer Technology to mention a select few.

Festive Melody
James Adelsberger (a James Adelsberger Composition)
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   Passionate about music and not one to leave a music stone unturned, between school and non-school performances James taught himself Classical and Jazz composition with the help of his Music Theory teachers, Mary DeMarco and John Graham. He became President of the Tri-M Music Honors Society in 2011-2012, and it was at this juncture that he had his first hint of his future career; Film Composer. A keen observer with a unique ability to musically interpret images, James quickly gained notoriety among his friends and others and his reputation is expanding. Add to the mix his active involvement in music camps and workshops at the George Mason University Honors Jazz Festival in 2012 (drums & guitar), National Jazz Workshop at Shenandoah University in 2011 (drums), George Mason Jazz Camp in 2010 (drums & guitar), and the Institute for the Arts Music Camp in 2009. Even a blind person can see that James is definitely an all-around musician!

   Driven by an insatiable music appetite for more outlets and venues to expand and share his talents, he began going to the Saturday night jams at Linda Caldwell’s Coffee House in Occoquan, Virginia around April of 2012 where he met the yodeling cowboy, Mike Johnson. His musical versatility immediately struck a chord with everyone, and they marveled at how easily he adapted to their different musical styles. Particularly Mike Johnson, singer, songwriter and yodeler, who engaged him in some country picking. Encouraged by this and his overall acceptance, James continued to stop in whenever his busy schedule allowed, and a couple of months later on a whim, Mike asked him if he’d be interested in creating some tracks for a couple of his songs. James agreed and was given two songs, “Livin’ Lost Love on the Jukebox Again” and “The Heartaches Are Callin’” the latter a yodeling song, along with several of Mike’s CDs so that he could get a feel for his style. In Mike’s own words, “That was one of the best whims I’ve had in a long time!

   There are people who love to play music, and there are people who have to play music. It was very obvious to Mike that James was the latter. He was amazed at how vividly James had captured the feelings in the two songs he gave him to track and saw a lot of potential in future collaborations because this energetic young man had the same quality as his session musicians when he was actively recording in Nashville during the 1980s. A firm believer in the truth of that old saying, "you snooze, you lose" he decided this would be a very prudent time to act.

Let's Take It Easy
James Adelsberger rocking a Mike Johnson song
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   While preparing a couple more songs for James to create tracks for, Mike offered to produce him on his own CD, but that they had to be Mike Johnson songs. James wisely responded “How much is it going to cost me?” Weeks earlier he had told Mike that he was going into a local studio to record an album, but apparently the cost factor and maybe other production elements kind of killed that project.

Mike told him that he’d cover all the costs and would even set him up on his own CD Baby page and let him keep all of the sales. That he would only have to lay the tracks and produce the masters for each song. James and his father were also told that if it appeared that the project was distracting him from his home and school priorities that he would suspend it until he had more time. With all parties mutually satisfied after Mike explained what each of them were responsible for, and with the approval of James’ father, Bernard Adelsberger, Mike brought James onboard in August 2012 and set the production and promotion wheels in motion. To test the water's James’ first release would be a CD Single, Mike realizing that James’ voice would need a bit of work because he really hadn’t done much formal singing.

   On 13 August 2012 Roughshod Records released its 41st CD, Mike Johnson’s Single featuring the two songs James had tracked, “Livin’ Lost Love on the Jukebox Again” & “The Heartaches Are Callin’.” [RCD41-S14082012] Shortly thereafter on 28 August 2013 Mike set up a photo session for James and took several hundred photos from which they would choose James’ CD cover, official portrait, and potential flyers and posters. For his own CD project, James picked “Me and My Sad Self” and “Or You Can Tell Her That You’re Sorry” two beer drinking songs from Mike’s Guitar Songs Vol.5 Acoustic Series “Bad Whiskey, Bad Sex, and Bad Men.” [RCD28-0208] They eventually proved to be a little too much and James asked to change songs. Not wanting to add to the pressure cooker and definitely not wanting lose this very talented musician, Mike agreed. From Guitar Songs Vol.4 “You Never Got to Sing My Songs” a Roger Miller tribute, [RCD27-1207-2] James picked “Back Home Again” and “The Holy River.” These were much more within his vocal range, and typical as with any newcomer, James again began delivering every voice under the sun except his own. [Mike did too when he started out] Mike eventually stepped in and began offering him pointers as well as assuring him that singing doesn’t come natural to everyone. That most people really have to work at it!

   Mike also solicited some feedback from some of his talented music friends to help give James a realistic perspective but not discourage him. Janet McBride, the Yodeling Queen, Texas; PJ Price, singer-songwriter, Texas; Peter Annemiek, DePlayer Magazine, the Netherlands; Paul Lawrence, Lawrence Record Shop, Nashville; Rocky Guttmann singer-songwriter, Virginia; Trudy Burke, DJ Make Mine Country Radio, Australia; Sharon Marie Cotton, recording studio owner, California & daughter of Yodeling Carolina Cotton; Dave “Hillbilly Dave” Sichak, music researcher, California; Bob Ellis, singer, Virginia; Bob Everhart, President of National Traditional Country Music Association, Iowa; Rick Franklin, Piedmont Blues Musician, Virginia; Bill Gibson, singer, Maryland; Buzz Goertzen, the Idaho Yodeler, Idaho; John Miner, music researcher, Kentucky; Judy Welden, singer-songwriter, Georgia; Joe Country, the Caribbean Cowboy singer-songwriter, New York; Bill “Two Dogs” Thorne, singer-songwriter, Tennessee; and Betty Preston, Mike Preston’s former manager, New Hampshire.

   Sometimes young’uns can be a little head-strong and cocky [weren’t most of us at that age?] and tend to take the Sensei lightly. [wax on-wax off] Mike’s “outside” dose of music reality helped him bring James back down to earth and made it a lot easier for him to get James’ wonderful natural voice as well as vocal consistency.

    James took the critiques very well and went at it again, only this time with Mike taking away some of his creative license and restricting him to rehearsing with the demo version of each song from scratch to master. After months of demos under some very extenuating circumstances with the two of them juggling numerous schedules and priorities; school, chores, orchestra tours & shows, two bands, and college auditions, presentable vocals were achieved and the production was completed. On 14 November 2012 Roughshod Records released its 42nd CD, James Adelsberger's CD Single "Back Home Again" & "The Holy River" [RCD42-S14112012]. It’s currently available from CD Baby and its affiliates, as well as directly from Roughshod Records, Lawrence Record Shop in Nashville, Foxes Music in Falls Church, Va., CD Cellars in Falls Church and Arlington Va. and A1 Clarendon Valet, in Arlington, Virginia.

The Holy River
James Adelsberger (Back Home Again)
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   Back tracking a bit, some of the pressure on James was also because of Mike’s music anthology that he was finishing up and wanted to publish before the end of the year. He wanted to include both his and James’ new CDs because this book was scheduled to be included in the Library of Congress’ growing “Mike Johnson collection.” “I Just Wanted To Be A Songwriter, a Mike Johnson Music Anthology” is 390-page visual presentation of nearly everything from 1980 to December 2012 [except the internet] that has ever been printed, published, produced, and distributed about, and by, Mike Johnson and his music. Loaded with hundreds of images and details of his 45rpms, cassettes, CDs, music books and other items, they pave the way to 274 pages of articles, contributions, and music reviews.

   In December 2012 James informed Mike that he’d received a letter of acceptance from Belmont University on Nashville’s Music Row where he wanted to fulfill his goal of becoming “the best all-around musician possible.” He would receive several acceptance letters from other colleges but was keeping his options open until post graduation in June 2013. There’s no doubt in our minds that with or without college James will still be one of the best all-around musicians possible, and a very notable and sought after one to boot!

   Mike’s music anthology was published in December 2012 and on 7 January 2013 he delivered the first copy to the Library of Congress Performing Arts Reading Room. It does include James’ and Mike’s new CDs on page 20 and a PDF version on disc is also available.

   With the main hoopla over Mike thought he could sneak a little break and then he realized that he had delayed James recording contract because for awhile it looked as though he wouldn’t complete the project. The songs had to be completed and released within a certain time frame and Mike didn’t see the rationale in signing a contract that might not get fulfilled. Even though James was officially part of the label with a CD release, Mike didn’t let him sign his official recording contract until 13 January 2013, with Bernard, his very proud father, co-signing. On 4 February 2013 the trio met for lunch and Mike had James autograph his official portraits for some radio DJs, including one for Mike and his dad. Mike then presented him with his official Roughshod Records Recording Artist Certificate and everyone went home happy.

   Shortly afterwards, Mike mailed out the first batch of James’ new CDs to Lawrence Record Shop in Nashville, then to radio DJs domestically and abroad, and a couple of magazines. Mike was also relieved to find a lot more DJs willing to accept MP3 uploads, particularly overseas, since postage had doubled and almost tripled, depending on the country. Promotion is an ongoing process and we’re constantly working on acquiring more consignment outlets and always seeking new radio stations to add to the long list we’ve compiled over the years. Some are gone, but new ones spring up and take their places and we’re grateful to each and every one of them.

   On 13 February 2013 both of James’ songs got their first radio airplay from DJ Cowboy Werner on Gerry’s Radio Sound of Heaven Show in Germany. Within two days of his CD promotional videos being posted on Mike’s Youtube Channel, they received 31 and 41 hits, more than Mike’s had on his own videos in quite some time in such a short period.

   Other the course of several months other stations aired James’ CD, Julie & Dave Matheson, Australia; Trudy Burke, Australia; Kurt Gabriel, Austria; Noel Parry, Australia; Doc Schultz, Germany; Nicole Trudel, Canada; Bob Atkins, Australia; Pete Smith, England; Donald Burdick Jr., Tennessee, and Patty Patrick in Austria, to mention a select few. DJs Burke, Gabriel, and Parry are among a number of DJs that have been playing Mike’s songs since the 1990s. The very first station was Nashville’s Record Row Review by DJ Keith Bradford in 1981.

   Around April 2013, very impressed with James' instrumental skills and his unique ability to interpret and get into the soul of a song, Mike made the talented multi-instrumentalist the label’s official studio engineer in charge of arranging, recording, and mixing. On 17 May 2013 we received a letter from the Rural Roots Music Commission, sponsored by the 35-year old National Traditional Country Music Association in Anita Iowa, nominating James’ CD “Back Home Again” for their “New Artist Country Music CD of the Year” for 2013. You think that didn’t send the young’un into orbit! And once again when he was told that both his and Mike’s new CDs were also a part of the Library of Congress growing “Mike Johnson Collection.”

   Mike worked up a short set list of songs for the young’un to learn, James added some of his favorites, and on 19 May 2013 James made his first appearance as a label artist and hawked some of his CDs at the Old Firestation #3 open mic in Fairfax, Virginia. Though he delivered a very brave performance and was enthusiastically received, Mike was concerned about him being overwhelmed by the instrumental volume of the backup musicians. It was however, good enough for Cactus Moon Video to use the video footage to produce James’ first DVD!

   James graduated from Lake Braddock High School in June 2013 and now it was time to develop his vocal presence. Remember now, James was already a very busy musician as a percussionist and drummer in his high school's Orchestra and Marching Band with a long impressive list of music awards, as well as being a Jazz and Classical music composer and an active member of the Right Condition Rock Band! They practiced every Saturday, testing songs, working on vocal techniques, swapping ideas, and performed every Monday night at Kate’s Irish Pub in Springfield, Virginia. This venue was more suitable and James quickly found himself and took charge of his sets and began delivering smooth and consistent performances. They also worked on their new 12-song albums after selecting some exciting songs from Pata del Lobo Music’s catalog. James finished creating and mixing most of the tracks, some of which includes his talented fiddling friend, Michael Romans. Incidentally, the two songs James originally picked for his Single, “Me and My Sad Self” and “Or You Can Tell Her That You’re Sorry” will be on his new album! Like I said, the young’un is resolute and he sorted those songs out to everyone’s mutual satisfaction! The rest of tracks will be completed during his semester breaks and the vocals will be added sometime over the winter or early 2014. Hang onto your hats, ‘cause the music alone is a toe-tappin’ knee-slappin’ treat!

   The highlight of the summer was on Sunday, 11 August 2013 when James and Mike did a guest performance on Brenda Weitzel & Bert Huser’s gig [mike’s long-time music friends] at the Electric Palm in Woodbridge, Virginia overlooking the Occoquan River. From this sprang a second DVD featuring James and Mike, and the next night on Monday 12 August 2013, James’ star shinned brightly as he did a wonderful solo performance at Kate’s Irish Pub before backing Mike’s set. This was their last performance together before James headed off to his Freshman Year at James Madison University where he’s taking music industry courses and honing his Percussion and other instrumental skills.

   He and Mike met on the Sunday before his 20 August 2013 departure and Mike gave him some product and promotional material to take with him, and his first official James Adelsberger poster! He contacted Mike the end of his first week to let us know that he’s settling in and having a good time performing with one of the school’s jazz combos and has already been asked to possibly play lead guitar with his roommate’s band at an upcoming country music concert! He keeps us in contact and we can’t wait to see how much he’s grown come his first semester break!

Elecrtic Palm Jam
a James Adelsberger Composition
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   On 15 November 2014, James' 1st. CD album "Old Time Country Songs Are They Really Dead and Gone?" was released. This 13-song release features James' own "Riversong" a rousing instrumental, two duets with Mike Johnson, one of them a yodeling song, and on track 13, "Could Be the Whiskey Talkin'" his first co-write with Mike.

   Mike Johnson's 12-song "Doggone It I've Written a Sad Song Again" released the same day and features two duets with James. And on 4 December 2014, You and Me Records released the "SideKicks Christmas Special" a 2-song CD Single featuring Mike and James duets. All three releases were co-produced by James and delivered to the Recorded Sound Reference Center at the Library of Congress on 18 December 2014 for inclusion in their Mike Johnson Music collection.


Rural Roots Music Commission

"Pure Country CD of the Year"

31 August 2015


James being awarded at the 40th Annual Old Time Country Music Festival in LeMars Iowa on 31 August 2015 by Bob Everhart, president of the National Traditional Country Music Association. Jacob Austin of the Jacob Austin Band provided backup for James set.

   All of our hard work paid off. During the summer of 2015 James received a letter from the Rural Roots Music Commission designated him for an award for "Old Time Country Songs Are They Really Dead and Gone?" Having passed on a previous nomination in 2013, James was determined to get this one. Mike prepared some road tips and locations of area motels, and on 29 August 2015 James set out on his first solo cross-country trip to attend the 40th Annual Old Time Country Music Festival, held in LeMars, Iowa. 

   On 31 August 2015, during his Main Stage performance, Bob Everhart, president of the National Traditional Country Music Association presented an elated James Rural Roots Music Commission's "Pure Country CD of the Year" award with the enthusiastic approval of a very excited crowd. According to Bob, "James is a thunderbolt to traditional country music," and went on to say, "Everywhere he went he had followers and well-wishers. he's absolutely fantastic.   My God Mike, you did a good job with this kid, congratulations from the bottom of my heart..."

   In November 2015, our sister label You and Me Records released its second CD, "Country Sounds" a 12-track Instrumental featuring the musical talents of James and the tracks he laid for some of his and Mike's prior releases. Also included were two compositions written by James that he composed for a couple of Mike's videos.

   On 19 December 2015, the kick-off gig at Joe's Place for the Roughshod Records SideKicks [Mike & James] Show turned out to be a surprise CD party for a totally surprised James for all of his releases to date! Every time Mike had tried to schedule one, someone or something interfered. He was determined not to let it happen again!

   In January 2016, after getting confirmation from Ana, the owner of Joe's Place, they boys came up with a "Winter/Spring plan for a series of eight shows to be held every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month from February to May 2016. Each show would run from 6pm to 8pm and feature a special guest performer and a Mystery Guest on the 7 May 2016 Show.

   Joe's Place, a popular pizza shop in Woodbridge, Virginia had been hosting music for many years when it was a mile down the road on US 1 South. A new state highway construction plan to widen the road from Fort Belvoir south to Fredericksburg, Virginia forced a lot of commercial and residential tenants to relocate. Ana was fortunate enough to get the building vacated in the Gordon Plaza Shopping Center by the Bar "J" Chili Parlor, where she not only has an eatery side, but an adjoining bar. Mike had played at the old US 1 site off and on between trucking trips, and lost track of Joe's when it relocated. When he did join in on Ana, she was anxious to try and get some music going again.

   Following the 7th show, flyers and posters were sent out announcing James Adelsberger as the Mystery Guest for the 7 May 2016. James had had his suspicions about who that might be, and Mike told him that was a given when he started planning the shows. That it was time for him to step out of Mike's shadow and stand on his own as a singer. They spent several days a week practicing his set list, 5 of which had to be traditional country that was selected by Mike. The rest he could choose. And what a wonderful performance he gave, even including a couple of popular old standards, "Pennies From Heaven" and "It's Only a Paper Moon" to a very receptive gathering. He did us proud! Mike was beaming like a possum and we're happy to say that he no longer stands in Mike's shadow.

   Following the SideKicks opening act on each show, the Special Guest Performer is announced and they take a short break to get them set up. On the 7 May 2016 show, a very proud Mike Johnson re-capped James' talents and contributions to the label and not only introduced him as the Special Guest Performer, but had the added pleasure of formally introducing James to a very enthusiastic gathering as the new co-owner of Roughshod Records!

   Yes, were very proud of James. He's secured his position and Mike is content in the knowledge that his music and the future of Roughshod Records is in good hands.

                                                                                                                                                          ...Joe Arnold, manager Roughshod Records