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The Healing Powers of Music

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Prior to the personal tragedy, Armstrong had rooted his playing style in a high-energy, blues-rock approach. Now left unable to turn lightning-quick musical tricks on the frets, James learned slide guitar in the styles of Muddy Waters and Duane Allman and his lead work became more economical. The changes opened new worlds. His most recent CD "Got It Goin' On" captures the new direction aurally and Thursday he brings his soulful, Robert Cray-influenced style to Jumpin'!

Armstrong grew up a big fan of Jimi Hendrix but as a teenager his first road gig was with a country band. He dropped the country identity in favor of a harder edge when he first heard the Allman Brothers and started playing Hollywood clubs in the early '80s. Jobs with Albert Collins and Big Joe Turner followed. Armstrong began writing his own tunes and things were bright when Hightone Records signed him to a deal in the early '90s. He was slowly gaining recognition when the knife attack derailed him personally and professionally. Though he is permanently limited physically, the event had a positive effect on Armstrong as he persevered. He has since recorded "Goin' On," which was nominated for a W.C. Handy Blues Award, and he is on a nearly perpetual tour across the States and in Europe with his searing slide attack and concise electric leads.

"Now I use every note to try to say something … [The attack] changed my life, how I look at life and it changed my music. [Music] healed me." — Ames Arnold



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