Meet James Justin Burke, a local Folly Beach musician and songwriter. I sat down recently for an interview with the burgeoning star, and he is a confident young man, sure of his craft, but deep down the kid inside him remains giddy with excitement and anticipation. It is this energy that drives his music as he becomes a master craftsman at his trade. All of his songs are heartfelt and will evoke a spirit inside you. He is a transplant from Virginia but calls Folly Beach his home and soaks up Folly energy to use in his art. He fronts Jupiter’s Garden, a local rock band that puts on an awesome show. Recently he went out solo, and James Justin & Co. presents a soulful rock-grass sound with hints of Americana and country. Every time I have his new album playing, someone asks about it, the sign of a truly good record. I highly recommend getting one for yourself, but be careful, it may never come out of your CD player.
Why did you make a solo album?
Every show, someone would talk to me about this great connection they had to one of the songs I wrote, and I thought about how cool it would be to continue these connections on an album. I never really thought twice about it, it felt like I was meant to do it.
Tell me about the new album?
“Southern Son, So Far” is an album of love songs. It has 9 tracks and song selection was a big decision. There are more songs that did not make it because they just didn’t fit the feeling of this album. Every good record tells a story and the songs I chose were about my wife and how she changed my life. It already has been a gigantic success.
What experiences did you have with the album creation process?
I had nothing but extremely good experiences. I was surprised at the love and support I received from so many places. Jim Donnelly from Plowground Productions produced the album and made the process effortless. I went in not knowing anything and came out with something that I never knew would go this far. It is very scary to give away your heart and soul, and Jim eased my mind and was confident that it will rival anything out there. I could not have done it without him. Then my friends and some of my heros offered to be a part of the album. Ben Bridwell was happy to help and his respect was a huge gift. The guys in Dangermuffin were there to support and Howard Dlugash, they all helped me through it.
Are you writing new music and touring now?
Absolutely, in fact I could probably make 5 records. I am very active and a 2nd album may be in the works very soon. My albums are all concepts so I am searching for a sign that makes the 2nd one complete. James Justin & Co. is planning a Charleston Charity tour, which has 8 dates in late June/early July benefiting Carolina Studios. Then we are taking off to Wilmington, NC then Floydfest in VA, and Camp Barefoot in WV, touring Virginia and singing the national anthem at the Richmond Braves game. Then in the fall we have a tour planned from Boston to Miami and over to New Orleans. We plan on being very busy.
How do you feel about the Folly Beach music scene?
The sounds going on here are incredible. People who aren’t paying attention need to know that there are 3 major bands making it out there on the road, all based on Folly. Countless others are equally as good and you can hear one nearly every night. The amount of good bands you hear up and down Center Street encourages each one try harder and get better. It is all a product of where we live and where we come from. Crossing the bridge and arriving on the island relieves all my troubles and creates a huge sigh from deep down within. I can’t imagine my life without Folly.
Buy the album at JamesJustinMusic.com. You can check out James Justin & Co. 6/20 & 7/3 at the Surf Bar, 6/24 on the Folly Pier, 7/1 at Sunset Cay Marina, and 7/2 at Folly Beach Brewing Co.