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Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Winston James

// by Larry Delaney //

(#72 in the Ontario Country Music Pioneers Series)

WINSTON JAMES began playing guitar and fiddle when he was 12 years of age, at barn dances around his hometown of Sherbrooke, Quebec. He later became a member of the house band on the TV series “Jamboree”, hosted by Dick Curless and broadcast out of Sherbrooke.

After relocating to Southern Ontario and making his home base in St. Catharines, James pursued his career with special guest appearances on shows in the Southern Ontario and New York regions, including opening shows for such stars as Buck Owens (in Buffalo, NY); Don Gibson, Faron Young, Kitty Wells and Tammy Wynette (at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-On-The Lake, Ontario); as well as an opening attraction at Ontario venues for Tex Ritter, Charlie Louvin and on several occasions, with Grammy Award-winning “Polka King”, Walter Ostanek.

During the 1970s, Winston also toured extensively in the USA mid-West, fronting a country band with fellow Canucks Larry Dee (Degrechie), Dottie Randall and Terry “Chiefy” Morin. The tour was booked initially for two weeks; but due to its popularity, it turned into a two-year gig.

Winston James was also seen as a special guest on Ontario-based TV shows hosted by Ray Griff, George Hamilton IV, Ron McLeod and Family Brown.

Notwithstanding his widespread exposure in live TV shows, James had a limited recording career, releasing a 1973 vinyl LP on Marathon Records, entitled “The Good Things In Life”. The album yielded two singles – “You Don’t Miss Your Water (Til’ The Well Runs Dry)”, a tune written by the late Dallas Harms; and the follow-up “Pardon Me” / “If I Ever Lost Her”, the latter a tune written by Winston James.

More recently, Winston has recorded three CDs – a “Most Requested-Vol. 1” and “Vol 2”; as well as an “Old Time Fiddle Tunes” collection.

Winston James continues to be active with his music, playing local venues in Southern Ontario. Aside from his music, Winston is also regarded as a “gourmet cook”.


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