Recommended if You Like
Donovan John Prine Leonard Cohen

Genres You Will Love
Folk: Modern Folk Moods: Type: Acoustic World: Folklore World: World Traditions

By Location
United States - California - SF

Art for Recovery 'Learning to Live in the Moment,' Stories of Hope, American Cancer Society Jim's website Jim's electronic press kit Sell your music everywhere

Jim Murdoch

The beauty and power of nature, of the ocean, the northern California coast and many years performing music, dance & circus arts have fostered a deep appreciation for the preciousness of life & inspired a new collection of music..."Yonder Shore."

Originally from Montana and with family ties to West Virginia and Appalachia, Jim first performed in the San Francisco Bay Area with The Pickle Family Circus as an apprentice clown and roustabout, appearing in clown and club juggling routines. Outside the ring, Jim pursued a variety of interests: jazz and classical piano, accordion, movement and dance, including five years studying flamenco dance, castanets and music with Rosa Montoya (niece of flamenco guitarist Carlos Montoya) in San Francisco.

Jim performs at festivals and fairs up and down the west coast from 'Lompoc to Puyallup,' playing his own compositions, as well as traditional songs and presenting his solo clown show, "The Dogs Bark but the Caravan Moves On," (more info at ) :

* Seattle's Bumbershoot Festival of the Arts
* The Los Angeles Shakespeare Festival
* The Great Monterey Squid Festival
* The San Francisco Festival of the Sea

Jim released his first CD, a solo effort in the spring of 2006, "Waltz to the Sea," a collection of original and traditional music, including songs for cedar flute, Appalachian dulcimer, accordion, guitar, piano, vocals, harmonica and castanets. There is a review of the album at the end of this bio.

Jim has just finished recording his second cd, "Yonder Shore," a collection of his new songs, including collaborations with good musical friends, who perform on Hawaiian slack key guitar, Turkish Cumbus, percussion, zils, organ, piano and vocals. Early demos of several of the new tunes, "Lakes of Pontchartrain,' 'Lovely Little Marley,' 'Dusk & Dawn,' 'Yonder Shore,' and a new piano solo in the style of a traditional flamenco song, "La Ruisenor," The Nightingale can be heard on the audio page of his electronic press kit at "Yonder Shore" will be released in April 2010.

Music, Healthcare & teaching
For the past fifteen years Jim has been working as a musician at the University California San Francisco Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center for the award winning expressive arts program, 'Art for Recovery,' using music to develop relationships and create community for people dealing with serious illness.
Jim performs his original songs and compositions as well as traditional music from around the world for patients who are recovering from surgery (including the intensive care unit), receiving chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments and for staff and visitors. In 2008 Jim began a new song writing project. ‘Songs from the Heart, a collaboration with patients and staff to create individual songs, based on their experiences at the medical center. See the sonicbids electronic press kit "Press" & "Photo" sections, 'Not our best day . . . thank you.' There are more healthcare related stories at his web page in the 'stories' section,

Since 1988 Jim has taught piano, harmonica, songwriting and movement in a variety of settings. He has led workshops and classes to provide individual and group support through creative expression. Jim uses his training and experience in movement and dance, creative writing, oral history, music and composition, group discussion, collaboration and sometimes humor to give participants a broader understanding of issues in their lives involving change, loss, bereavement, growth, transformation and healing.

Jim works throughout the San Francisco Bay Area with a variety of populations, presenting programs and facilitating workshops for

* Pediatric Oncology
* Kaiser Hospital San Francisco
* Stanford University Lucille Packard Children's Hospital
* Oakland Children's Hospital

* San Francisco Domestic Violence Women's Shelter

* UCSF Helen Diller Cancer Center - Husband’s ongoing support group for men whose wives are dealing with cancer

* Elderly and Aging
* retirement communities
* board & care homes
* skilled nursing facilities

* Hospice & End of Life

In October of 2005 Jim presented a literary symposium at the University of California Santa Barbara's College of Creative Studies, "A Musical Tour of The Accordion Music of Immigration in America, based on E. Annie Proulx's Novel "Accordion Crimes." Jim continues to present this music appreciation program describing the influence of immigration on traditional European and Celtic music. See the "Photo" section, 'Accordion Crimes.'

Jim has worked with the support of The California Arts Council to involve elderly people with creative projects, using music, dance, movement, oral history, video and visual art. In 2002, the San Francisco Performing Arts Library and Museum transcribed and published Jim's oral history of a Bay Area Vaudevillian, "Thelma Langston, A Life in Vaudeville."

Most recently Jim taught a flamenco based dance class for elderly people at Mendelsohn House retirement community in San Francisco.

A review from Indie-music (from 02-08-08) :

By Jana Pochop

Waltz to the Sea is one of those multi-faceted albums where you can't quite believe the artist pulled off playing all the instruments himself. But Jim Murdoch does exactly that with this varied and interesting batch of traditional and original tunes. Murdoch handles the cedar flute, dulcimer, accordion, piano, harmonica to name a few. Oh, and he arranges it all too.

Murdoch's album starts off with "Tara's Song," a mournful and beautiful tune played on the cedar flute. It blends nicely into the jaunty and stuck-in-your-head melody of "Erika's Reel," on which Murdoch handles both dulcimer and accordion. Already the listener can tell that Murdoch is a man of many instruments, and we're only two tracks in. The Emerald Isle gives way to "Jota," a Spanish folk song complete with castanets. I don't think I have ever typed this sentence before and very well may never type it again, but ... I really enjoyed the castanets on this piece. It's exactly what a folk song from Spain should sound like.

Next Jim throws in some vocals with a great tune about one of my favorite things ... tamales. The traditional Mexican dish wrapped in a corn husk is more than deserving of a song, and Murdoch delivers an almost epic tale about the dish. What I'm curious about is what a "tamale box" is, because it gets played on this record.

One of the standout tracks is "Appalachian Dulcimer," a medley of well known tunes such as "Oh, Susanna," "Froggy Went A Courtin'," and "Camptown Races." The combination of dulcimer and harmonica manage to highlight the melodic aspect of each tune and add an almost mournful tone to it, without making them drag. It's a good approach for this song grouping.

Murdoch is also an excellent pianist, as "Golondrinas" and "Mi Buenos Aires Querido" testify. Murdoch is trained in jazz and classical piano, as well as flamenco dance. And apparently in his off-time, he makes tamales. One well-rounded musician who made a very well-rounded record. Waltz to the Sea is recommended for those who don't mind some variety in their musical palette (or salsa on their tamales, as it were).

* * *

“Waltz to the Sea”
reflects Jim’s wide-ranging musical interests and eclectic sources—from original songs to traditional and contemporary melodies from Argentina, Spain, Scotland, and the Appalachians—and his extensive background as a performer. Traditional Celtic and Appalachian music, Spanish folk song and flamenco, Argentine tangos, and original and contemporary vocals are performed with a variety of instruments that include cedar flute, Appalachian dulcimer, accordion, guitar, and piano.

The CD opens with an original song for cedar flute, and continues with a traditional Celtic tune performed on Appalachian dulcimer. The CD also includes an Appalachian dulcimer medley of traditional tunes and songs by Stephen Foster. A cedar flute rendition of “West Virginia Hills,” the state song, is a tribute to Jim's grandmother, who lived in West Virginia for 94 years until her recent passing. The dulcimer and cedar flute are instruments Jim plays in his work at the University of California San Francisco Mount Zion Cancer Center, where for the past thirteen years he has performed original and traditional music for patients who are recovering from surgery or receiving treatments, and for staff and visitors.

“Saga of The Tamale”—one of four original vocal tracks—adds a delicious twist to the holiday song, as it celebrates the tradition of making and gifting homemade tamales at Christmas time. Other original vocal tracks are “Beach Glass Ballade,” "Autumn Again" and the title track “Waltz To The Sea.” “Follow The Heron,” by Karine Polwart, a young Scottish singer-songwriter honors the return of spring to the Shetland Islands with beautiful imagery, ‘the back of the winter is broken and light lingers long by the door.’

Two beautiful tangos by Carlos Gardel and a traditional flamenco fandango are arranged for solo piano, reflecting Jim’s years of training in classical piano and flamenco dance. A jota from northern Spain is played on accordion with castanet accompaniment. The accordion is an instrument on which Jim has performed for over twenty years, playing a repertoire of tunes from around the world at festivals and parties, and in his many appearances as Jimbo the Musical Clown.

Suggested Tracks

* Saga of The Tamale (track 4)

* Erika’s Reel (track 2)

* Waltz to the Sea (track 7)

* Fandango (track 11)