Singing guitarist

James Riley

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(5.0)Read all 12 reviews
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About James

James Riley is an award-winning troubadour, songwriter and studio artist from London via Nashville, bringing quality and joy to every gig.
Singing guitarist
Public liability insurance of £1 million

Performance is how I make my living, but it’s also my vocation! It has always brought me a sense of joy and connection, and I love nothing more than communicating with an audience through song, and sharing that joy with them. I’ve performed literally thousands of gigs over the years, from London to Istanbul, New York to Nashville. I’ve busked on the streets of countless cities and I’ve played to audiences of thousands at festivals & in stadiums. When lockdown happened and my UK tour was cancelled I started livestreaming concerts on my roof in North London, which was covered by the BBC and the Guardian. I’ve performed with some of the greats like Billy Joel and Buddy Guy, I’ve won awards from the Mayor of London, the Coffee Music Project & Arts Council England. I was born in south London, but I’ve lived all over, and I spent a few years in Nashville whilst I was writing my most recent record. I grew up listening to my Californian Mum’s record collection, which introduced me to the likes of Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor Nina Simone & Paul Simon. A lot of the music I write is influenced by these great American songwriters, but a good deal of it owes a lot to British influences like Sting, John Martyn, Richard Thompson and Annie Lennox. Over the years I’ve picked up songs of all stripes, from country to soul, folk to jazz, bluegrass to reggae. If you’ve got a request I’ll probably know it! I play with several different bands at the moment, but I love the opportunity to play a solo show and connect with an audience on an intimate, personal level. “Incredible” Huw Stephens, BBC Radio 1 “A folk genius” Janice Long, BBC Radio Wales “One of my highlights of the year” Verity Sharp, BBC Radio 3 “Absolutely fantastic” Kev Jones, Bear’s Den/Communion “A genuinely gifted and self-assured vocalist and songwriter". - The Upcoming “Exquisite” Ear To The Ground Music “Awesome… like the Allman Brothers meets the Seeger Sessions” Laura Marling “We are in awe of the sheer beauty and lyrical capacity” Wolf In A Suit “It hooked us on first listen…from the harmonies to the guitar work there’s nothing to not like” Folk Radio UK “Riley writes with a deftness often reserved for musicians twice his age” Addict Music “James Riley won’t be one of the best kept secrets on the London folk scene for much longer” For Folk’s Sake

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This act has been working with Encore for over 6 years
10 gigs
Experienced: 10 bookings through Encore
Folk, Bluegrass, Country, Folk rock, Irish rock, Rockabilly, Traditional English folk, Traditional Irish folk, Traditional Scottish folk, Blues, Easy listening, Acoustic, Americana, Pop
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Event types:
New Year's Eve, Wedding, Wedding proposal, Funeral / Memorial service, Church service, Hotel / Restaurant event, Bar / Club / Venue event, Private event, Corporate event, Charity event, Concert, Recording session, Theatre / Show, Cruise, Burns night, Birthday party, Christmas party, Virtual event
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Other skills:
Lyricist, Songwriter, Fluent improviser
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James' Song list

Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash)
Hey Jude (The Beatles)
Wild Mountain Thyme (Joan Baez)
Waterloo Sunset (The Kinks)
Wild Rover (The Dubliners)
I Can See Clearly (Jimmy Cliff)
My Girl (The Temptations)
I’m A Believer (The Monkeys)
California Dreaming (The Mamas & The Papas)
When I Saw Her Standing There (The Beatles)
Let It Be (The Beatles)
Yellow Submarine (The Beatles)
Twist & Shout (The Beatles)
Dock Of The Bay (Otis Redding)
Take Me To The River (Al Green)
Tears Of A Clown (Smokey Robinson)
What A Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
Take Me Home, Country Roads (John Denver)
Teenage Kicks (The Undertones)
Sexual Healing (Marvin Gaye)
Ain’t no Sunshine (Bill Withers)
Whiskey In The Jar (Thin Lizzy)
Express Yourself (Charles Wright)
Jolene (Dolly Parton)
Streets of London (Ralph McTell)
Blowing In The Wind (Bob Dylan)
The Swimming Song (Loudon Wainwright III)
Go Your Own Way (Fleetwood Mac)
Brown Eyed Girl (Van Morrison)
Space Oddity (David Bowie)
May You Never (John Martyn)
Lovely Day (Bill Withers)
Jammin’ (Bob Marley)
Heard It through the Grapevine (Marvin Gaye)
Always A Woman (Billy Joel)
Carolina In My Mind (James Taylor)
Rich Girl (Hall & Oates)
Girls Just Wanna Have fun (Cyndi Lauper)
Crazy Little Thing Called Love (Queen)
Livin' On A Prayer (Bon Jovi)
Summer Of ’69 (Bryan Adams)
Take On Me (Aha)
Saving All My Love For You (Whitney Houston)
Englishman In New York (Sting)
Sweet Dreams (Eurythmics)
Africa (Toto)
Dirty Old Town (The Pogues)
500 Miles (The Proclaimers)
Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard (Paul Simon)
The Boys of Summer (Don Henley)
Fast Car (Tracy Chapman)
Waiting In Vain (Bob Marley)
Purple Rain (Prince)
No More I Love You’s (Annie Lennox)
Common People (Pulp)
Feel Like A Woman (Shania Twain)
My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion)
Song 2 (Blur)
Wonderwall (Oasis)
Don't Look Back In Anger (Oasis)
Breakfast At Tiffany’s (Deep Blue Something)
There She Goes (The La’s)
All The Small Things (Blink 182)
Weather With You (Crowded House)
Basket Case (Green Day)
Say You’ll Be There (Spice Girls)
I Want It That Way (Backstreet Boys)
I'll Be There For You (The Rembrandts)
Friday I’m In Love (The Cure)
Fields Of Gold (Sting)
Save Tonight (Eagle Eye Cherry)
Romeo (Basement Jaxx)
Dancing In The Moonlight (Toploader)
Crazy In Love (Beyonce)
Running Away (Vulfpeck)
Don’t Look Back Into The Sun (The Libertines)
If I Ain’t Got You (Alicia Keys)
Teenage Dirtbag (Wheatus)
Crazy (Gnarls Barkley)
Get Lucky (Daft Punk)
Somebody That I Used To Know (Gotye)
Happy (Pharrell)
Rolling In The Deep (Adele)
Valerie (The Zutons)
Uptown Funk (Bruno Mars)
Yellow (Coldplay)
Umbrella (Rhianna)
Customer questions

What if my timings change after I've booked you?

I always try my best to be flexible to help ensure your event runs as smoothly as possible. If timings change slightly in the run up to the event just let me know

Can you provide an iPod/DJ service before and between your sets?

Absolutely. This is a really popular request and I actually offer this service for free. If you'd like a DJ service via my PA after the final set until the venue closes, I can provide this for an additional £100

How much time do you need to set up?

I usually set up about 1 to 1.5 hours before the performance time. As soon as my PA is set up I can provide a free playlist service to help set the atmosphere and get your guests ready for the show.

Can I pick the songs you play from the set list?

My set lists are crafted from countless performances and learning what works best to ensure guests dance and have an amazing time. However, I'm definitely happy to chat through and make sure we find what works for your event.

Do you bring all the equipment you need to perform?

Yes, absolutely! I bring my own instrument to play acoustically

Can you learn song requests before the event?

If a song isn't included in our song list there may still be a chance I already know it. If there is a special song you'd like us to learn I'm happy to do this for you. There is a fee of £30 for this service to take into account rehearsal times etc.

James' Prices

Note: prices may vary based on travel distance. For an exact quote, click “Check availability”.

Standard Prices
Performance durationPrice
Short performance (up to 15 min)£150
Up to 1 hour£250
Up to 2 hours£350
Up to 3 hours£450
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5 out of 5
10 verified reviews
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James' Reviews

From Encore customers:

Robert K
1 month ago
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5 out of 5

James was a delight. He really made what was a small dinner party on New Years Eve a very special evening. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him.

Emily S
2 months ago
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5 out of 5

James was absolutely wonderful! He saved us last minute after a friend couldn’t sing at a wedding. His performance was perfect and a really crucial part of the ceremony. Thank you so much James. Highly recommended!

Sheila P
5 months ago
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5 out of 5

James was perfect for our small event. With positive comments from everyone, he read the room well and played music accordingly! Wouldn’t hesitate to recommend him.

Rachel M
8 months ago
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5 out of 5

James is a delightful and very talented musician - who read the tone of the room and pivoted the set list to the up beat mood appropriately. I wouldn’t hesitate to engage him again should there be a fitting occasion.

Read all 10 reviews

From other customers:

Ear M
7 years ago


Laura M
9 years ago

“Awesome… like the Allman Brothers meets the Seeger Sessions”