“Admirable musicianship which is unique, inspiring, and tremendously entertaining! With no exception, this described the performance of Scratchdog Stringband. The guy with the big bass voice, James Rossi, has a truly blazing talent on the violin and the mandolin, and his enthusiasm on stage is infectious.” 

-Pam the Wonder Critic, Barnstormers Theatre, Grants Pass, OR

The fiddler

You're looking for some hot violin to spice up your upcoming album or live performance. I think I know a guy. He... okay, I have been playing fiddle for 20 years, all over the world, and in all kinds of styles. My specialty is in string band music, be it Country, Blues, Bluegrass, or Jazz. I also grew up playing Celtic and Rock music, and I've sat in with bands with unnameable genres, so I'm confident I can fill the role you're needing to fill. Now I'd like to tell you, in depth, my approach as a fiddler.

There is infinite nuance to providing live accompaniment and studio session tracking. At least that’s what I’ve found (and am always finding) as a fiddle player. At times I’ve been challenged to learn entire repertoires of bands that hire me for tours; sometimes it’s just a few songs for a weekend of shows or a day in the recording studio; and then there’s a hundred times I’ve been invited on stage without knowing a lick of the material. All of that, on top of my dedicated work in Scratchdog Stringband, is what has made me grow as a fiddle player and musician. 

I say infinite nuance because, as with most aspects of music (and all living things), music happens in the constant energetic push-and-pull between vibrant, dancing, sonic-waving beings. You got to keep those ears open and the whole body receptive; you got to keep the mind relaxed and leaning lightly on all the knowledge you’ve arranged in the back of your head. There’s a band up there on stage and maybe they’re tight, maybe they got a loose groove or a loose screw, and maybe there’re already ten players on stage. Maybe it’s Blues, maybe Folk-Punk or Trad-Jazz, Bluegrass or Newgrass, Country or even Western! You’re invited up there to add whatever it is that the band’s missing. Sometimes it’s just an arpeggiated run between vocal phrases on the chorus; sometimes it’s taking all the damn leads and adding rhythmic comping to boot; or you might just drone double stops the whole time. You never do know what to expect when making music with people, but wherever you come to sit, attend closely to nuance – become its humble servant, and the song just may cross a fresh threshold. 

My attitude toward studio sessions is nearly identical to my attitude toward live work. The only real difference is that in the studio you have more time to listen and to take takes. As long as you tune into the tracks and don’t get caught up in the left-brain, the theory of accompaniment remains the same. Of course, you may know exactly what the producer wants from you and have already spent time rehearsing the material. But often, once again, it’s nuance that must be attended to in almost any recording situation. Music is a surprisingly flexible dancer, so limber up your mind, body and spirit, my friend, before you ask for her hand in this next one. 

For a seasoned improviser, playing music in a group comes down to fully listening and then letting yourself fall into your natural place. And it’s not always about the notes and rests. More often, with a good ensemble, it’s about finding what drives the songs along and what glues it together; it’s about what you can do to illuminate those aspects. At times during a song, I’ve crouched low and eyeballed the next soloist to help bring the band’s volume down; or straightened to full height and started a swinging two-step to raise the energy. You don’t even have to be playing to influence the music – just ask the audience! But to participate in a manner that enhances the overall sound and experience, the main thing is to listen. Fully, with all senses open.


“All band members have mastered their instrument brilliantly, and James Rossi is considered on the best violinists in the Pacific Northwest. In  addition, all the musicians of the group sing perfectly, their voices are variant, and therefore the vibrant and hones vocal harmonies of the group cause constant enthusiasm of the people.” 

-VladNews, Vladivostok, Russia


If you’d like to hire me for studio session work, contact me at jamesrossimusic@gmail.com. My rate is $75/hr. or $300/day. I understand how challenging making a record can be and how much producing your own music can cost, so this rate is also flexible. Please let me know what your budget is and we’ll try to strike a deal that works for everyone!


“James’ technical virtuosity is only eclipsed by his expressiveness. It’s an extremely rare find in a musician when their deep scholarly knowledge of music can come through with pure, unfettered soul. What James brings to the stage (in the myriad of instruments which he plays with great facility, and his one-of-a-kind vocals) is a passion and energy that raises up the musicians around him and takes bandmates and audience alike on a ride to levels unimaginable.” 

-Brian Alley, Never Come Down