James, a native of Montana, grew up in a home filled with the sound of guitar and mandolin being played by his father, a traditionalist in the old-time styles. At the age of 9, James’ parents encouraged him to join the Dillon Jr. Fiddlers in Dillon, MT. James loved it, and took to it like a fish to water.
While learning to perform old-time and Texas-style, James started entering a few fiddle contests and it quickly became obvious he was born to play the fiddle. Two and a half years after starting to play, at age 11, his parents took him to Weiser, Idaho to the National Old Time Fiddle Contest to gain some experience. He amazed everyone by winning a National title in his age group, the Jr. Jr. Division. Two years later, he won again in the 13-17 age group.
At age 12 the Schlender family moved back to Bozeman and James began playing classical music in public school. At about that same time he discoverd his passsion for improv playing in the bluegrass and swing style. At age 14, James and his dad formed a 6-piece swing band called the ‘The String Jumpers’, and James honed his chops in the swing and jazz genres throughout his high school years. As a senior in high school, he earned concert master status at the Montana All-State Orchestra.
Upon graduation, James was offered a full music scholarship to attend the University of Miami. While there, he performed with the likes of Chick Correa, Bobby McFerrin, Pharell Williams, Mark O’Connor, Bruce Hornsby, Joshua Bell, Edgar Meyer, Kenny Loggins, Take Six, and others.
James currently plays in a progressive acousitic band called ‘The Wynwoods’, and is preparing to move to Nashville.
“What a great young player to have out there playing our new Zeta violins. Zeta sound and performance unleashed with unlimited talent. Thank you James!”