about the artist  



Blind Lemon Pledge certainly is a national treasure what with his ability as a songwriter, singer and musician. As a multi instrumentalist he has no peers and his song writing is so very engaging as he interprets our lives in song. Covering a wide gamut of styles and genres he comfortably moves across the musical spectrum. Certainly a new artist for us here in Australia but l think that will end with this offering and we will be looking for those earlier recordings. Certainly love what l hear and love just how quirky Blind Lemon Pledge can be.
Peter Merrett / PBS 106.7 / Melbourne, Australia

This is a very interesting fifth release from a very provocative artist. His unique and fascinating mix of country blues and lounge music has many influences. You can hear Son House, Bukka White and Blind Lemon Jefferson on cuts like the spiritual slide guitar song  "O Katrina," "You Know You Really Got The Blues," and "Railroad Mama" with it's Memphis jug band/rhythm spoons/washboard/banjo and harmonica sparse sound. Good songs. Good country blues. Lounge lizards will love "Moon Madness" with his great sinister low-key vocals,"You Can't Get There From Here," and his crooning vocals on "Nag, Nag, Nag," which could have been a hit for Pat Boone. "5 Weeks Of Heaven," more of a blues rocker, has a nice harp opening and is sorta like if the Ozark Mountain Daredevils covered a Robert Johnson tune ! Great stuff and a bit different. Country blues with a thoroughly modern touch. You can hear the traditional blues influences but there are plenty of  pop/garage/grunge punk/jazz/americana/gospel and rock influence twists all over the place that make this music tres chic in 2016. The opener, "Run John Run," is country blues with a bo diddley-ish beat! Blind Lemon does the vocals, plays the instruments, and is in charge of  the production. He wrote all the tunes with James Byfield and I just love his slide guitar playing. Real old time not like Duane or Johnny Winter playing their modern 'lots of notes' styles. Pledge's playing is more sparse and emotional. Jenny Reed wails on harp and Rick LeCompte plays sax and add their talents to the mix. Listen to her great harmonica on "She Broke The Ten Commandments," This album is first-rate and a lot of fun. Something for all blues music lovers on this release.  Very original. Very authentic. Very cool.
AJ Wachtel / Blues Music Magazine

James Byfield is Blind Lemon Pledge. His style is eclectic...the creative lyrics and weird but cool stories he tells are the high point here...The songs were really interesting and original and the music on the album was good...If you are looking for something very different, this may be for you.
Blues Blast Magazine

On "Pledge Drive", Byfield plays most of the instruments himself. Only on saxophone and harmonica does he get support, respectively from Rick Lecompte and Jenny Reed. The album consists of twelve great songs, ranging in style from bluesy ballads, New Orleans R & B to more solid rock work. As a lyricist Byfield is a master of his craft. Listen to "Birmingham Walk" on the Civil Rights Movement and "She Broke The Ten Commandments", a sad song about a lost love. My favorite songs are classic blues "You Know You Really Got The Blues" and the train song "Railroad Mama"...With 'Pledge Drive the listener led on a guided tour of the various shades of Americana. For me, it is a masterpiece.
www.bluesmagazine.nl and barnowlblues.punt.nl

Born James Byfield, the blues world knows him as Blind Lemon Pledge, a name he trademarked in 2015.  A multi-instrumentalist, he also produced his latest set for OFEH Records, "Pledge Drive."  Over the course of these twelve originals, "BLP" (for short) takes the listener on a musical journey that covers blues, Fifties'-styled  R & B, New Orleans jazz, and just about anything else you can think of...We said this was a varied and eclectic outing, and, as you can see, this one covers many styles and situations.  Blind Lemon Pledge is a monster player of many instruments, and makes "Pledge Drive" a sho' nuff sweet ride, indeed!   
donandsherylsbluesblog.wordpress.com / The Nashville Blues Society

This successor to the wonderful "Evangeline" again shows the variety which is key to James "Blind Lemon Pledge" Byfield. As on that album, the music show shows that he is anything but stuck in one style. He easily switches decisively back and forth between a true multitude of roots music styles and variants...In summary: again a very nice record, the fifth for Byfield. Do yourself a favor and get hold of them!

Blind Lemon Pledge...plays such a wide diversity of styles that I had to remind myself from time to time that it was the same individual performing in each track.  From the Bo Diddley styling of "Run John Run" to the down and dirty, haunting tone of "Moon Madness", a tune written from the perspective of a stalker.  From there he jumps to a sax-driven number with a feel of the jump style of the likes of Louis Jordan.  Add the melancholy tone of "Cora Lee" about the sadness of lost love.  Essentially Pledge Drive is all over the map as far as style is concerned.  Yet, somehow, it flows quite naturally... This cat has so many sides that if you dwell on it for too long you are liable to go nuts.  This is one artist who cannot and will not be put into a box.  This album is like taking a rollercoaster ride through blues and roots music with each stop featuring something exciting, fresh and reminiscent of some part of the soundtrack of my life.  Bottom line, I like it...a lot.  Like an emotional thrill ride, I never knew where the next leg of the journey would take me...A master wordsmith, musician, vocalist and storyteller, Byfield manages to capture his audience and take them on a delightful journey of sounds and emotions that covers a full range of blues, soul, and so much more.  This one has a little bit of something for everyone.  
Bill Wilson / chickenwilson2.blogspot.com

Pledge Drive, by Blind Lemon Pledge, is an outstanding Americana blues album. It is as eclectic as its composer is unique in the lexicon of American musicians. With genre defying rockers like ' Run John Run ' and 'Five Weeks Of Heaven', beautiful ballads ' Cora Lee ' and You Cant Get There From Here ', Rags like ' Nag Nag Nag ' and ' Rail Road Mama ' and a zesty gumbo of authentic blues tracks of various hues, that separately offer a taste for everyone, or together form a distinctive, but harmonious whole that will thrill music lovers with a taste for quality. This is a great album folks, check it out
Pete 'Amigo' Williams / Made in the shade / Sunbury Radio / Melbourne 99.3 fm

No, it's not Martin Mull finally making good on an off handed remark, it's a real cat that has something to say.  Sinister sounding white boy blues, Pledge isn't here just to party as many of his songs are pretty thought provoking.  Taking white boy blues to new destinations, this is an interesting bet for open ears looking for kicks that are a mix of right down the middle and from deep in left field at the same time.  Certainly for those times when it's time for something completely different.
Chris Spector / Midwest Record

Blind Lemon Pledge takes us on a musical journey through Rock, Blues and Roots Music. It's incredible how many instruments the man can play. He composes excellent songs in these different styles. You've got to love him!
Luc Meert  / www.rootstime.be

Multi-instrumentalist / vocalist James Byfield, under his pseudonym Blind Lemon Pledge, has again produced a killer album. Together with his comrades Jenny Reed (harp) and Rick LeCompte (saxophone) he has recorded twelve songs that delight us with a compelling and swinging journey through the American musical landscape...Blind Lemon Pledge has produced a sound palette of music. Clever!

Blind Lemon Pledge not only has one of the greatest stage names ever, he's a masterful musician, songwriter, and performer.  The artist (a.k.a. James Byfield) issued Evangeline in 2014, a completely solo effort in which he played all the instruments and explored a variety of musical styles beyond the blues.....folk, jazz, old style pop, and country.  For his latest release, Pledge Drive (Ofeh Records), Pledge has crafted a dozen tunes that continue to explore the American musical palette, but with more of a blues rock edge than his previous effort...Pledge Drive is an entertaining and diverse look at blues and Americana musical styles, and you'd be hard pressed to find a better guide through this music than Blind Lemon Pledge.
Graham Clarke / Friday Blues Fix Blog / Blues Bytes

Blind Lemon Pledge aka James Byfield is a rocker at heart, but brings you some quite good blues on his latest album, Pledge Drive...Pledge Drive is fine addition to my ever-growing blues collection...Pledge Drive has many fine moments that I will love to return to from time to time.
Mr.Blue Boogie

I just recently received a CD titled PLEDGE DRIVE from a gentleman sporting the moniker of "Blind Lemon Pledge." Cracked me up the first time I read that. At first I wasn't sure if this was for real, or maybe a parody act like Weird Al Yankovic, but when I remembered that Weird Al can actually play, I thought it would be fun to listen to...After popping the CD into my player, I quickly realized that this was no parody act, but an old school sounding homage to an earlier, more gentle sound that still had some edge to it. It's a fascinating album that may not be to everyone's taste, but I enjoyed it very much and look forward to finding his previous albums and checking those out as well...Pledge is reminding me of Elvis Costello's early approach to his album. He mixes and matches his style on every song, finding different sounds, and not being afraid to experiment, even knowing that it may not appeal to everyone...Plus, his songs generally run about three minutes each. They're quick and it forces him to find the story quickly. This is not always a bad thing. It keeps us guessing and if we stumble onto a song that doesn't catch our fancy as much as another, it's quickly ended and we move on to the next one...Definitely marches to his own six-strings and well worth checking out.

Blind Lemon Pledge continues walking us through an impressive display of tasty, genre blending tunes in an exercise of versatility and masterful song-craftmanship...Blind Lemon Pledge is a master of the craft. A true musician, composer, and songwriter... Pledge Drive will not disappoint your ears or musical tastes.

All educational and professional indications are that James Byfield, aka Blind Lemon Pledge, is a northern California boy. His new album's musical heart and soul, however, is deep in the American south...Byfield runs his blues banner up the flag pole with this album and its one you can pledge allegiance to.

I have to warn all those who are not savvy enough or patient not to engage in listening to the album, that this is not your typical blues album. Maybe someone should just listen to the last song, "Rail Road Mama", and have a good lie down and somehow suppress the familiar thirst for generally acceptable blues forms...Blind Lemon embarks on this studio album in a very personal exploration of musical forms, which ultimately results in an entirely new and modern musical expression. He is not afraid to use absolutely all the instruments and all what can be used and produce a tone, as it does not hide his fascination with antique sound jug bands and moreover when added to a new, modern blues arrangements obtained by this very unusual musical expression...Blind Lemon Pledge album "The Pledge Drive" has created another piece of music that recalls the sound of blues and Americana. Will it be enough, we will see in the near future, but true connoisseurs should hear and feel something.

There are few artists whose names are so flippant and clever, they sound like they were born on a Simpsons episode. Blind Lemon Pledge is one of those rare artists and while his name is irreverent, his respect for the blues runs true and deep. His latest album "Pledge Drive" is a journey bringing blues and traditional Americana sounds to address modern life's issues...Blind Lemon Pledge has crafted a rich, passionate album with "Pledge Drive". He makes great use of both his voice and solid playing from the instrumentalists joining him to create mood and atmosphere, sometimes adding depth in unexpected ways. There is a musical purity and sincere respect for each musical tradition represented throughout the album, making "Pledge Drive" a drive worth taking.
Dana Saravia / Steel Notes Magazine

"Pledge Drive" is an album on which Byfield plays almost all the instruments himself. Only saxophonist Rick LeCompte and Jenny Reed on harmonica contribute to this album. This multi-instrumentalist plays among others, percussion, guitars, keyboards, harmonica, various wind instruments, bass (guitar) and erhu, a two-stringed violin from China... This is an album which demands repeated listening before you truly understand where he is going. Certainly not an album for purists, but one for lovers with a broader perspective on the genre.
bluesnroots corner

In 2014, FBF friend and New York Blues Hall of Famer Michael Packer turned me on to the music of Blind Lemon Pledge (a.k.a. James Byfield), who has to have the greatest stage name ever.  Pledge plays the blues, but he also explores other musical styles, such as jazz, folk, old timey pop, and country.  His last release (Evangeline) was a completely solo effort.....he played all the instruments but used aliases in the liner notes.....but on this new release, he does use other musicians on a few tracks...Pledge Drive has a dozen songs that explore the vast American musical palette, just like his previous release, but the songs have more of a blues rock edge this time around.  He's a talented songwriter who writes some pretty entertaining songs about modern life, including romances good and bad, office rage, gun control, and even a few historical events such as Katrina and the Civil Rights Movement.  He's an excellent guitarist, especially on slide, and singer.  Pledge Drive is a very entertaining and diverse look at blues and roots music from an artist who deserves to be heard.