Singer with ties to Bullhead City performs Thursday at MHS auditorium
BULLHEAD CITY — James D. Gish doesn’t believe in wasting time. He’s not about sitting by the phone waiting for things to happen — the young performing artist from Bullhead City is out there, making things happen for himself.
Gish, who graduated from Mohave High School four years ago, has put his tenacity and work ethic to good use. In a relatively short time, he has made serious progress in his dreams of becoming a world-class performer by taking on various projects around the country.
His first return to Bullhead City last September, with his “So In Love” debut album in tow, was to celebrate its launch in his hometown where everything started.
The community rallied behind the singer, as proud of his accomplishments as he is of where he comes from. The album with DW Music at Warner Brothers Studios, featured a 53-piece orchestra and full supporting choir and hit the Top 10 on iTunes for the full week of its release.
This time, Gish has been invited back to Bullhead City as the opening concert for the Colorado River Concert Association’s 2018-2019 season, today in Mohave High School’s auditorium. The box office opens at 6:15 p.m., the concert starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 each.
“I would like to think I am on the cusp of doing (great things) and that I’m headed in the right direction all the time. So I’m doing my best,” Gish said. “I guess it’s better than being bored all the time.”
Gish doesn’t have to worry about boredom. He manages to keep busy and isn’t complaining.
“The most notable thing I’ve done this year is probably this last summer when I sang in a show at Caesar’s Palace and that was a ton of fun,” he said. “It was sort of a salute to old-time Vegas performers in an hour-long swanky lounge-type show. I was with this beautiful orchestra and there were four of us singers. It was a fantastic time.”
Gish recenlty closed “West Side Story” in Phoenix, playing Tony.
“I will be doing some of the music from ‘West Side’ in my concert. I’ll be singing ‘Maria’ because that’s a really big favorite of everyone’s,” he said. “I also spent a little time in New York City and I did some singing there. I also had a little concert series in Vegas where I did my own show earlier in the year.”
The kid is talented enough to sing just about anything, so figuring out his style is a bit of a puzzle.
“I do enjoy singing just about everything, you know? One thing I love about musical theater, is that you get to sing so many different styles all the time — whether it’s old classical or it’s golden age music, or rock or what have you,” Gish said. “But my genre is as a solo singer. It’s more in the classical-crossover vein, and the easiest way that I can describe what that is — as broad as the spectrum is — it’s sort of the midway point between Andrea Bocelli and opera, and Josh Groban. Then mix in artists like Justin Bieber, and all your common pop artists. Essentially it’s a genre that takes a lot of classical music in a more classical legitimate sound, and then incorporates contemporary vocal stylings and musical flavors to bring new life and sounds to light that people really haven’t heard before. So it’s very fun.”
Gish isn’t just performing standards and covers, he’s now mixing in some originals.
“I absolutely have been trying my hand at songwriting. I am just beginning the process with my label out of Nashville to begin our second album, which we’re hoping to record and release about a year from now,” he said. “This will be my second album ever, but it will include original music and the concert I will be doing in Bullhead is going to have three or four original songs that no one has ever heard before. It’s going to be kind of cool for them and it’s special to me because I owe Bullhead everything. I want them to get a taste of that music before it’s recorded and released to the public. I want to know what they think of it and if they enjoy it, sort of like a trial run for the songs.”
Gish’s upcoming concert is both a retrospect and celebration of his career thus far.
“It’s traditional when an artist releases an album, or a first album, they have a big celebratory release concert, and my producers asked me, ‘where do you want to do it? We can arrange for you to do it here in Nashville or maybe New York or L.A or something,’ ” he said. “It’s funny because I said, ‘No, I actually want to do it in Bullhead City.’ ”
So Bullhead City became party central for his album release.
The success of that concert prompted the Concert Association to reach out to Gish for a return visit, he said.
“Of course, I said yes, because how cool is it to get to do it again,” he added. “I do anticipate that this will probably be the last time I’m there, the way things are developing, that I won’t be performing in Bullhead for probably a very long time.
“So this is very special to me. I get to have this sort of last hurrah, so to speak.”
Attendees can expect a classical crossover flavor, with a lot of fun swing jazz from Frank Sinatra, some “Mack the Knife,” ballads like “Maria,” from
“West Side Story,” and a little bit of classic rock trickled in there, he said.
“I’ve even taken a couple of songs and tweaked them to better appeal to the Bullhead City audience, and that’s very, very funny,” Gish said. “I don’t want to give too much away about that. I’ll also do three or four original songs, which will be cool.”
His only accompanying musician will be a pianist.
“For this, I wanted to go for a very simple and intimate feel for the show, just because of my connection with Bullhead City,” he said. “I wanted to keep the production kind of minimal, so that it feels more like I’m just getting to hang out with all of my friends, and talk and tell bad jokes all night, sing some songs and have a good time.”
As a fresh act, Gish already has a song he considers his signature piece.
“It’s called ‘Roads,’ and it was on my album that I recorded last year and it’s very special to me,” he said. “I’m extremely family-oriented and I’m very dedicated to where I come from and places where I got my start. Bullhead is like my ground zero and this song is all about how no matter where you are in life, no matter what happens, what issues you face, trials and tribulations, whatever trodden path you have to take, there’s always a road that will lead you home.”
Gish experienced something of a life-changing epiphany when he first performed in the high school auditorium only a few years earlier.
“There was a very quick time in my life when I came to the conclusion, that this isn’t only what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, it was a matter of needing to do for the rest of my life,” Gish said. “My senior year at Mohave, when we did ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and I got to play the Phantom — it was very challenging but yet it was so rewarding.”
Gish offered up-and-coming performers a bit of advice.
“What a lot of artists make the mistake of doing is they don’t always want to open the door when opportunity knocks,” he said. “They’re too afraid, or they’re nervous, or a lot of the time egos can get in the way and people think they’re too good for a certain project or that that’s not quite right for them. I’ve learned that so much more can happen to you, and come your way if you’re just friendly to everybody.” Gish added. “It has everything to do with getting your name out there, getting opportunities, getting shows, getting bookings, getting concert venues booked. So often people just don’t appreciate what they’ve got. The fact that I get to do this for a living is ridiculous. I get paid to sing ‘Tra la la la la.’ ”
Gish is grateful for the opportunities he had, he said.
“There aren’t a lot of people who can say that and it’s really surreal that that’s what I get to do and for that I’m so thankful. So I say thank you all the time. It’s sort of a subconscious thing, but I’ve learned what an impact that can have.”
Season tickets are $80 for four performances. For more information on the concert series or to purchase tickets go to www.crconcerts.com.