James is a singer-songwriter who enjoys engaging with the audience, whether at a concert or at a more personal event such as a birthday or other special occasion. Clifford has a massive repertoire. It includes over 180 of his own compositions (2/3 English, 1/3 German, a few French) and almost 400 cover songs ranging from traditional folk, blues and jazz as well as ballads of the 1970s through to today (see archived repertoire links in table below). These he supports with his self-taught guitar styles. Contact music[att]jamesclifford.at for up-to-date repertoires.
Although he is a solo singer-songwriter, James very much enjoys being involved in gatherings at which people share something of themselves – an enjoyment nourished during his earlier days at singarounds in Folk Clubs in England. This interest inspired him to set up a Culture Cafe in Steyr, a beautiful town in Austria, where he spent much of his time before moving to a different part of Austria. The Steyr Culture Cafe still exists, coordinated by other members (see Events).
James finds song-writing a fascinating process – feelings and sounds evolve into words, which then take form. He doesn’t know where it comes from but he often says “thank you” to the unknown.
Clifford works with a variety of projects and organisations involved in supporting moves towards a more just, environmentally sensitive future for life on this planet. This includes producing broadcasts for free Radio
James was brought up in Brighton, a town with close links to sea and country, which provided the real education in his early life. All forms of fishing from boats and beach – nets, pots, rod-and-line… filled much of his free-time, as did learning how to catch rabbits, without making a noise. The voices came afterwards, singing with a car full of smoke on the way home.
Yes, he did go to school and after a year hitch-hiking through Europe and eastwards towards India, he went to university. This opened doors to engineering jobs, which took him around the World. It was only in his mid 30s, having been through thousands of miles, awash with alcohol and broken relationships that he realised he was living his father’s dream of being an engineer, rather than his own life.
After returning from Indonesia and a broken relationship, James moved from project planning in the oil, gas and power-station industries to project planning in non-profit organisations; developing and working in partnership with organisations pursuing environmentally sustainable, fair and peaceful futures i.e. following the feeling of what he wanted to do, rather than doing what seemed to be the thing to do. He’d always enjoyed singing, notably joining in choruses at folk sessions. This continued.
His partner at this time was a wonderfully warm-hearted, creative person with whom James built up different projects and with whom his feeling for expressing himself through music developed. Despite this relationship ending, after moving to Austria, James continued to express himself through music and increasingly through song-writing.
Clifford’s broad life’s experiences, observations and subsequent reflections, have fed into the humorous, satirical nature of many of his songs, as well as his heart-felt love songs. The writing has continued to flourish, in James’ shared life with wife Andrea, in a quiet part of the Austrian country-side, with occasional trips to the UK.