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Nov 28th
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Rock Out Knockout

blog durbinJessica AbramsonLocal hero James Durbin performs acoustic set at Kuumbwa Jazz

The atmosphere inside Kuumbwa Jazz was buzzing with anticipation as local hero James Durbin was brought to the stage for a top secret acoustic promo concert Tuesday, Jan. 17. Durbin calls it “The first annual Acoustic Thunder Southern Hemi Tour,” and adds, “it’s a farewell tour.” The hope is that by saying he’s leaving, people will come to the shows thinking it’s his last. Well aware of the irony, Durbin explains, “Judas Priest just did it, Kiss did it, Cher did it.” No matter the name of the tour, Tuesday night’s crowd—mostly middle-aged radio contest winners and their families—went nuts.

The recently married Durbin is the kind of kid you have to root for—22 years old and living the rock and roll dream. Backstage, Durbin remembers: “I was working at Dominoes in Santa Cruz and the American Idol auditions were that weekend, and the boss wouldn’t give me the day off. Two days later the owners called us all into the office and said they were going out of business.” The rest, as they say, is history.

Durbin’s new band—made up of old friends and road-tested metal heads—accompanied him on Conan recently for a blistering rendition of “Love Me Bad.” Joining him on stage Tuesday were two of his band members—local rocker Dylan Rosenberg from Archer, and Blake Bunzel from L.A. metalcore band In This Moment, who has toured the world in support of bands like Korn and Sevendust. While the seven song set at Kuumbwa was stripped down to the bare essentials, the power of the songs off Durbin’s new album, Memories of a Beautiful Disaster, was evident.
In private, Durbin relates that as he was getting ready to perform at a recent 49ers game, all of the lights went out in Candlestick Park. “I had never been to a live football game and I thought it was part of the show. It went dark and everyone started screaming so I thought something big was about to happen. And I could see the big inflatable thing the team runs out of and it was starting to deflate, and I noticed everyone running around in a panic. People were blowing up my phone telling me that the power was out and a transformer blew up.”
Just another day in the life of a rock star.

It’s no secret that Durbin wanted to bring the rock to American Idol—and turning young people on to heavy metal is a passion of his. “I think one of the greatest things about music is no matter what genre you listen to it can really affect you,” he says. “Music has always been a big part of the youth culture and kids are impressionable. I like the idea of turning somebody on to something they haven’t heard before.”

For more information about James Durbin and his new album, visit

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