In the fall of 2004, Team Love’s two founders traveled from New York City to Martha’s Vineyard to meet the kid. He was still in high school, but his songs were starting to pop up on local radio, and Team Love was keen to make the young man’s acquaintance.
While one path of this narrative leads to the story of Willy Mason and his debut album Where The Human’s Eat (TL02), there is another story to tell, and that’s of the kid’s mother, Jemima James.
Jemima tells us a bit about how it all started:
I grew up in Colorado and went to the Boston Museum School to study illustration. I joined a band, dropped out of art school and moved to New York City in the early 1970s with my partner Michael Mason.
On that cold autumn day in 2004, Jemima scrutinized the two visitors from the city, before showing them to the guest cabin that was shared by the communal living residents of the small social experiment they called home. She instructed the guests on how to throw cedar shavings into the pit toilets. Willy explained that his parents had left New York after becoming disillusioned with the 1970s folk scene.
I’ve been on and off writing, playing, and recording ever since [the early 70s], and now I’m 65. I’ve been a prep cook, preschool teacher, maid, caterer, counter girl, and have taken care of old people, which I still do.
Years passed after Team Love’s trip to Martha’s Vineyard. Willy followed his own path, but kept in touch, ‘til one day he called about Longview Farm. It was a studio back in the 70s and 80s, and his mother Jemima had worked there. She was then 27. She’d spent time with John Belushi there. She’d carried on writing songs there. Longview engineer, founder and owner Gilbert Scott Markle used to have this fantasy where Jemima’s great-grandfather William James, and her great-grand uncle Henry James, would hover over her shoulders as she’d make everyone eggs in the morning.
I recorded an album at beautiful Longview Farm-a residential recording studio in Western Massachusetts-where I lived and paid my way for three years cleaning, cooking, mucking, milking. I enjoyed serving J Geils Band, Tim Curry, Arlo Guthrie, Pat Metheny, John Belushi, Paul Winter, The Rolling Stones, Bill Graham, and others.
The album Jemima recorded at Longview Farm never saw the light of day. The tapes went onto a shelf in a room. The light was switched off.
In the mid 80s Michael Mason and I joined forces again and had two boys. Willy and Sam Mason. We raised them on Martha’s Vineyard. Both have grown to become highly accomplished artists, musicians, writers, delightful humans.
So, back to that call Willy made to Team Love. He told the whole story, about Longview Farm, about how his mother had gotten her hands on those tapes, how there was an album, a brilliant collection of her original songs that was needing a home. And there was more. Jemima never stopped making music, never stopped writing songs. A new album was in the works too, songs that carried on Jemima’s story, songs about age, songs about looking back, songs about experience and love and friendship and new beginnings.
Jemima tells us how the story looks now:
In the fall of 2016, Team Love Records will release two of my records on a double album. The 1979 album “At Longview Farm” and “When You Get Old,” which I recorded in October 2015 at Old Soul Studio in Catskill, New York, with my band, Good Night Louise.
Jemima’s great grandfather wrote, “Lives based on having are less free than lives based on either doing or on being.” One could argue that Jemima James has followed a path that very much represents this idea. Walking away from “the scene” to start a family, stepping away from the pursuit of fame for simpler pleasures. But all the while, writing, creating, perfecting.
Team Love is enormously proud to present to you these two bodies of work, and to introduce you to one of America’s great voices.