Dr. James Limerick Kerr is a guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and educator based in the NYC/Connecticut area.
James completed a doctorate in classical guitar performance in 2016 at Stony Brook University (SUNY). He studied jazz as an undergrad at the University of Michigan, and received a master's in music education from Columbia University. James Limerick Kerr Duo performances incorporate acoustic blues and bluegrass, along with original compositions for the resonator steel guitar (Dobro). "His playing ability is head and shoulders above most players." (The New Haven Register)
His mother’s family is from New Orleans, and James grew up in New Haven, Connecticut deeply immersed in American musical traditions. His grandfather the Rev. C. Julian Bartlett was responsible for commissioning Duke Ellington to compose and perform The Sacred Concert at Grace Cathedral. His grandfather remained friends with Ellington for the remainder of the composer's life, and was invited to the legendary 70th birthday tribute at the White House. On the other side of the family, James' uncle the jazz pianist Brooks Kerr performed with the Ellington Orchestra, studied piano with Willie "the Lion" Smith, and worked with numerous Ellington alumni.
Dr. Kerr is Associate in Music Performance faculty at Columbia University, where he teaches applied classical and bluegrass guitar and directs the Bluegrass Ensemble. He also teaches guitar at Naugatuck Valley Community College, John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY), and Neighborhood Music School in his hometown of New Haven, CT. As a dedicated educator and private instructor Dr. Kerr possesses the ability to be equally at home in the worlds of slide and steel guitar, acoustic blues, bluegrass Dobro, jazz, banjo, bass, and classical guitar.
Dr. Kerr is the author of A Twenty-First Century Guidebook for Guitarists: Practice, Performance, and Teaching (Kendall Hunt), a textbook for college guitar students.
James taught himself the resonator steel guitar (Dobro) by listening to classic bluegrass recordings. He eventually enjoyed the honor of sitting in with his Dobro inspiration Jerry Douglas in 2018 at Opry City Stage in Manhattan.
As a sideman or ensemble member James Limerick Kerr has performed at such New York area venues as Irving Plaza, The Knitting Factory, Gracie Mansion, Trinity Church, The Wetlands, Symphony Space, as well as the Juilliard School and Yale University. James has performed as a soloist with the Mobile Symphony Orchestra and festival performances have included the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, The Craftsbury Chamber Festival, The Long Island Guitar Festival, The Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, and the Battery Park Summer Concert Series in Manhattan. After his first place finish at the 2022 Connecticut Blues Society Solo/Duo Challenge competition, James enjoyed the opportunity to represent CT at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, with two solo performances on historic Beale Street.