Jim was born in New York City and raised on
Long Island. He started playing acoustic guitar at age 12, inspired by the British
Invasion. By high school, his tastes ran to country/rock music such as Buffalo
Springfield, Poco, New Riders of the Purple Sage, etc. Through this music, Jim became
exposed to, and fell hopelessly in love with, the sound of the pedal steel guitar.
His first influence on the instrument was the steeler for Poco, Rusty Young.
In 1970, he moved to St. Louis, MO to attend college at Washington University, and somehow
stumbled into DeWitt Scott ("Scotty"), who ran (and still runs) a tiny, but influential
steel guitar studio on the outskirts of town. Scotty became Jim's first steel guitar
teacher and sold him his first steel guitar (a 1940's-model Gibson Electraharp, with 8
strings and 6-pedals coming off the side: what a contraption!) While in college, Jim earned
some pocket money by playing steel for a country-rock band called "Whitehorse". Among other
places, they used to play regularly at Chuck Berry's private club on his home grounds in
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Jim continued to play, on and off, working in a
variety of jazz, country and swing bands in Missouri, Florida and Pennsylvania. During
that time, he was fortunate to have the opportunity to study steel guitar with many of the
world's finest players, including Buddy Emmons, Jeff Newman, Paul Franklin, Maurice
Anderson, Bobby Black, Winnie Winston, and others.
In 1994, influenced by hearing a Junior Brown concert while on a visit to Austin, Jim
decided to form his own western swing band, Beats Walkin'. That group remains
together to this date and performs widely around the Philadelphia, PA area. Their debut
album, Western Omelette was released in 1997. In 2002, they released their second
CD, a live recording entitled Bop-a-billy Swing!, to critical acclaim.
In recent years, Jim has been much in demand for recording sessions around the
Philadelphia area, and as a solo performer at numerous steel guitar shows around
the country and in Europe where he continues to thrill audiences with his unique
style and arrangements of jazz, pop and classic rock tunes.
In 2000, Jim teamed up with producer, arranger and keyboardist extraordinaire,
Dan Kleiman, to produce his first solo CD. The disc, aptly entitled
was released to critical acclaim and showcases the many styles
and genres of music that Jim loves to play on steel guitar. With Dan's influence,
however, this is much more than just another "steel guitar recording".
We think you'll find it to be wonderful listening, no matter what kind of music
On his second CD,
"Four to the Bar",
Jim continues his tradition of cherry-picking
great melodies from his youth, as well as wonderful jazz standards, and uses some of
the top Philadelphia-area jazz musicians on this disc. Once again, producer Dan Kleiman
has "set the table", creating a wonderful backdrop for Jim's unique steel guitar
If you liked "Finally Here", you're sure to love "Four to the Bar".
In 2006, Jim released "Home, James", his tribute to the British Rock invasion of
the 1960s. As with his previous discs,
"Home, James" has enjoyed wide popular appeal and was reviewed in the Winter 2007
issue of "Fretboard Journal" where it was written, "In steel guitar circles,
Cohen is noted for his bebop chops, but 'Home, James' largely forgoes the fireworks
in favor of arrangements that focus on the strong melodies of a string of
British Invasion classics." Check out 'Home, James' for great tunes like,
'A Whiter Shade of Pale', 'Bus Stop', 'As Tears Go By', 'Time of the Season' and more.
In 2008, Jim released his first CD devoted to exclusively to country music -
a genre he had studiously avoided in the past - only because, as a steel guitarist, it was expected of him to play
country music. Entitled "Cohen Goin' Country", Jim explored the classic
country repertoire with songs written or popularized by artists including Merle Haggard,
George Jones, Hank Williams, Willie Nelson, The Everly Brothers, Skeeter Davis,
Linda Ronstadt and others.
Jim's latest (2012) release, "Pedal Steel Jazz" delves into the jazz standards repertoire
and features some of the very best Philadelphia-area jazz musicians, including Frank Strauss (keys),
Chico Huff (electric bass), Steve Beskrone (upright bass), and Grant MacAvoy (drums).
In addition, legendary jazz guitarist, Jimmy Bruno, appears on two tunes. To sweeten the pot even further, six of the world's
greatest living steel guitarists appear on the final track, an original jazz-blues Jim wrote, called
"Jimbeaux's Blues"; guests soloists include Maurice Anderson (formerly with Bob Wills'
Texas Playboys), Lucky Oceans (founding member/steel guitarist, Asleep at the Wheel),
Randy Beavers (Leann Womack), Buck Reid (Lyle Lovett), Doug Jernigan (Nashville steel guitar legend),
and Chuck Campbell (The Campbell Brothers). This album is sure to change the perception of pedal steel as a complete musical instrument,
capable of jazz or any other genre of music, when in the right hands.