Ravine Records, formerly known as Bridge Street Records, is an independent music label and recording studio founded by multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter, composer and producer, Darrin James. James was born in Kentucky, raised in Michigan, and he spent a decade in New York City, performing regularly as a fixture in Brooklyn's thriving indie music scene of the early 2000's. James' first releases, "Thrones of Gold" from 2006, and "The Lovely Ugly Truth" from 2009, were released under the banner of Bridge Street Records, James' original label, named after the street where his loft studio was located in the neighborhood of DUMBO, Brooklyn. James was forced to abandon the Bridge Street Records brand after receiving legal challenges from the larger, similarly named label, Bridge Records. In 2010 James relocated from Brooklyn to Ann Arbor, MI, where he immediately set up a recording studio in his home, a rustic, modern house, clinging to the side of a steep, wooded ravine near the Huron River, hence the name. The scenic views provided a relaxing backdrop for his frequent recording sessions that involved musicians from both New York City and the local Detroit and Ann Arbor music scenes. After a couple of years, James decided to take the plunge of leasing a larger space that would be dedicated to recording. He moved into an available commercial space, conveniently located on North Main Street in Ann Arbor, and began hosting weekly jam sessions and composer workshops, which he recorded with state-of-the-art equipment. Almost overnight, a new scene began to sprout that attracted many talented musicians from Detroit and Ann Arbor, with a particularly strong contingent of jazz musicians. The studio's high, wood-paneled ceiling give his recordings an earthy vibe that works particularly well with horn sections, and James began collaborating more frequently with some of the area's best musicians working in jazz and related genres such as funk, experimental, free jazz, and world music.
2014 saw the first two releases for Ravine Records, Darrin James' own "Bombs Away" (LP, CD, digital) and the self titled, "Ornamatik" (CD, Digital), both boasting large horn sections and funky beats. "Bombs Away" signals a new direction for Darrin James towards a more composed, jazz, funk and world-influenced aesthetic than his prior albums, which leaned towards roots-rock, blues and Americana. "Ornamatik," on which James also plays guitar, is a Balkan-themed project that fuses traditional music of the Balkans (Greek, Turkish, Macedonian, Albanian, Romanian, Bulgarian, etc) with a distinctly American funk and vibe. These are just the first releases from this new record label, and they give a glimpse into the eclectic, funky grooves that are brewing in Michigan. With Darrin James at the helm, they are sure to catch some attention in the years to come. Look out for new releases in 2015!