James and Cleo


James Griffin is a songwriter, spoken word performer, singer and playwright as well as a radio and television producer and presenter. He has been the host of Words, a weekly interview program about books, writing and ideas, which ran for five years on ABC Television and, for two years, was co-host of Australia Talks Books on Radio National.

The Agents rehearsal, Kirk Gallery, Sydney 1980

Back stage at the Sydney Town Hall, 1979

As a songwriter James collaborates with other Australian recording artists as well as writing for his own performances. His bands, The Agents and The Subterraneans have both appeared regularly in the independent music charts. His songs, Suburbs of the Heart and The Angel Run were independent chart hits for The Agents and The Subterraneans respectively.

Dressing for the occasion. Sydney, 1979

Jeannie Lewis included his satirical song, Australia's Just a Suburb of the USA in her acclaimed music show, Maroubra to Mexico and James co-wrote, with Joe Camilleri, the Black Sorrows top ten hit, Snakeskin Shoes.

The Agents at the Cloudland Ballroom, Brisbane 1979

James Griffin & the Limousines waiting to perform at the Roundhouse, University of NSW, Sydney, 1980

Country music artist, Lee Kernaghan's recording of Changi Banjo, which James co-wrote with Lee, won a Golden Guitar for Heritage Song of the Year at the Australasian Country Music Awards.

The Agents at the Heritage Hotel, Kings Cross, Sydney, 1981

As a performer James has played for many years in Sydney and other capital cities, headlining his own shows in a wide range of rock and acoustic music venues. He has also played in major music concerts and festivals all over Australia, sharing bills with many other Australian performers including the Bushwhackers, Paul Kelly and Midnight Oil. His solo music theatre works, The Land of a Thousand Dances and Songs for the Jukebox at the Ghost Town Bridge Hotel have both had seasons at La Mama Theatre in Melbourne.

With Gary the extra head, from photo shoot for Agents single, Merciless Cinema. Sydney 1982
Photo, Bruce Tindale

James and his bands have been invited to open concerts for a wide range of touring international music artists, including Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, T-bone Burnett, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, John Cale, The Fall, The Psychedelic Furs and John Cooper Clarke. As a music producer James co-ordinated, and produced, for ABC radio, two song collections Going Home and Moon Over Melbourne.

Backstage at the Chevron at the
Songs of the Pre War Era concert, 1984
L-R James, Russell Kilbey (The Crystal Set), Steven Kilbey (The Church), Peter Coutanche

On Stage at the Chevron, Sydney
L-R Steven Kilbey (The Church), James, Eddie Duchemin, Peter Kaldor.

Spoken Word Performance at Writers in the Park. 1986, Harold Park Hotel, Sydney

Going Home is a collection of Australian folk ballads performed by acclaimed rock, pop and contemporary music artists including Shane Howard, James Reyne, Paul Kelly, Doc Neeson, Jon English, Helen Noonan, David Bridie and Tommy Emmanuel.

Subterraneans performing at Sydney University, 1986
L-R Peter Coutanche, Marty Willson-Piper (The Church), James. Photo, Kim Sandeman.

Moon over Melbourne is a musical anthology of songs about Melbourne, collected from the work of Melbourne based song writers and performed by Melbourne based musicians including Paul Kelly, Jane Clifton, Doug de Vries, Paul Grabowsky and James Reyne.

Still from Subterraneans video clip for Blood of the Poet / (Just Like) Surf City. Sydney, 1986.

Both these collections were released as albums on CD by ABC Records.

James is also the producer of the jazz album, Red Hot Go by acclaimed saxophonist, Paul Williamson and his Hammond Combo.

Subterraneans, Sydney, 1987

A Melbourne version of the Subterraneans
L-R Johnny Murphy, Simon Polinksy, Shane Andalou, James, Peter Coutanche, Gus Till.
Photo, Linda Tanner 1986 or 1987

As a radio presenter and producer James has hosted a range of music programs on Triple J FM and ABC Local Radio, written and produced a number of musical radio plays for both Radio National and Triple J FM and written and produced many arts and culture documentaries for Radio National. James' latest project is the CD/book, Songs for a Season at Ghost Town Bridge.

Subterraneans, Sydney 1987
L-R James, Karl May, Peter Coutanche, Ian Neilson.
Photo, Tony Mott