Trailblazers 2017: James Buckley of Icehouse

James Buckley // Photo by Jason Larkin

James Buckley // Photo by Jason Larkin

Go to Icehouse on any given night, and you won’t be disappointed. There, you will find established artists like Lissie, jeremy messersmith, and Dave Simonett, and up-and-comers getting their first shot at filling the space with music that spans a wide range of genres. A key reason that room is constantly abuzz with thrilling talent is because of James Buckley, who’s been the venue’s talent buyer for the past five years.

“I had no idea what I was doing,” he laughs about taking the job. “It was a leap of faith.”

While most venues want sold-out shows every night, Buckley will often seek out bands that he feels deserve a chance. His main goal is providing a platform for amazing artists and growing the local music community in the process. He cites a recent Saturday in September with Spank Rock and Velvet Negroni where there were only around 100 people in the audience, but it was a show that blew his mind with its energy.

Buckley is also a bassist who’s working on a new musical project with Tim Sparks, and balancing music alongside his part-time job at Icehouse forces Buckley to compartmentalize everything in his life. Through his experience touring with The Pines, Gayngs, and Lizzo, he’s found that the more streamlined the booking process, the better it is for everyone involved. “I don’t like talent buyers, so it’s funny I am one,” he admits.

“I have a part-time job, and it’s one of the best ones you’ve heard of in your life,” he says about his work at Icehouse. “It’s a privilege. More than half the reason I succeed is because of this room, these people. I’ve only learned that over time. You know what creates a grain in wood? Time.”


Trailblazers are the people, ideas, businesses, and organizations doing necessary, important, and groundbreaking work in the realms of food, drink, and culture. See the rest of The Growler’s 2017 Trailblazers here.