Upon entering the Mill Pond Music Studio in Portsmouth, NH you are sure to be greeted by the welcoming presence of studio owner James Prendergast. James established the studio upon relocating back to New England from Nashville, Tennessee, where he had resided for 30+ years. According to industry standards, James has many years of experience on both sides of the glass, working as a studio musician, producer, and audio engineer. By his account, he has been playing on and producing demos with songwriters for the past 25+ years, currently totaling over 15,000 songs.
Although James’s musical career rings true to that of a working-class musician, his experiences have been a bit more extraordinary than most. With his musical interest sparked at a young age, James focused his entire professional life on the music industry. His journey began in 1970 when immediately after college graduation, he moved to London to work as a guitarist. After living in England for a few years, he returned to the states. To further his career, he took music courses at Peabody Conservatory and Berkley College of Music in Boston. While living in the Boston area, James turned his focus to the country music scene as he explained, “In Boston in the 1970s, if you knew country music, you could play out every night”. Then subsequently, after working the country music circuit in New England for a few years, James decided to move to Nashville.
He took a position working as a guitarist in Opryland USA, which housed about a dozen theaters that employed between 200-300 musicians annually. During the course of his tenure there, he accompanied many renowned Grand Ole Opry stars. These actions led to his becoming a sought-after studio musician in the Nashville area, ultimately leading to him playing aside the well-acclaimed “Nashville Cats.”
What had initially drawn James to becoming a musician was the folk scene of the 60s, which he had put on the back burner for the security of commercial work and a paycheck. He reflects on the earlier days of his career by simply stating, “When you’re in the trenches, you have to be versatile”. Although he was thankful for the development of his country music career and thoroughly enjoyed his time with his country colleagues, in 2003, he was offered a position at Finley’s Irish Pub at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel as the bandleader of an Irish trio. According to James, although at that time he was not well versed in Irish music, he saw it as an opportunity that could bring him back to the folk roots that he so enjoyed. James played with the trio The Boys of County Nashville until 2010, when he moved back to New England.
Upon moving to New Hampshire, James established musical roots in Portsmouth with the opening of Mill Pond Music Studio. When he decided to open the studio, his intentions were two-fold: first, he wanted to stay active in the music business using his knowledge and experience; and second, he wanted to focus on the thriving folk scene in the New England area. Although diversity in music is never frowned upon, Mill Pond Music Studio is particularly active with recording projects involving Folk, Celtic/Irish, and Bluegrass music. James is also extremely active in the local music community participating in concerts, and pub gigs, coaching at various music camps, as well as working with local songwriters. Although James has become well-established in the north country once again, he also manages to keep a musical foothold in his previous neighborhood by continuing project-based work in the Nashville area.
For further information on James Prendergast and the Mill Pond, Music Studio, visit the website: https://www.millpondmusicstudio.com/.