\ KITCHENER, 200128, 09:45 \
Although all the details have not yet been made public, it is confirmed that James Cameron, an up-and-coming Country songwriter from Kitchener, passed away suddenly at his home on Sunday Jan. 26 at just 26 years of age.
No post had yet been made to his Facebook music page as of Tuesday morning, but the photo in the funeral home obituary is unmistakably him and a number of local musicians have already posted condolences there and on Instagram.
His death, believed to be suicide, comes as “a total shock, something no one saw coming and that nobody can understand,” a longtime friend and musical associate told TorontoMoon.ca.
“He was excited about expecting his album to be released soon when I talked to him last week,” the friend said, adding that he had been told by other friends that “he seemed in great spirits at his show Friday night and again the next night” when he went to see a band at a local Country bar where he was also a regular performer.
Two nights before his death, according to his Facebook artist page, the young singer-guitarist, who was noteworthy both for his high-energy original tunes and for the red pants he habitually wore on stage, had performed acoustically at the Whale and Ale Tavern in Kitchener.
His James Cameron Band was a popular regular monthly act at Guelph Country bar Stampede Ranch among many others in the K-W area and across Ontario and fans attending his gigs often wore red pants, calling themselves the “RedPantsNation” to promote and celebrate their devotion to his music.
He was also for several years a member of the The Bareback Riders band based in Hamilton, joining the veteran Country Rock covers combo as lead singer and acoustic guitarist “when he was just a kid of 18,” the group’s founder, Colin Connors, told TorontoMoon.ca in a phone interview.
He continued in that role until a couple of years ago, when he left to start his own James Cameron Band, “since he was always focused on making music a career and always also had a solo thing going with his songwriting,” Connors said.
Connors will be hosting a 3-6 p.m. musical memorial to Cameron this coming Sat., Feb. 1 at Kitchener’s Schwaben Club at 1668 King St. E. in Kitchener, where his band is scheduled to perform that night and Cameron’s band was also a regular attraction.
While pursuing his songwriting career Cameron, at just 19 years of age, opened for Blue Rodeo at the prestigious Music In The Fields Country festival, at which he also won the first-ever Emerging Artist Showdown and where both BbR and his own band became regular features. He and his band also opened for artists such as Terri Clark, Dean Brody, Chad Brownlee and Travis Tritt, among others.
Mackenzie Leigh Meyer, a popular County artist who also regularly performs at Stampede Ranch, posted on her Instagram account that “Before I was a musician I’d go watch him play and was blown away by the amount of talent one person could have. Thank you for being my inspiration to become a musician. I am so grateful for your friendship and will always cherish the memories we made.”
Stampede Ranch owner Andrew Mackay posted on the condolences page of the Henry Walser Funeral Home listing that “James was an incredible human being - our thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends.”
Videos of Cameron performing his original tunes as well as covers can be viewed on his YouTube channel.
A private family service will be held on Friday at the funeral home’s chapel at 507 Frederick Street, Kitchener.
Connors said he expects that in addition to this Saturday afternoon’s musical memorial at the Schwaben, which will have an open stage and be hosted by his band, that there will be something more elaborate put together by Cameron’s musical friends, possibly to help raise awareness for the “Let’s Talk” or similar initiative or as a fundraiser for a charity dear to James, such as KidsAbility.