James Brown Lecture
Bristol Society of Magic
7th September 2006
Reviewed by Terry Ford
I had already heard the buzz about JB, seen some of his new DVD and was now waiting expectantly for the man himself. This is what happened next.
James started his lecture by asking us to forget the moves and just enjoy the magic. The point being that we all need to have experienced magic to be able to share it with others. Experience it we did.
In performance he comes across as likable and fun. He has quite an understated presentational style that makes a good backdrop to the quite frankly jaw dropping magic that he performs.
Seeing him on DVD does not do justice to his performing style at all. My initial thoughts were that his style would feel like a challenge to the spectators, especially with tricks like card to pocket or card under box that have repeat phases. However in real life this turns out not to be the case as you are swept along by surprise after surprise, each effect building to an effective climax.
Most of the trick content followed the contents of the DVD, along with a great one-coin routine and a lovely clean version of recap. Much of the material was card magic with cards changing and disappearing, only to be found in impossible locations. Cards & coins were appearing in pockets, under watches and well, everywhere really. The deck also managed to disappear more than once! There was some watch stealing going on as well. It strikes me that JB seems to have found the balance between magic that appeals to the layman and magician alike. No mean feat in itself.
All the items were taught in full, and rather well. JB is a confident and entertaining lecturer. There was detail when needed and many times the motivation behind performing a move or action in a certain way was carefully explained. Extra detail was always given when asked. This also lead to a few interesting digressions and stories.
Watching and listening to JB was like a quick tour through the best advice given about magic in the last 100 years or so, including demonstrations. It is always a treat to watch a magician who has really thought about what he is doing and analyzed things from the spectators point of view …then having done that, managed to put spontaneity back into each presentation. It is obvious that he has refined each effect and improved them over time.
This is a lecture that works on many levels. The magic is great to watch, not only is it enjoyable, but I’m not ashamed to say that some of the tricks fooled me completely. You will learn some great tricks, some of the sleights such as the side steal, may take a little time to learn if you do not already know them, but there was also material that was fairly easy to perform sleight-wise. You can also learn a lot of presentational and misdirection tips. Maybe even more importantly when you watch James perform you will realize what a powerful tool misdirection can be …because it happens to you as you watch. Excellent stuff.
Long story short. See this lecture.
© Terry Ford, September 2006