James had to undergo valve replacement surgery today to repair a leak in his heart, resulting from a genetic birth defect. Previous surgery in 2011 when James was only 17 had attempted to repair the damaged valve, but further intervention is now required.
Friends and family are with him now at the hospital in Asheville, NC, and have set up a GoFundMe campaign to help pay his medical expenses. Like so many young touring musicians, James does not have medical insurance and will be responsible for the full costs of the procedure, and associated recovery costs.
The goal for the fund is to raise $50,000, and nearly a quarter of that total has been contributed in just four days. If all fans of the group, and of Schlender’s fine fiddle work, can pitch in with a donation, it seems likely that they can cover these costs in short order.
James is a native of Bozeman, MT, who studied violin at The University of Miami. He has a pair of nation fiddle championships under his belt, and is a regular in the top 10 finalists in the prestigious Grand Masters Fiddler competition each year in Nashville. In addition to classical and bluegrass music, James is adept in the worlds of jazz and swing.
Here is a video of he and Ryan Cavanaugh in a remarkable extended banjo/fiddle duet on Fisher’s Hornpipe, Reuben, and Big Sciota at Grey Fox earlier this year.
Please never forget how much our favorite touring acts give up in order to bring the music we love close to where we live. They experience somewhat chaotic lives, without the sort of income security and stable home life most folks take for granted. In addition to buying their recordings and attending shows, sometimes they need a little more before they become established in the business.
Donation pledges can be made online at GoFundMe using a major credit card, as a single payment or in installments.