Music Runs Deep

by Sonja O’Steen

James Cochrun thinks of himself as a musical hobbyist. Hearing him play, you’d think he’s been performing on stage his entire life.

Music runs deeps in Cochrun’s family. His late grandfather, Merle Powell, is in the South Dakota Country Music Hall of Fame. At family gatherings growing up, his relatives would all play music together.

“I didn’t care when I was kid, especially because they were playing old country. It makes me very sad because I love it now,” he said.

Cochrun does an impromptu song upstairs at pAve in downtown Sioux Falls. Photos and video by Sonja O./O’Steen Photography.

Despite his family’s musical roots, the Harrisburg native has played the guitar for only six years and taught himself to play while watching Seinfeld re-runs. “I’d sit in my living room, watch Seinfeld, and just practice.”

Since learning, he’s sat in with a lot of my friends’ bands while living in Minneapolis, Las Vegas and Nashville. And it all started because of his love of dancing. Dancing led to meeting bands, which led to him sitting in with a friend’s band while in Nashville.

“When I was living in Nashville last year, my friend Timbo would let me come up and sit in with his band,” he said. The first time he played in Nashville he played with a fiddle player who is one of the best.

“I’m standing there playing and he’s coming in on my song and I’m just standing there in awe,” he said.

While he doesn’t consider himself a gigging musician, Cochrun does hope to have a band of his own someday. Right now, he’s having fun jumping in where he can.

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