Jim Halfpenny was born in rural Southern California in a desert farming community that is crisscrossed by veins of life-giving canals that bring water to an otherwise arid landscape. His high school summer days were spent driving tractor and working in the fields, often side by side with migrant farm workers. At night he’d practice guitar and perform at parties and high school dances in the rock band where he wrote his first song. Considering these rootsy origins it’s clear why Jim’s music is rich with earthy textures – he’s borrowed from the soil he used to cultivate as a kid, and from the limestone beds of the Texas Hill Country where he has now transplanted himself.
Before August of 2002 Jim lived in Los Angeles, California. He had graduated from Musician’s Institute and attended UCLA to study film composition and his career as a film composer was flourishing. In his twelve years of working in Los Angeles’ competitive film business his music credits tallied over 25 feature film scores, dozens of movie trailers, a 13 episode series for television and a musical production for the stage. His work often encompassed musical styles ranging from rap to orchestral and everything in between. A vacation trip to visit friends in Austin changed everything. After returning to LA Jim and his wife sold their home, left California, bought a house and some land in the Hill Country outside of Austin, built a recording studio on their property and named it Back 40 Studios.
Taking advantage of new found inspiration, the first project to come out of Back 40 Studios was Jim’s debut CD, First Things First. The album was released in June of 2006 and by the end of that summer it had garnered some pretty impressive reviews in music magazines in the Austin area and abroad. “Halfpenny writes deep, thought provoking lyrics”, wrote Maria Mesa of Austin Daze magazine, “one of the better singer/songwriters to come my way.” Jim Caligiuri, of the Austin Chronicle noted in his review, “First Things First is filled with sturdy roots rock and occasional treks to Dave Matthews’ space jazz.” “Highly recommended!” quoted Laura Bethell of Maverick Magazine in Kent, England. The CD soon found its way to the airwaves both locally in Austin and regionally on independent radio stations across Central Texas. In the spring of 2009 Jim’s saxophone-laced newgrass song, Severe Weather was selected to be on Austin NPR’s first-ever Texas Music Matters Playlist – it was one of only 15 songs chosen out of hundreds of submissions. Laura Slavin of KPFT FM, in Houston, also began playing Severe Weather regularly on her program and has repeatedly invited Jim to play live-on-air on her show. Jim’s second CD, Truth Trust & Other Ghosts, was released in June of 2010 and hit the road running. After teaming up with a prominent radio promoter out of Nashville the album hit the national Americana (AMA) Charts and received airplay on radio stations ranging coast to coast. In January of 2011 radio station WWSP FM, in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, included the Truth Trust & Other Ghosts #5 track, Dandelion, on their BEST OF 2010 RELEASES list.
The past few years Jim has targeted the national festival circuit to expose his music to a wide variety of audiences. Among the list of music festivals Jim has performed are the Key Largo Original Music Festival, The Mississippi Songwriters Festival and the Mirrors on Texas Music Festival. He is also a board member and founding producer of the Dripping Springs Songwriters Festival, held each year on the third weekend of October in Dripping Springs, TX.
To serve as a base of bearings, Jim’s music can been described as a mixture of Tom Petty, Paul Simon, Glen Phillips, Steve Earle and The Wallflowers. He carefully balances the narrow beams between Rock, Pop, Americana, Country and Folk with the agility of an acrobat. Jim’s strict effort to maintain lyrical integrity and musical originality is the divine thread that weaves through the fabric of each of his songs. These efforts are what distinguish Jim Halfpenny’s music and make it instantly identifiable. He believes that well- crafted songs, focus and determination are the keys to a songwriter’s success. “An old farm foreman once told me,” Jim relates, “ it takes more than just sun, water and hard work to make a living out of farming. You need to be god-awful stubborn and a little crazy too. Over the years I’ve come to realize that the music business is hell of a lot like farming.”
Jim continues to cultivate his music and works to grow and raise a faithful following with live performances, both with the Jim Halfpenny Band and as a solo artist. Jim is currently producing his third album, which is projected for a late 2019 release.