Jim is a world-class player of percussion – particularly renowned on the bodhran, a simple Celtic frame drum. He is widely credited with the development of the tuning system used by most modern players as well as with the invention of the brush stick.
Recent performance and recording includes percussion work with Mumford and Sons, Jack Bruce (Cream) and Lau.
He plays percussion to a very high standard he also plays mandolin and cittern. As well as writing the songs, he played electric guitar and percussion with The Lanterns (Columbia Records).
Jim has featured on an eclectic mix of recorded performances and albums including, ‘Later with Jools Holland’; ‘Unplugged’ for MTV; and, ‘No Quarter’, the multi-platinum album with Page and Plant. He played Edinburgh Castle with Van Morrison and The Chieftains and has also performed with Emmylou Harris, The McGarrigles, John Martyn & Cathy Matea on the Transatlantic Sessions TV series and CD. He played percussion on Billy Bragg’s album, ‘The Internationale’, and has preformed live and recorded with The Bundhu Boys.
Jim was invited to collaborate with Aboriginal musicians in Australia to create a performance piece called ‘Celtic Dreaming’, broadcast nationally in Australia.
Jim has featured in the 'house bands' on several leading TV music and arts series including: The Shetland Sessions, Togaidh Sinn Fonn, Tacsi and Talla a’ Bhaile.
For more details, please see credit listing.
'Playing styles have all been affected by the introduction of various internal tuning frame mechanisms. Originally developed by Jim Sutherland, the system now common amongst most makers was perfected by the Glasgow maker David Gormlie, and popularised by Johnny "Ringo" Macdonagh, after David presented him with one of his drums. Kevin Conneff and Tommy Hayes both play Gormlie drums, and nearly every maker uses his system of internal rings tuned with alum key screws held in brassheads. This practice has revolutionized the making and playing of bodhrans.'
'One of the most innovative variations on the basic cipin I've seen was employed by Jim Sutherland of the Scottish folk group Easy Club. Sutherland attached two drum brushes end-to-end to produce a scintillating jazz-like effect on the bodhran-- but this would have to be considered rather avant-garde.'