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James L. Bianchi, 1949-2015


James L. Bianchi, 1949-2015

James L. Bianchi, Attorney at Law

James L. Bianchi, Esq. is among the first graduating students from the oldest public interest law school in the country, New College of California, School of Law and is best described as a community activist. Over the years he has served on boards and commissions, or founded non-profit corporations, that operate homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, sexual assault programs, drug treatment programs, legal aid offices, and after school programs for elementary school children. During the Vietnam War, he operated the largest draft counseling center west of Chicago that assisted more than 15,000 with obtaining conscientious objector status. He later worked to help returning veterans at Swords to Plowshares in San Francisco. Jim practices law in the town of Benicia, California. He is also a professor at Cherry Hill Seminary where he teaches a course on Pagans and the Law. Jim is the leading Ovate of Taliesin in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was the first President of the Pagan Alliance in the Bay Area, in the core group operating the Spark Collective in Oakland, and on the Council of Phoenix Fire.

Jim is a musician who has performed with Babatunde Olatunji at Big Sur, the famous Puerto Rican drummer, Modesto Cepeda, at La Pena in Berkeley, and Gideon and his Zulu Dancers at the Harmony festival in Santa Rosa. Jim was music director for the staging of Equus at the Ashby Theater in Berkeley, and has opened for Axis Mundi at the Ashkenaz in Berkeley. Jim also served as art director for the Carnival of Venice in San Francisco. He is a member of the Spiral Dance Chorus, and has been a band member of World Fusion groups such as, Tenuka and Mahal. Last year, he performed Samba with the Lloyds of Oakland (who lead the procession at Burning Man), at the Mission Creek Music Festival, and the Amnesia Club in San Francisco. He is trained in 23 instruments and has been the back-up drummer for belly dancers and fire spinners in performance at Burning Man and the annual Pagan Festival in Berkeley.

Jim’s formal training includes the djembe with Babatunde Olotunji; conga and Santeria chanting from a Santeria priestess, Carolyn Brandy; doumbec, zills, tar, and riq from the famous Bay Area master of middle eastern music, Mary Ellen Donald. For 3 years, he studied Puerto Rican Bomba at the La Pena Cultural Center in Berkeley, and with Puerto Rico’s most celebrated Bomba master, Modesto Cepeda. James has received vocal training at the Jazz School in Berkeley, from David Stroud, and Sandy Cressman, and sings in Latin, Lacumbe, Spanish, Portuguese, Zulu, Sanskrit, and Arabic.

Jim is a video artist and was producer of Benicia Video Theatre where he taught video to high school students and showed them in the local cable access channel. His short film, La Masquera, has been screened at Film Arts in San Francisco to great reviews. He has 4 years of training in TV and Video production from Solano College in Fairfield, California. jbianchi@cherryhillseminary.org

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