James was awarded First Prize in Guitar in the 1998 Society of American Musicians Competition. In 2005 he performed a solo guitar concert on the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series. In 2000 he was selected to perform on both the Chicago Classical Guitar Society's Local Artist Showcase and the Friends of the Windows Second Saturday Concert Series, on which he was invited to perform again in 2001. In February 2001 he premiered his father John Baur's Etudes for Guitar and Songs of Love for Soprano and Guitar at the Imagine Festival in Memphis, Tennessee, and has performed with Ensemble No Amnesia and Northwestern University's Contemporary Music Ensemble in Chicago. In 2003 he gave world premiere performances for Chicago composers Bjorn Berkhout and Robert Mcdonald.
James played the electric guitar in Virgil Moorefield's premiere performance of his ensemble work, Things You Must Do to Get Into Heaven, in November 2003. In March 2004 he performed, fa/sil, by Bjorn Berkhout at the New Music Festival at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. In April 2005, he was invited to give a solo performance for the Dame Myra Hess Memorial Concert Series in the Chicago Cultural Center. Since 2007, he has given Chicago premieres of pieces by Israeli composer Ari Shapira, Chicagoan Seth Boustead, and Finnish composer, Tomi Raisanen. He is a member of the Avanti duo, a flute and guitar duo with flutist Kim Sopata, and the Maverick Ensemble, directed by Chicago Composer and 'cellist William Jason Raynovich. His most recent CD is Made of String, an eclectic blend of styles and composers; with another planned for 2011 featuring Chicago-area composers, including Bjorn Berkhout, Alan Cole, Julia Miller, Jesse Langen, Paul Failla, Robert Lombardo, and others.