love of Country music comes from my father, who grew up in deep East Texas
listening to Hank Williams on the "Louisianna Hayride" radio show.
My own childhood was filled with the sound of my father's favourite artists:
Hank Williams, Marty Robbins, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Roger Miller and others.
I fell in love with the fiddle in 1973 when I heard Johnny Gimble playing on a Bob Wills record. I began fiddling right away, but it took me four years to find the courage to try music as a career. In 1977, after hearing Johnny Paycheck sing "Take This Job and Shove It," I quit my construction job and started singing and fiddling for a living, and I've been doing that ever since.
Even though I studied music formally in college, my real musical education took place in honky tonks and dance halls across Texas, especially the cities of Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. For several years I travelled with Johnny Bush (author of "Whiskey River") as his "front man." Later I worked as a featured singer at Gilley's night-club in Pasadena, Texas.
While at Gilley's I met country music fans from Europe. They seemed much more knowledgeable and appreciative of Country Music than a lot of Americans. I decided that someday I would cross the Atlantic myself and play for these people in their own habitat.
During the mid-eighties I began working in Houston recording studios. That's where I met Clint Black, who hired me to play on his first album. I joined his band in 1987 and toured with him for two years.
After joining Moe Bandy's band 1990 I settled in Branson, Missouri with my wife, Nancy and our son, Ben. I worked both as a featured performer and a sideman for such artists as Moe Bandy, Johnny Lee, Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede, the Branson Gospel Hour, Jennifer Wilson and others.
I finally broke out as a recording artist in 1995. Liz Anderson (author of several hits, including Merle Haggard's "The Lonesome Fugitive" and "From now on all my friends are gonna be Strangers") gave me a song, "Everybody's gotta Run Their Own Railroad". The song became the title cut of my first album, which was very well received in the British Isles.
During the past 7 years, my dream of performing in Europe has come true. I spend about four months per year touring overseas, mostly in Holland and the U.K. I play Country and Western Clubs, Linedance venues, Festivals, and Theatres. Lately, I've also found my way into several European studios, where I play fiddle for other artists.
My second album was "Wayfaring Stranger", recorded while I was still staying in Branson/MO. The project started easy enough: I just called my old friends from Moe Bandy's band into the studio and we went to work. Those sessions produced the opening tracks `Tell Me What I should do`, `Easy Come-Easy Go`, `There's Nothing for Me Here` and `Good Old Country`. I wanted a very different sound for the title cut, so I called in the rhythm section from the Osmond Family (yes the Osmonds, remember Donny and Marie?). They did a fine job on my favourite song on the album `Wayfaring Stranger`. The tracks `Seminole Wind`, `Honky Tonk Blues`, and `Love Thang` were crowd favourites from my live shows. Finally, I included a Country version of Paul Simon's `Slip Sliding Away` and a couple of fine tunes by my brother-in-law, Angus Macdonald: `Good old Country` and `Goodbye to the City`.
I have travelled through the beautiful countries of Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, Holland and Germany. I've also had the pleasure and honor of performing with several well known European artists, including Dez Walters and his band, Glen Mitchell and his band, Daniel O'Donnell, Mick Flavin, John Hogan, Mary Duff and Brian Cole, and lately with the brilliant Memphis Roots! Unfortunately they have now split up and I will continue to tour with the 'Longriders', a popular group up and down the country.
In June 1999 we moved to Austin, Texas. Even though I miss the magic of Branson/MO a lot, its kinda nice to be back home and to be able to see my family regularly. I'm active in the music scene there, and regularly jam with the likes of Dale Watson, whose music I respect very much.
Finally my dream to make an album of the songs my Daddy used to introduce me to, has come true. I recorded it in Austin/TX using some good Austin pickers. Its called "Roots~The Songs My Father Loved". It was a joy to record and it has been received very well.
I am still travelling across the Atlantic a few times a year, spending more time in Holland on the 'Western Experience Shows' at the moment. I have also been invited to play some gigs in Belgium and Germany!
This really is the greatest job anyone could wish for.
|John's Dutch website|