Musical styles: One-man-band Blues Blast, Psycho-Hill Country, Punk, Originals
Handmade instruments played: Lowebow, cigar box guitar, stick guitar
As a young boy, John was introduced to boogie-woogie piano. Years later, and after a short stint with the trumpet, he was given a guitar. John was not one who took well to lessons on either piano or trumpet, and had a only a few on guitar. His growth as a musician really took off by jamming with friends. He grew to play in several bands in various clubs and immersed himself into the Fayetteville, AR punk scene, ultimately opening a music store with his wife in that city.
John and his wife later wound up in Memphis, TN where they opened another storefront with music as part of the business. Inspired by a customer who came to his shop, John learned to wind his own magnetic pickups and to build a stick guitar with a wood dowel.
With creative input from a local bluesman John’s stick guitar evolved into the Lowebow which has become an iconic instrument in the handmade musical instrument movement. These double dowel-necked cigar box guitars have been played by touring musicians like Ben Prestage, Lyle Lovett, and The North Mississippi Allstars. Richard Johnston, who helped to steer John towards this creation, won the 17th Annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis with a Lowebow in his hands.
With his unique use of hand and foot percussion blended with his playing on handmade stringed instruments, Beale Street in Memphis has been home to many of John’s busking sessions. He has entertained passersby with his one-man-band musical stylings that range from rough and tumble country to blues, rock, and punk. John is also regularly part of the lineup at some of the best Deep Blues and Cigar Box Guitar festivals, including the Huntsville and Chicago CBG fests.
The community of cigar box guitar builders initially grew around John as he harnessed his “surreal expression”. With his innovation and influence the community continues to grow. You can find two of his vinyl albums for sale here.