Biography
I'm a singer/songwriter/guitar player living in Alexis Illinois. What follows is a brief bio of me, if you're interested.
My father was in the Air Force, which explains why I was born in Tripoli, Libya in 1957. We traveled extensively, living in California, Okinawa, Virginia and Colorado before his death in 1967. After that, my mother and I returned to her home town, Alexis, Illinois (population 900).

It was quite a culture shock for me - I had never been in a small town before and had no idea that there was a place in the world where literally everyone would know my name, who my parents were, and where I was from, as soon as I arrived at school on the first day. It took awhile, but I soon felt at home for the first time in my life and I loved the countryside right from the very start. When I first started getting serious about singing and playing the guitar in the early 80's, I wanted to try to put some of these feeling into songs. I finally had some success writing in 1998 and put three of them on my one, and only, CD. The rest of the songs are "covers" of old blues tunes, a Carter Family song and one, (Please Don't Talk About Me) that I must admit, I don't really know how to categorize. I've tried to give these songs a little personal treatment - to arrange them a bit differently than I found them, but with some of them, like the John Hurt tunes, that just doesn't seem right, or necessary, or whatever. I also play in a folk trio called Hammer and Pick, with Jon Wagner and Jan Sams. We play mostly "old time" music with a lot of Hammer Dulcimer and claw-hammer banjo.
I began "playing out" in the mid-80’s, but took about 5 years off from it to work on my guitar technique and try to figure out what my niche was. During that time I worked as a movie theatre manager in Galesburg Illinois. I also host a monthly folk concert series at the Carl Sandburg State Historic Site, his birthplace. This concert series is sponsored by the Carl Sandburg Historic Site Association. Without them, it wouldn't be possible.

My musical influences are sort of hard to describe but I'll give it a try. I've always loved the sound of an acoustic guitar and messed around with lots of stuff like Bob Dylan, The Eagles, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils etc, but never got really hooked on it until I heard Doc Watson back in the early 80's. That led me to the blues music of Mississippi John Hurt and Big Bill Broonzy and the folksy/bluegrassy stuff done by Tony Rice and Norman Blake. In about 1990 I went out to New Jersey to a weekend workshop on Country Blues with Stefan Grossman that really helped get me serious about that style. I've also always loved the music of Gordon Lightfoot. My "sound" is pretty simple and completely acoustic.

(Added in April 2008) Lately, I've had some trouble with my hands. I think I've developed focal dystonia. It's had no effect on my flatpicking, but I can't finger-pick at all anymore. As a result I'm trying to learn to finger-pick left handed! Fun, Fun! Actually it's coming along pretty well. At least I'm slowly making progress instead of just getting worse. So I'm getting started playing again after another break of about a year. Things seem to be looking up!

John

Photo by John Heasly