John Greyhound Maxwell
"The best bottleneck slide player I've heard in years." - David Lindley
High praise indeed from an acknowledged master of the genre. Lindley did not stop there, opening doors for Maxwell that has lead to billings with Lindley, as well as Taj Mahal & Keb' Mo', Albert Cummings, Marcia Ball and Maria Muldaur, who has called John "the finest bluesman I've heard in a long, long time." The Washington Blues Society recently named him the 2018 award recipient for Best Acoustic Blues Guitar.
A listen to his latest CD, Even Good Dogs Get The Blues, instantly reveals that all the accolades are not mere hyperbole. The record showcases his flawless technique on original instrumentals such as "Bella's Romp" and "Salish Sea Slide," as well as his smooth, inviting vocals on "Missed a Good Man" and "Yonder Come the Blues."
With an approach that is authentic and understated, Maxwell plays with the warmth and dexterity of someone who has loved the blues over a lifetime. Indeed, his education began as a teenager after seeing B.B. King play a set in Chicago in 1971. At Chicagos historic Old Town School of Folk Music he took lessons from a young Johnny Long, himself a student of Homesick James. When Maxwell left for college in St. Louis, he originally studied classical, but grew restless and eventually fronted a blues trio. He counts himself lucky enough to have mingled with blues legends Tommy Bankhead and Henry Townsend, with whom he later shared the stage and formed a friendship. Hes been drawn to slide since the beginning. It increases that conversational aspect between the instrument and the voice, he says.
That lineage is evident in the conversations hes still having. In his capable hands, classics are given a deep bow and a quick wink, at once subtle and surprising. Likewise, his originals feel familiar to the genre, at home on a back-roads front porch or a downtown speakeasy.
His style is grounded and focused yet delivered with an ease and a lightness. He says the nice thing about getting older is, Whatever you do, if youve been doing for most of your life, you reach a proficiency level thats really enjoyable. That comfort and skill is obvious whether hes playing with a full band, as a duo, or just his caramel smooth voice and his shiny silver Dobro. One gets the feeling hed be equally at home with a symphony or a jug band.
In fact, hes travelled the country, playing bluegrass in Tulsa and punk-rock in Hollywood, with forays into jazz, folk and rock and roll. No matter the genre, he always found himself coming back to the blues. He explains that his interpretation is not about a specific chord pattern or scale, but rather the emotion behind it. I think that helps cross physical and cultural borders, he says.
Now, having rounded the corner of 60, Maxwell is a master of his craft, garnering the admiration of his contemporaries. His previous recording, Blues for Evangeline, made the top five in the Best Self-Produced CD competition at the 2016 Memphis International Blues Challenge. In 2017, he had a song placed in a film at the Sundance Festival, and he taught at the prestigious Port Townsend Acoustic Blues Festival in Washington state, where he now resides.
Back when I was 16 or 17, I would tell myself I wanted to have a successful music career, and it was okay if it happened at 60, as long as it happened. He laughs softly. I think I set my course there.
Rainshadow Recording Studio (View)
Fort Worden State Park, Bldg 315 West
Port Townsend, WA 98368
|Kid Friendly: Yes!|
|Dog Friendly: No|
|Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!|