After another jam-packed year of gigs and following rapturous receptions with main stage shows at numerous UK festivals, including Glastonbury, the band – John on guitar and vocals, Toby Murray on drums and Justin Kool on bass – are back in the studio, laying down tracks for the follow-up to the critically-acclaimed 2014 album, Saltwater.
The new album is a big, loud dirty affair. The band have once again enlisted producer Alex Beitzke (Jamiroquai, Florence and The Machine, Nigel Kennedy) and are currently laying down tracks at Dean Street Studios in London and Clifthouse Studios in Bristol. After a great year on the road, in the studio and in each other’s pockets, the band have refined their sound and this record represents a musical evolution, with John citing a melting pot of influences from Jack White and The Black Keys to Queens of the Stone Age, Black Sabbath, Hendrix, Zappa, Iggy Pop, Captain Beefheart and Led Zeppelin. Alongside the heavy electric guitar riffs, face-melting solos and unmistakeable growling vocals we have to come expect from John Fairhurst, this album is an outspoken expression of his view on the world and our position in it, and is due for release in late 2016.
Not satisfied with putting together just one full length album, 2016 will also see John’s first solo release since Joys of Spring back in 2008. This largely instrumental project encapsulates almost a decade of this wandering troubadour’s experiences and will feature some very special guests. It’s a personal memoir of the people, places and sounds that have influenced John. A masterful musician and songwriter, John is recognised as the most creative guitarist on the circuit. Drawing inspiration from fingerpicking maestros John Fahey, Bert Jansch and Leo Kottke, blues guitarists Robert Johnson, Bukka White and Mississippi Fred McDowell, African guitarist Ali Farka Touré, Moroccan Gnaoua music, Indian sarod and sitar masters K. Sridhar and Ravi Shankar and more recently Christopher Paul Stelling and John Butler, John references a diverse collection of world genres, blending eastern melodies with jaw-dropping guitar dexterity. These songs, often played live as part of John’s solo set, are a lesson in the art of fingerpicking blues and acoustic folk.
The third piece of hugely exciting news is the launch of Unmanageable Records. After years in the shark pool that is the music business and keen to do things on his own terms, John has enlisted a crack team of fascinating and talented individuals, each with vast experience in their own particular fields of expertise and founded an independent label. Watch this space and sign up to the mailing list for exclusive news, previews and album launch details!
What a year that was!
Following the successful release of their first full length band album Saltwater in October 2014, the band started off the year at the London Remix Festival, followed by a bunch of shows in London and Bristol. Pete Episcopo was replaced by the big man on bass, Mr. Justin Kool and the band whisked him straight off on tour in Ireland – in at the deep end!
A triumphant festival season saw John and the guys travel the length and breadth of the UK with a relentless schedule of both solo and band shows. Highlights included a hefty 16 shows at Glastonbury, with the band smashing a couple of big slots on the Glade and Hell stages – a dream come true for John in his 20th year at Glasto; playing straight after the Levellers at Beautiful Days; headlining the Blackstairs Blues Festival in Ireland; playing the Synch Summit at Metropolis Studios; and of course the usual stints with the family at Smallworld and The Bimble Inn. A residency at Grillstock also took in all three London, Bristol and Manchester dates. Not to mention over 20 other UK festivals, an autumn tour and a residency at the infamous Magic Garden in Battersea! The year was brought to a close with a headline set at the last night at legendary Zu Studios in Lewes.
Alongside this, John embarked upon some interesting new projects… An ongoing experimental unscripted musical conversation with jazz drummer maestro, Mr. Felix Weldon, an Electro-Blues album (yet to be released) with The Reverend Rockwell and harmonica king Mr. Joe Strouzer, and a soon to be unveiled film music project with Mr. Jon Tye, initially started for the Universal Records synch library, but now continuing on into the wide blue yonder!
2014 was a very exciting year of intensive touring, a very busy summer festival schedule and the release of the long awaited album Saltwater in October.
Saltwater was recorded between Bristol and London, with Nathan Evans engineering the Bristol sessions and Alex Beitzke producing at Dean Street in London. John was accompanied by old faithfuls Joe Strouzer on harp and Toby Murray on drums with the addition of new band member Tim Louden on bass and Emma Divine on backing vocals. The album is a full-on electric blues experience with John’s unique voice and guitar playing refraining to no boundaries. The album was mixed by Alex Beitzke and mastered by Ray Staff (Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, The Clash).
John’s music found its way onto the big screen with two films which appeared at two of the most prestigious Film Festivals in the World; in February The Beat Beneath My Feet directed by John Williams and featuring Luke Perry and Lisa Dillon took part at The Berlin Biennale after receiving very enthusiastic reviews in October 2014 at London’s Raindance Film Festival. The Beat Beneath My Feet features six songs: Obnox Stomp, I’m Coming Home, No Shelter, Hungry Blues, Big Dig and On the Run.
In May a second film, Tomorrow directed by Martha Pinson and produced by no less than Martin Scorsese, premiered at The Cannes Film Festival. Tomorrow stars Stephen Fry, Joss Stone and Sophie Kennedy Clark and will include a cameo by John Fairhurst performing one of his classics, Light My Way. The plot is a poignant one about British soldiers returning from Afghanistan and trying to settle back into life whilst recovering from the conflict’s trauma.
Wigan native Fairhurst has been honing his craft on the road, combining his passions for people and music for years. The result is an awe inspiring wall of sound rooted in his northern blues background with a gritty mournful deep-south attitude and a voice to carry it home. Introduced to sarod master K. Sridhar at the age of 5 when he stayed with his family, John’s music has a distinctly eastern feel, with influences from Sridhar as well from his own travels through Asia. With a bottle-neck style blues referencing the likes of Son House and Bukka White, comparisons to the fingerpicking of John Fahey, a leaning towards the psychedelic 60’s rock of Hendrix and Led Zeppelin and the ever present influence of K. Sridhar and Indian raga, John’s music is a real melting-pot of diverse musical traditions, freely hand picking tunes from the Mississippi to the Ganges. John Fairhurst truly epitomises the modern day wandering blues man. He has gone on to tour the globe and entertain crowds at illustrious festivals such as SXSW and Glastonbury to name but a few. John’s enigmatic stories relayed through intense and original blues are all told using his trademark howling vocals; think Captain Beefheart meets Tom Waits.
John’s wanderlust character, lead him to New York in 2009 where he arrived with only a bag of clothes and his beloved Resonator. He met a fellow blues player and proceeded to arrange and perform 14 sell out shows in a 15 days, a feat demonstrating what a gifted performer John truly is. Bare chested and tattooed (by monks in a Thai temple), when John Fairhurst walks onto a stage you know you are not only about to hear incredible blues, but the tale of one man’s tireless journey leaving a lasting impression wherever he stops. With three independent releases under his belt, he garnered critical acclaim from the offset with The Guardian describing his 2008’s instrumental debut album Joys of Spring as “Truly exquisite”. His following releases; 2010’s John Fairhurst Band and 2012’s Hungry Blues were also hailed in similar manner. Coupled with his tenacious attitude to touring and following several summers of explosive live shows both in the UK and Europe, John Fairhurst truly is the standout guitarist of the moment.