colin john
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colin john

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, United States | INDIE

Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, United States | INDIE
Solo Blues Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Surfing Safari"

His friends aside, Colin John figures that most of the dinner crowd at Fat Fish Blue on a recent Friday night probably aren't here for his band as much as for the crawdads and Corona. With more than a decade of bar gigs -- from southern Ohio to New York to Memphis to London -- under his belt, he's got a strategy in place. The hotshot guitarist and his rhythm section will navigate both the patrons' detachment and the room's bus-depot acoustics with an opening set geared to cut through. He'll grab ears right away with a fleet-fingered instrumental opener. He'll toss out some easygoing blues grooves and make a jam affair out of some Al Green. He's more strongly connected to the Green sound than most players -- but more on that later.
Chopswise, John can hang with virtually any guitarslinger who fits the ever-widening present-day definition of blues. A sampling of his third self-released CD, Live Voodoo Surfing, shows John to be not just a formidable technician, but also an exciting and fiercely inventive player. He sounds as if he absorbed the uninhibited self-expression that Jeff Beck brought to blues.
Besides what's in his fingers, Colin John sports singer-songwriter skills on a par with those of Joe Bonamassa. His roots range is easily a match for that of North Mississippi All-Stars' Luther Dickinson. The All-Stars, in fact, are an outfit to which John's band is frequently compared -- something he doesn't mind.
"I'm a very serious guitar player, who happens to sing and write, hopefully, somewhat original songs," says the 39-year-old John by phone from his Akron home. He's just returned from a listening party and live set at the A&M Roadhouse in New York City, a bash well-attended by media and label folks. "I would call it contemporary blues, rock, and soul."
John's guitar career began when he injured an eardrum in a neighborhood football game, thereby ending his tenure as a trumpeter in his junior-high band. The band director moved him to double bass, and by his junior year, John had completed the transition to guitar. Thanks to some PBS television broadcasts, he encountered "pure" blues players, such as Son Seals and Mighty Joe Young, in addition to the customary guitar idols: Hendrix, Clapton, Page, and Beck. This diet of blues traditionalists and rock greats is evident in much of John's solo work, which is equal parts roots and flash.
"I've never been a straight-ahead blues person or straight-ahead rock and roll. I listen to everything -- jazz, blues, R&B, funk, soul," John says. "I think that instills itself in my playing and in the sound of the band."
After graduating from Ohio University, John turned pro. Answering an ad in The Village Voice, he landed the guitar spot with the N.Y.C.-based Little Mike & the Tornadoes, listed as "Colin Jr. Green" on the band's 1990 debut disc, Heart Attack. While he had to share the spotlight with guest heavyweights, such as Howlin' Wolf guitarist Hubert Sumlin and Ronnie Earl, John represented himself well in his solo spots with some clean journeyman's work.
The stint with Little Mike gave John the chance to mingle with a number of blues notables, including one-time Muddy Waters pianist Pinetop Perkins, who continually referred to the upcoming guitarist as "Collard Greens." Eventually, John and the Tornadoes rhythm section would head off to tour the South as the Root Doctors. Discouraged after a hurricane stranded them in Florida, the threesome went their separate ways. John chose to hook up with friends in Memphis. The timing couldn't have been better.
"I was really lucky," John says. "I just went to B.B. King's [Blues Club] for like one jam, and it turns out that they needed a new band for Saturdays. I was literally there for like two or three days, and I got offered that gig."
Again, the guitarist would be consorting with major roots-music figures -- and not just backing them up. His Memphis band included such celebrated session men as Howard Grimes, on drums, and Mabon "Teenie" Hodges, on rhythm guitar. (Teenie is the one playing those sweet chords on Al Green's hits.) "We played a lot of blues, but a lot of soul as well, because of Teenie and Howard," John recalls. "[Teenie's] the one who really taught me about songwriting and rhythm guitar."
John's own prowess impressed an English promoter, who offered him work. His having a British father made getting a passport and work visa easy, and John headed for the U.K. in 1992 to form the first version of the Colin John Band, which included onetime Clapton drummer Henry Spinetti. Gigs over the next decade brought him through most of Western Europe, working with plenty of new mates and landing periodic guest shots for some of his American friends, including Hodges and Buddy Guy's younger brother, Phil.
Up next for John is landing a recording deal of his own. Family matters drew him back here in 2002, so Northeast Ohio is again his base of operations. These days, with his global contacts established and several labels expressing interest, John no longer sees living in these parts a disadvantage, as he did after college. If anything, this area has become an asset.
"I've noticed this stigma since I've been back," John explains. "People [ask me], 'Why aren't you in New York, if you're such a big shot?' It's like, 'You can't be any good, because you live in Akron.' Well, I've been there, done that. I appreciate livin' in a smaller town. When I need to go creative places, I do."

- Cleveland Scene

"Colin John loves playing the blues"

Colin John loves playing the blues. “It’s really honest music and it speaks from the soul and I think that’s why it connects with people from every walk of life,” the guitarist/singer enthuses.
“I just like the realness of it, and I love playing live because it’s really interactive with the audience. That’s why we’re so jazzed playing on Maui because the crowds are so responsive.”
John and his power trio have impressed many on Maui in the past few years playing island clubs and opening for British blues legend John Mayall at the Castle Theater.
An accomplished, versatile musician, John commands the stage both with his guitar prowess and passionate singing honed from years steeped in Memphis’ rich music community. His infectious, genre-defying style was described by the British music magazine Mojo as “ferociously entertaining funked-up R&B,” and a reviewer in Akron’s Beacon Journal suggested John sounds like “Albert King channeling Steve Vai.”
Born in Cleveland, John spent his youth in Memphis, picking up guitar by accident. “I was playing trumpet in the school band and I punctured my ear drum in a football game,” he explains. “So the band director put me in the concert band playing double bass with a bow, and from there I progressed to electric bass in the jazz band at school and then I switched to guitar.”
At the time, he was soaking up classic Chicago blues and Memphis soul. “I was really into Otis Rush and Buddy Guy and Willy Dixon and Al Green,” he reports.
Blues first hooked him hearing Mighty Joe Young and Son Seals playing a club date with Elvin Bishop. “I think it hits a spot in your soul and you go, ’I really dig that,’ ” he recalls. “I just wanted to get that sound.”
Memphis was a fertile ground for a budding musician.
“It seems like everyone down there plays music,” he says. “Every region has its own little stamp and in Memphis it’s the 4/4 soul groove. Players are more rhythmic orientated than the whole virtuoso type thing.”
Playing lead in the house band on Saturday afternoons at B.B. King’s Beale Street club, John would often back visiting artists from Hank Ballard and James Cotton to Pinetop Perkins and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown.
“And B.B. would come to the club about four times a year and we always got to jam with him, and that was really cool.”
Absorbing all these influences he says, “The main thing I got was be sure to have your own style and identity, use all your influence and distill them and present them in your own voice. I kind of subscribe to what Keith Richards and Chuck Berry have said, there’s really nothing new under the sun, all you can do is take your collective influence and hopefully put your own stamp on it.”
On his albums like “Grooveyard Devils” and “Live from Hell,” John displays an intense guitar style flavored with a strong funk emphasis. “I realized I could play guitar but I wanted to concentrate on the rhythmic aspect,” he notes. “When I was living in Memphis, ’Teenie’ Hodges, who was the guitarist on all Al Green’s records, taught me how to play all those songs and he showed me the importance of how to lay back and know how to play chords really well and get into the groove. That’s when that funk influence started coming out.”
Moving to London in 1993, John spent 10 years in the U.K., playing with some veteran musicians who worked with Eric Clapton. “I immediately met up with one of Eric Clapton’s old drummers, Henry Spinetti (who also played with George Harrison and Paul McCartney), and Dave Bronze, who plays bass on and off with Eric, and we just started playing. We would bring in Garry Brooker from Procol Harum on some gigs. I was thrilled to play with those guys.
“I just like to change up the sound,” he says of his own style of playing. “I like to combine really sweet sounds with really gnarly ones, and make a little guitar orchestra, as it were. People who stick to one thing, in England, they’re called moldy figs. You’ve gotta enjoy everything you like.”
Working with the rhythm section of bassist Steve Calabria and drummer Scott Turner for the last few years, John especially enjoys the freedom a trio provides. “It’s stripped down and you have a lot of space to fill, but also you can let it breathe a lot,” he explains.
“I just like the fact there’s no slacking off with a trio. The more instruments you have, the more you can lie back a little. It makes me focus more on the music and the sound in general.”
John has just released a new album, “Xtreme Live Voodoo Surfing from The Beachland,” that captures the passion of this band live.
“People are always asking for a live CD from the band and we decided to give them this concert on disc,” he says. “The album does capture the raw intensity of the band in a live performance.”
- The Maui News

"Colin John Band with Special Guest Michael Hill"

Those familiar with Colin John’s work will be aware that this generally falls within what might be classified as Blues Rock so it was with interest that I heard news of an “acoustic” CD which was released earlier this year. What a smashing surprise! Not only do we get some great retakes on some standards such as “Eyesight to the Blind”, “Down in Mississippi”, “32-20 Blues” and “Whipping Post”, but we get some Colin John originals as well as a track composed by Colin’s guest on the CD, the very talented Michael Hill of Blues Mob fame. The CD opens with a track credited to M Hodges & C John called “11 Months & 29 Days” and I swear when I first listened I thought it was Kent Duchaine singing. It is a great opener and describes a situation that many who have been through a divorce may have faced. The instrumentation very much sets the tone for the rest of the tracks with Colin John Band regulars Steve Calabria on fretless bass and Scott Turner on drums.
Next up is the aforementioned “Eyesight to the Blind”, a great rollicking track featuring a wonderfully full sound and some great picking. “O.I.L.”, the Michael Hill track which is pinned down by an insistent bass and guitar riff over which some fine picking soars whilst Michael’s lyrics leave little doubt in the listeners minds what he considers is the substance which is behind most of the World’s problems. Protest songs are alive & well! But this one features some damn fine picking as well!
Colin’s own composition, “Son’s House” features the man himself narrating over Colin’s metal-bodied resonator and footstomp and might have been recorded in a juke joint down South. There follows seven & a half minutes of sheer heaven with a great version of the Pop Staples staple “Down In Mississippi” which features Colin on lead vocals and Regal Dobro, Michael on Acoustic slide. This song has such a wonderful feel to it and again you can almost imagine yourself in some smoky dive listening to four superbly talented musicians jamming. That’s the feeling that comes across to me. I love this track.
The title track is a Colin John composed instrumental which has a wonderful soaring feel to it. It is full of gorgeous slide from Colin whilst Michael provides a feeling of space with a twelve string whilst Steve’s fretless bass quietly adds depth. I defy anyone to listen to this track and not to feel uplifted. For me it engenders the same sort of feelings that Tubular Bells did all those years ago only this only lasts just under 4 minutes!
A complete contrast is the up tempo “32-20 Blues”, a rollicking take on Mr Johnson’s song that is a fine rendition. The Allman Brothers’ “Whipping Post” follows and sees Michael taking lead vocals and features some nice organ playing from guest Foley Q as well as Michael & Colin playing in close harmony and unison to great effect. Try stereo headphones for this track and enjoy the guitars meeting slap bang in the middle of your head! The final track has Colin as Mr Announcer on a number called “Your Local Forecast”, by no means the best track on the CD but very enjoyable nonetheless.
So a CD that is quite a departure for Colin but is, in my humble opinion, excellent and a very successful change of style. It is certainly a CD I would be happy to buy and I understand that Colin & Michael are working on a possible tour of the UK & Europe later this year to promote the CD. If that comes off do not miss the opportunity to catch these two very talented musicians and to catch an excellent CD.
- Digital Blues -

"Live at the New Crawdaddy Blues Club"

Any visit to the Crawdaddy by Colin John is always going to be one not to miss but with the added ingredient of Michael Hill then this is a dish which becomes essential. And so it was this particular Thursday evening. A fine opening set from resident band the Heaters who really are well worth catching if you have not seen them for a while, set the stage for the main event. The slight disappointment that Michael & Colin were not going to treat us to any acoustic numbers from their superb 2004 CD, “Acousticland Lady”, was soon dispelled as they launched into their first number, a driving and pulsating version of “Are You Ready For The Blues” which gave Michael the opportunity to dazzle with some fine slide playing whilst Colin used his great FX pedals to stunning effect creating a multitude of different sounds.
The tempo slowed dramatically for a glorious slow & moody blues, “Soul is Doing Time”, which Michael dedicated to the innocent in the audience (I could not see any candidates!). As Michael suggested in his introduction to the next number, the blues is about telling stories and his strong political beliefs were very much on show as he castigated George Dubya for the war in Iraq (Bush comes in for more criticism in Michael’s track “By George” on his most recent release “Black Gold & Goddesses Bold”) The song “Black Gold” which also appears in a very different arrangement as “O.I.L.” on “Acousticland Lady” points to the root cause of the US invasion of Iraq and contains such great lines as “I worry ‘bout ecology/But drive around in an SUV” and “We can fee people near & far/But their freedom won’t start my car”! This arrangement of the song is really funky and again featured some great guitar work from both Michael & Colin.
Next up was a smashing cut from Colin’s most recent release “Voodoo Surfing From the Beachland” a live recording made at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio, Colin’s hometown. The track was “Hoodoo Voodoo”, a funky guitarfest to end all funky guitarfests which also gave us the first solos from Colin’s superb UK rhythm section comprising Chris Page on drums and the on stage menacing Jeff Walker whose bass playing is awesome and is accompanied by grimaces which would put the fear of God up a bunch of haka performing Maoris!
Next up was another driving powerhouse of a song which was prefaced by Michael Hill inviting the audience, particularly the ladies, to free themselves of inhibitions and rip their clothes off! The song, he said, was about satisfying your women and that the men in the audience should listen carefully, a comment met with many a knowing nod from the ladies in the audience! The song, “Undercover” spoke of the joys and pleasures of oral sex and certainly should be one that is included on any CD called “Blues to Seduce your Lady”! Now there’s a compilation it could be fun to put together, especially the research!
Much to our amazement we were heading to the final numbers and were treated to a wonderful number the title of which I did not catch but which started out very sotto voce and turned right down with Colin playing some guitar which I described in my notes as “orgasmic”, (was I still “Undercover”!?) and built superbly, yes, to climax with Jeff playing a three string bass as he managed to snap one! Glorious stuff indeed!
A final encore which again featured great guitar work from Colin & Michael as well as further stunning solos from Chris & Jeff and it was all over. As Johnny H who does the light said to me, “I could have gone on listening to that all night!” and certainly there was an unwillingness ob the part of many of the audience to go home, so unwilling were they to break the spell which Colin, Michael, Chris & Jeff had cast. Thank you guys, hurry back soon and next time give us some acoustic magic too and we will be your slaves for all time!!!
- Digital Blues -

"Hear The Believer's"

"Ferociously Entertaining Funked-Up RnB"
Mojo Magazine

"A Bonafide Triple Threat"
Guitar Player Magazine

"Superb, passionate, uplifting and awe-inspiring"
Phoenix FM

"Great Guitars, great vocals, lyrically stimulating"
South Australian Blues Society

"A delicious noise"
Folk Roots

- Various International Media


Colin John Albums:

New Voodoo Two album , "Haints"out Jan 2010. This is Colin's new roots duo.

New Cd, "Transpacific Blues" out now-a highly regarded combination of acoustic blues and Hawaiian Slack Key guitar. One reviewer called it, "A sonic solo masterpiece"

available at

further info:

"New CD with Cliff Starbuck-"General Delivery" Out Now"

*New acoustic release,"Fresh Folk Blues" with Michael Hill out July 2008*

*Acousticland Lady-National Street Date October 25 2005*

Double Impact

Live In The Spirit

Live From Hell


Grooveyard Devils

Live Voodoo Surfing

With Others:

Michael Hill-Black Gold and Goddesses Bold

Little Mike and the Tornados-Heart Attack

CJ and The Hot Mess Co.-Funky Business

Ric Lee and Ian Ellis-Back Again

Gary Brooker and Friends- Live at Dunsfold

Ben Waters-Shakin' in the Makin'

Henry Gray and Short Fuse-Self Titled

Pinetop Perkins-After Hours

Big Joe Turner-Memphis Blues Caravan

The Hodges Brothers-Perfect Gentlemen

Venus Rising , from, "Evolution", "It Ain't Me" from Grooveyard Devils and "11 Months & 29 Days" from Acousticland Lady are all garnering airplay, both in the USA and Europe, As well as tracks from, "Black Gold and Goddesses Bold"

Colin is available for select touring and recording opportunities as a sideman on lap steel and acoustic and electric guitars.



An accomplished, versatile musician,Colin commands the stage with both his guitar prowess and passionate singing.
Coming from The Big Island of Hawai'i, Colin John,"The Transpacific Bluesman" is internationally regarded and recognized as a unique musician, possessing equal skill on acoustic, resonator and electric guitars. As a slide player,Colin's facility as both lap and bottleneck styles- as well as a formidable fingerpicker- is impressive.
His command and synthesis of genres including blues,soul and Hawaiian was described by the British music magazine Mojo as “Ferociously entertaining funked-up R&B� by Blues Revue as,"Mississippi Meets Maui" and Guitar Player Magazine said,
"This is what Jimi Hendrix might have sounded like if he abandoned the rat race, moved to Hawaii, taken up surfing and let the sun and waves bestow their laid-back highs."
Colin has played extensively in England, the USA, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Canada, Belgium, Denmark and Spain.

To date, Colin has recorded six solo albums, featuring diverse musicians from Al Green's band and Eric Clapton's group. He has guested on albums by Michael Hill, Hubert Sumlin and played alongside many notable American & British blues and roots artists including B.B.King, Pinetop Perkins, Hank Ballard, James Cotton, Phil Guy and Big Jack Johnson,

2015 finds Colin playing select dates as a both a solo acoustic performer, with his electric power trio and with Long Tall Deb.
Colin is currently collaborating with Hawaiian musicians Kalani Souza and Chris Shaeffer for an upcoming national theatre/music production based on ecology issues called, "The Big Blue O".

In addition to live performances, Colin works with the Maui-based Arts Education for Children Group helping children to realize their musical ambitions through learning about the blues and performing.

Colin endorses and is a featured artist at


Norman Fogelsong-Founder Kona Jazz Festival

Alan Richmond, Board of Directors, Monterey Blues

B.B. King, Musician

Mattson Davis, CEO Kona Brewing Company

Bryant Neal, Chairman Arts Education for Children, Maui, Hawaii

Susan Cadgene-Elmore Magazine

Band Members