John Louis
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John Louis

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015

Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Established on Jan, 2015
Solo Folk Americana

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"Video Premiere: John Louis “Gone Too Far”"

The latest single from John Louis has the feel of a song by John Prine or Kris Kristofferson, thanks to the beautifully constructed lyrics and his warmly characterful vocals. A real highlight of ‘Gone Too Far’ is the way the voices of Louis and backing singer Siri Undlin move together and lean on one another; they each complement the other perfectly and their combination adds another dimension to an already lovely melody. Along with Undlin, Louis is backed by an outstanding group of players: Jeremy Boettcher’s bass and Shane Leonard’s drums give the song a gentle rhythm while Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter) provides piano and organ. Ben Lester (S. Carey, Bon Iver) delivers impressively dreamy pedal steel and mellotron. The musicians’ collective impact is to create a song that bears repeated plays and soon feels like a familiar favourite.

Louis shared the story behind the song and video with AUK: “The video for ‘Gone Too Far’ was created by talented artists Erik Elstran and Sarah Elstran. Both are gifted, kind, creative souls who do incredible things with video and music. Like many of my songs, ‘Gone Too Far’ came from a combination of observations, stories, and my own experiences. Part of the inspiration was thinking about the things you can’t take with you, and the things that are always with you. I had been playing this song out solo for a while before recording the single, and I love how the recording transformed the song. Producer Shane Leonard did an amazing job, and Siri Undlin’s backing vocals add a new layer of meaning.”

Louis draws us into the song with artfully chosen words and real poetry: “Pack up your beauty // Pack up your inspirations // Secrets and mysteries // Affections and revelations // In a box by the back door // Close enough to grab on your way to the car // When it’s gone too far.” There’s wistful heartache and weariness in Louis’ timeless country-folk and his talents have been recognised by the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Songwriter Showcase and the Kerrville New Folk competition, where he was a finalist in 2019.

We’re delighted to premiere the video for ‘Gone Too Far’, an authentic song for those looking for human stories, real emotion and heart in musical form. - Americana UK


"A Minnesota Harvest"

Minneapolis based songwriter John Louis is releasing two new singles. “Gone Too Far” was released last month and “Shut Down” is due in April. They are packaged on one cd as an A-side/ B-side, an homage to the 45s he grew up listening to.

"Gone Too Far" was recorded with producer Shane Leonard, and features and delivers a Neil Young “Harvest” like aura that is heartfelt, honest, open and real. It drips with Americana and will linger with you for a long time after your first listen.

John’s songs have garnered attention and awards from prestigious songwriting showcases including the Kerrville New Folk competition, Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Songwriter Showcase, and the Great River Folk Fest songwriter contest. “John Louis's songwriting is reminiscent of Kris Kristofferson, John Prine and Townes Van Zandt.” (Radio Heartland, Minnesota Public Radio)

Born in Minneapolis, John was exposed to a variety of songwriting giants from the 60's and 70's on his parents’ turntable. Eventually that led him to the usual list of folk and country icons that shaped his songwriting sensibility. That is quite evident on these two powerful tracks. - Disciples of Sound


"John Louis’ Latest Album Welcomes Listeners In, Gives Them Something to Think About"

Tucked on the corner of 40th and Bryant, among single family homes in the East Harriet neighborhood of Minneapolis, is a cozy music venue called The Warming House. Now two years old, the venue hosts both national and local acts, plus singer/songwriter nights, open mics and musician meetups. It’s where neighbors go to see music sans crowded bars and lousy parking. And it’s where Minneapolis-based Americana/folk singer John Louis chose to record his latest album, Live at The Warming House, Minneapolis, MN.

Louis, whose sound brings to mind John Prine, Patty Griffin, Kris Kristofferson and Lucinda Williams, found inspiration for his latest album from Townes Van Zandt’s The Old Quarter, Houston, Texas, which was released in 1977. Louis even mimicked Townes Van Zandt’s album cover (see here).

“I love the songs of Townes Van Zandt, and I listen incessantly to his live record ‘Live at The Old Quarter, Houston, Texas’,” said Louis. “I love how that album captured a snapshot of Townes doing what he loves, in his natural element.”

Louis recorded on a snowy Minnesota day in November of 2017, and released the album in April, 2018. The album includes 11 new songs, plus two live takes of songs from his 2015 release, Drift. It’s part familiar Louis, part new. It’s an album on love and loss, perspective on change, relationships and longing.

“The songs were inspired by my life, friends’ lives, my pondering, ups, downs, and observations of the past couple of years,” said Louis. “Some songs are about recent events, some about things that happened 20 years ago, and some about things I heard about or know about from lives I intersect with.”

Louis said he saw no better place than The Warming House to record the live album.

“I’ve always considered The Warming House to be a sister-venue to The Old Quarter of the 70s, even though I never saw The Old Quarter,” said Louis. “So when I started thinking of options for recording my latest songs, it didn’t take long for the idea of doing a live record from The Warming House to take a hold of me.”

Louis is a storyteller by nature, and his album asks an ear of its listeners. Live at The Warming House, Minneapolis, Minnesota is both gentle and intense. It welcomes listeners in, and gives them something to think about. And it seems Louis made a good choice for the live recording location. Recorded with just two mics and a live audience of approximately 45 people, the album is crisp and clear, with audience interaction and quick jokes interwoven between the 13 tracks.

With tracks “Ground” and “Head North”, fans of Louis’ will find comfort in his latest work. But with some of his songs, “Gone Too Far” and “Shut Down”, Louis shows us a new side. One that’s deeper, more raw and reflective.

“Sometimes I think I know what I’m writing about, and only after playing it for others do I realize it was about something completely different,” said Louis. “Songs are kind of mysterious that way.”

What’s next for Louis? A tour, for one, but maybe – another album. And not too far down the road.

“I’m working on putting together the next tour,” said Louis. “And I’m always writing, so another record relatively soon would not be surprising. But we’ll see.” - No Depression


"Song Premiere: John Louis “Gone Too Far”"

Americana Highways brings you this premiere of John Louis’ song “Gone Too Far,” due to be released on February 26th.

“Gone Too Far” was produced, recorded and mixed by Shane Leonard at The Bungaleau in Eau Claire, WI (piano and organ recorded by Sam Kassirer at Great North Sound Society in Parsonsfield, ME) and mastered by Pete Lyman at Infrasonic Sound in Nashville, TN.

Personnel on the track are John Louis on vocals and acoustic guitar; Jeremy Boettcher on bass; Ben Lester on pedal steel and mellotron; Sam Kassirer on piano and organ; Siri Undlin on background vocals; and Shane Leonard on drums and acoustic guitar.

This is a storyteller’s song, with raw harmonies and a tender expression. John Louis is one of those songwriters who automatically plants your heart in your throat — the ultimate goal for fans of Americana music.

I write songs about people and their stories. Sometimes people I know, sometimes people from a movie or book or podcast, sometimes strangers in the next booth at the bar or cafe. I work to put some truth in every song, even if they’re fiction. Truth doesn’t mean nonfiction. And the unavoidable reality is, since I’m the one writing them, they’re always about me to some degree.

I get a lot of comments about the imagery and lines in “Gone Too Far.” This song contains a line that is probably the best line I’ve ever written. So far. I had been playing this song out solo for a while before recording it, and I love the new life that the production and musicians brought to this one. Still raw and reflective, but also shimmery and soft.

I chose to record with Shane Leonard as producer on these songs because I love the work he did with Anna Tivel, among others. Shane and I spent a long time talking about the songs before we recorded a note. We recorded in the time of peak COVID, so I didn’t get the pleasure of being in the same room with everyone. It was just Shane and me for the initial guitar and vocal tracks, and then he brought folks in to add their parts. The piano and organ parts on Gone Too Far were actually recorded from about 1,400 miles away, by Sam Kassirer in his studio in Maine. Thanks to Shane’s vision and process, it all came together in an intuitive and collaborative way. Siri’s vocal parts are more than just back-up, and they add a layer of meaning to the song that wasn’t there when I’d sing it on my own. - Americana Highways


"SONG PREMIERE: John Louis Delivers Insightfully Incisive Songwriting Chops Via “Shut Down”"

Born in Minneapolis, John Louis grew up on a farm outside the city where he nurtured his introverted side meandering through the woods, wetlands, and pastures, alone with his thoughts and observations and perhaps a dog or two. At home, he was exposed to healthy doses of songwriting giants from the 60s and 70s on his parents’ turntable. Eventually, that solid base led him to the usual list of folk and country icons who shaped his songwriting sensibility. For years now a committed city dweller, John retains a watchful eye and ear attuned to a good story, a poetic line, and an occasional nugget of truth.

In early 2021 Louis is releasing two singles — “Gone Too Far” and “Shut Down” — recorded in COVID19-isolation with producer Shane Leonard. Along with Leonard, musicians on the singles include Sam Kassirer, Ben Lester, Jeremy Boettcher, and Siri Undlin. While these songs may be familiar favorites to some who have caught John’s recent live shows or live recording, the contributions of this group of outstanding, intuitive musicians and full studio treatment transform “Gone Too Far” and “Shut Down” in a surprising manner, casting them in a captivating new light.

Glide is thrilled to premiere the insightfully incisive “Shut Down,” a showcase for Louis’ warm vibrato that is reminiscent of both Lambchop and Cass McCombs. When the twang is served on the underbelly of the song, Americana is served at its most emotive, and Louis adheres exquisitely.

“I write songs about people and their stories. Sometimes people I know, sometimes characters in a movie, book or podcast, sometimes strangers in the next booth at a bar or cafe. I chose to record with Shane Leonard as producer on these songs because I love the work he did with Anna Tivel, among others. Shane and I spent a long time talking about the songs before we recorded a note. When I wrote Shut Down I thought it crossed a few lines. I put it on the list of songs that I likely wouldn’t play out in public. But when I did play it for some confidants at late night writers sessions, their reactions changed my mind,” says Louis. - Glide Magazine


Discography

  • Singles: Gone Too Far & Shut Down (2021)
  • Live at The Warming House, Minneapolis, Minnesota (2018) 
  • Drift (2015)

Photos

Bio

John Louis crafts heartworn country folk songs. Born of a blend of observation, experience, introspection and empathy, John’s songs have garnered attention and awards from prestigious songwriting showcases including the Kerrville New Folk competition, Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Songwriter Showcase, and the Great River Folk Fest songwriter contest. 

“John Louis is a good man writing great music up in Minneapolis.” Jon Dee Graham 

Born in Minneapolis, John Louis grew up on a farm outside the city where he nurtured his introverted side meandering through the woods, wetlands and pastures, alone with his thoughts and observations and perhaps a dog or two. At home he was exposed to healthy doses of songwriting giants from the 60s and 70s on his parents’ turntable. Eventually that solid base led him to the usual list of folk and country icons who shaped his songwriting sensibility. For years now a committed city dweller, John retains a watchful eye and ear attuned to a good story, a poetic line, and an occasional nugget of truth. 

“John Louis's songwriting is reminiscent of Kris Kristofferson, John Prine and Townes Van Zandt.” Radio Heartland, Minnesota Public Radio  

In early 2021 John released two singles — “Gone Too Far” and “Shut Down” — recorded in COVID19-isolation with producer Shane Leonard. Along with Shane, musicians on the singles include Sam Kassirer, Ben Lester, Jeremy Boettcher, and Siri Undlin. While these songs may be familiar favorites to some who have caught John’s recent live shows or live recording, the contributions of this group of outstanding, intuitive musicians and full studio treatment transform “Gone Too Far” and “Shut Down” in a surprising manner, casting them in a captivating new light. 

“I love the songs that John Louis writes. LOVE!” Sarah Morris 

John Louis is continually writing songs and making music. He is looking forward to releasing a full-length record in the near future. And touring again after doing so is a reasonable thing to do in a post-COVID19 world. But you can listen now. 

“Rootsy singer/songwriter John Louis [is] equal parts John Prine and Robert Earl Keen . . . .” - Minneapolis StarTribune 

 

 

More quotes . . .  

“. . . brings to mind John Prine, Patty Griffin, Kris Kristofferson and Lucinda Williams . . . . Louis is a storyteller by nature, and his album asks an ear of its listeners. Live at The Warming House, Minneapolis, Minnesota is both gentle and intense. It welcomes listeners in, and gives them something to think about. ” No Depression 

“John Louis . . . is a great singer/songwriter.  His “Shut Down” song is damn near perfect.” Brad Raley 

"A terrific live album!" The Sundilla Radio Hour (commenting on 2018 release "Live at The Warming House, Minneapolis, Minnesota")  

“Love it!” Jonathan Byrd (on 2015 release “Drift”) 

“John Louis is an amazing songwriter.” Jon Dee Graham

Band Members