John Evans Band
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John Evans Band

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"The Loop Music - John Evans Band"

SWING SHIFT With his new CD fetching raves, rocker John Evans is poised for stardom.

Contemplative Houston rock favorite John Evans, 38, has a peculiar Sunday night ritual. He sips Lone Star and tries to figure out where he fits in to the world around him, a boozy, bluesy universe of music, love and liquor. Meanwhile, his fans know exactly where he is--in the red hot center. With his eponymous band, this ten year veteran of honkytonks, road shows and frat parties is on the cusp of taking his show to the next level following rave reviews of this just-dropped CD, Ramblin’ Boy.

Equal parts country, rock and punk, with just the right amount of swing, the John Evans Band sound is catching on with an eclectic fan base with college kids, socialites, cowboys, tattoo artist and lawyers. What brings this wildly diverse crowd together is one thing: the magnetically charismatic Evans.

Named Best Male Vocalist by the Houston Press five years running, Evans has become rockabilly royalty. But, with his songs about heartbreak and soul-searching, he could be confused for a classic country songwriter. “He’s a total and complete hopeless romantic,” attests society sweetheart Vivian Wise, his girlfriend for two years. And with “green eyes you could get lost in,” according to Wise, Evans has a sexy stage presence that captivates.

The youngest of four with a U.S. Marine for a dad, the young songwriter spent his formative years in the comfortable suburban environs of the Woodlands. Moving to Sagemont in South Houston, Evans prove to be as comfortable on the football field as he was on the guitar, which he’d been playing since the third grade. An outstanding quarterback a J. Frank Dobie High School, he won a scholarship to Lamar University in nearby Beaumont and caught the eye of the now-defunct World League of American Football organization, where the lean Texan of nearly six and a half feet, led the New York/ New Jersey Knights for two years.

While his dreams of becoming and NFL quarterback would go unrealized, the athlete with a songwriter’s soul returned home a dozen years ago and joined forces with guitarist Ronnie Walker to form the Evans Walker group. the two cut an album in the mid-’90s, titled Ride Shotgun. Two years later, Evans struck out on his own, dedicating himself full-time to touring, songwriting and living the good life of a starving artist. Since 2004’s Circling the Drain, Evans has hit the road hard, performing nearly non-stop at his increasingly sold-out shows from coast to coast.

“He has evolved and changed his styles a lot, chasing his own muse and figuring out what works best for him,” says singer-songwriter Hayes Carll of his best friend Evans. “He could take it as far as he wants to, whether it’s MTV, CMT, or underground Rock status. He is the whole package.”

Ramblin across the country in a former prison van purchased at an auction, Evans and his three band mates do a lot of pushups and sit ups to combat the copious amounts of Funyuns consumed on the road. He relishes the rare moments he spends at home in Houston.

So Evans finds himself in an enviable positions of an artist on the rise. Making a name for himself around the country as he has in Houston, the hard working hard rocker is already getting ready for his next CD, writing new chapters of his life from a decidedly sweet vantage point. “I have been able to support myself doing what I love,” he smiles, “so I consider myself extremely lucky.”
- Houston Magazine, May 2006

"John Evans Band: Call it what you want, it's all just rock 'n' roll"

John Evans' eponymous band has all but exhausted description. The popular quartet's music has been labeled everything from thinking man's punk to ska-meets-rockabilly and heavy-metal honky-tonk.

In truth, Evans really doesn't care what his music is called. It's just rock 'n' roll to him.

"I want to write songs, and I want to sing. However it comes across, it comes across," Evans says. "That's pretty much what we're doing. It's progressively gotten heavier, sound-wise, as far as the band goes. Vocally, I try to push myself, but I'm still just a crooner."

Ramblin' Boy, the John Evans Band's latest and most accomplished disc, both satisfies and shatters any previous characterizations. It's a lushly produced, maddeningly catchy collection about lonely travelers, "caviar barflies" and torturous love. Joyous backing vocals and blistering guitar riffs perfectly frame Evans' assured, often electric, vocal delivery.

The Virginia-born, Houston-bred Evans earned acclaim and a loyal following with his more country-centric material. Even 2004's Circling the Drain, for all its punk sheen, was steeped in raucous rockabilly.

Ramblin' Boy presented Evans with the opportunity to mix it up even more. He chose a surprising launching point.

"I think the Beatles' recording techniques are . . . genius," Evans says. "We actually used a mic pre (amp) that's duplicated from the one that they used at Abbey Road (Studios).

"I like the simplicity that they have . . . but it's big and still has a raw element."

Kickoff track Diamonds Gold and Pretty Things, along with the jaunty Tumbling Down, mine Fab Four territory. At the same time, Love Conquers All seems tailor-made for alt-radio airwaves, and fellow Houston musician Hayes Carll's Long Way Home pulses with a pleading pop intensity. There's even a sexy, sweaty, all-but-unrecognizable cover of Freddy Fender's Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.

Credit some of that diversity to Evans' bandmates. The current JEB incarnation has been together about a year and includes guitarist Jake Campbell and drummer Mike Lewis, who favor metal; and bassist Mikey Ferrara, who comes from a "pop-punk background."

"Before I met John, I was working up in Denver as a janitor for a nursing home. It wasn't a hard decision to make, is what I'm trying to say," Campbell says. "I dig what John does. I feel like I can bring . . . something fresh to it."

There has been much cross-country touring to hone the still-evolving sound, but Evans and company don't plan on leaving "the dirty South" anytime soon.

"There's no reason why I can't do what I'm doing based out of Houston," Evans says. "You can put us on tour with any rock band, anywhere, right now, and we can hold our own."

Besides, home is keeping Evans much too busy. He has two daughters and is building a studio. Evans works regularly with some of Houston's best acts, including Glenna Bell and the U-Joints, and he produced a recording of Feliz Navidad with legends Billy Joe Shaver and Flaco Jimenez.

As for his own sound, Evans simply hopes Ramblin' Boy will help fans see a different side of his musical prowess.

"We're getting a new fan base of people. I hope that we still pull some of those people that like my old stuff into the scene. It's not that different. I'm still writing the songs, and I'm still singing the songs. It's just a little heavier and a little more rockin'."
- Houston Chronicle, June 2006

"Review: John Evans Band, Ramblin' Boy"

Just about the worst thing musicians can do is become complacent, rely on the grace of long-time fans, and never progress or push the boundaries of their craft. Thankfully, John Evans continually continues to explore his talents, and his latest album finds the musician turning inward, branching out from his countrified roots, and further testing the waters of rock and pop.

Just as Evans transformed himself on 2005's Circling The Drain -- not exactly turning his back on his rockabilly roots but not riding their coattails either -- his new album is a departure from his earlier work. The rock'n'roll base is still there, with hints of early punk, but Evans' music takes on an even heavier rock edge on "Understanding Jane" and "Long Way Home," both of which will undoubtedly ensure Evans another slew of Houston Press Music Awards nominations (past nods include Best Musician, Best Songwriter, and multiple nods for Best Male Vocalist and Local Musician of the Year). His fierce guitar solos prove that Evans deserves the praise, and both songs rank among his best work.

Other songs, like the love-gone-wrong ballad "Everything's OK" ("I'm standing at the edge of losing you," he sings) could propel the singer into the mainstream. Again, his impressive guitars turn what could be an excellent ballad into a stellar performance. But Evans doesn't completely ignore his past -- fuzzed-out and often wailing guitars mesh with acoustic tinges on "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights," a song more in line with Evans' honky tonk days, yet its distorted vocals and sing-song background vocals gives it a unique, modern edge.

Ramblin' Boy falters a bit on the predictable and familiar "Whiskey Tango," which at its core is a wannabe 80's cover (and should probably be left as such). Similarly, "Love Conquers All"'s ska-meets-rockabilly sounds out of place among the album's more straight-ahead rock feel. Thankfully, these weaknesses are easily glossed over -- at heart, Evans has always been a storyteller and "Girl" and "5 Seconds At A Time" easily redeem Ramblin' Boy's minor shortcomings. On the latter, Evans sings: "Pretty girl behind the bar, smiles all night to hide the scars...they're everywhere, they stretch for miles, but no one sees them for her smiles / She daydreams five seconds at a time / Just hopin' she can find a new boy to snap her out of this / To rescue her with just one kiss, to take her to a better place and put a real smile on her face / Somewhere beneath the neon sign she daydreams five seconds at a time." It's this depth of songwriting, coupled with Evans' fierce guitarwork, that makes Ramblin' Boy stand out among other Houston musicians.

If Evans continues to reinvent himself and his music with each new release, who knows what his imagination will bring us. For now, listeners can feel content to just go along for the ride.

- Houston Calling, David Cobb

"Review: John Evans Band - Ramblin' Boy"

Whether he’s writing oddball love songs with drinking buddy Hayes Carll or fronting his own high-energy rockabilly band, Houston’s John Evans has never been exactly predictable.

We can picture the former football player cutting back against the grain during a broken play and deciding that, no matter what else, he was going to create a different sound than on his previous high-octane CD, Circling the Drain.

This time, on Ramblin’ Boy, Evans emerges wearing a tight button-down suit and skinny tie, delivering a pop-rock record with wall-of-sound choruses, ear-splitting guitars and splashy, punchy drums. Several songs seem to poke fun at the emo rock scene, such as “Everything’s Okay” where he repeats the title with as much faux angst as possible.

Evans will never give Chris Isaak a run for his money in the vocal department, but he probably doesn’t give a rat’s behind, considering his love song lyrics are usually delivered with an extended middle finger.
- Texas Music Magazine

"Local Rotation: John Evans gets closer to a career-defining album."

It was understood but unspoken. We knew from the way he played, the clothes and the attitude that John Evans was too smart and hip to be part of the group of Texas music yahoos he was identified with a few years back when he was winning all those Houston Press Country and Western Artist of the Year awards, and when he was a favorite of the River Oaks Redneck. Evans played along, but once onstage in the right setting, he always leaned toward something a little heavier, a little more theatrical, a little less dumbass. The shows at Fitzgerald's were always more interesting than the shows at Blanco's and The Firehouse.

Ramblin' Boy, the follow-up to Circling the Drain, finds Evans rocking very hard on everything from a hyper-kinetic do-Freddie Mercury-proud version of Hayes Carll's "Ramblin' Boy" to "Five Seconds at a Time," an edgy, finely drawn ode to a female bartender. Just when we think Evans has forsaken us for Rhett Miller, Queen and Cheap Trick, he lays down a nasty garage version of Freddie Fender's "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights" that may be the most interesting thing that's ever happened to that old chestnut. And cowpunk innovators Jason and the Scorchers couldn't slam Nashville any harder than Evans does when he sings Music Row "fired Johnny Cash but they kept his guitars." Now, I'm not sure if Evans or co- producer Steve Christensen really knew where this thing was going when they got the keys to the room with all the knobs in it, but the scratchy closing song, "Honky Tonks of Old," with its pissed-off Texan line -- "I'm not shootin' pool / in some disco country bar" -- seems to nail exactly what they were after.

With Ramblin' Boy, Evans continues to stretch and experiment. He hasn't made a career-defining album yet, but one senses he's getting close.

- Houston Press

"John Evans Band - It's Only Rock n Roll"


Q. John - your voice has been compared to the likes of Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, etc. What has hearing that meant to you and how has performing under those expectations affected you?

A. It’s always flattering to be compared to singers of that magnitude. My singing style is really a reflection of what I listened to as a child. I’m from the south and I was born in the 60’s. My mama is from the Mississippi Delta and my dad is from the hills of Knoxville, TN. So, Delta Blues and that southern feel is more in my blood than something I try to emulate. Also, the singing style back in those days consisted of more crooners and more simple melody lines. I still gravitate to that vibe today. I think that’s what sets us apart from other bands.

Q. You’ve spent most of your life as a musician but also spent time as a professional football player and pipe fitter. What did that bring to your music?

A. Football made a huge impact in my life. I played college ball at Lamar University in Beaumont TX. It’s a blue collar town filled with chemical plants and hard working people (not to mention one hellava musical history). As a child I wanted to be a QB in the NFL. I had some talent and a big frame for throwing the football. Our program at LU wasn’t the most popular Saturday night option for most people in that town; so unfortunately, they dropped the program immediately after my senior season. That didn’t help my ambitions for the NFL much. I did, soon after that, play two years in the World League of American Football (which is now the NFL Europe). The experience I got as a quarterback has helped me run my band and deal with different personalities in the business. It’s just like anybody else. You have to live pretty hard and fast and have some heartbreak in your life to be able to write worth a damn. I think that's what college football, sweaty plant jobs, marriage and divorce with beautiful babies brings to the equation.

Q. You’ve been the recipient of numerous awards. Which one meant the most to you personally and why?

A. Songwriter of the Year was probably my best compliment. It;s nice to be recognized, but, I try not to get mixed up with awards. Competition and music is for Record Labels. I’d rather worry about writing my next song.

Q. The band has been categorized as Texas Country, Rock-a-billy, Honky Tonk, Punk, Rock, etc. Tell us a little about the musical progression from the Evans Walker duo to the sounds we hear on your newest album Ramblin’ Boy?

A. I think the records have been a progression in my learning curve of recording. My mentality going into the studio really hasn’t changed much. The biggest
curve for any musician is learning how to express ideas in the studio to an engineer. As far as whether my songs are rock or country ot punk or whatever: Songs are just an expression of emotion or attitude when you’re looking in from a songwriter’s perspective. All five of my disks are different musically. My next five will hopefully be in the same direction. To me, the music in the song should match the emotion. That’s where industry comes into play. They need to label the overall sound of a record in order to sell it. Hell, I can understand that. But at the same time, as a writer you have to make a decision of whether you’re in it to write music, or in it to sell records. I want to write songs and think outside of the box. It’s hard to sell that to a label. The right one will understand what I’m doing someday.

Q. Tell us a little about each of the band members’ more personal roles in the band and their personalities ( how the members effect stage presence, life on the road, who’s the prankster of the group, etc).

A. Jake Campbell (Lead Guitar), Mike Ferrara (Bass), and Mikey Lewis (Drums): aka the Band. The boys in the band like to play a lot. Not just instruments either. It’s like a three-ring circus in the JEB wagon all the time. A simple gas stop can turn in to a pyromaniacs wet dream. Between firework wars, downhill skating and cat calls, these haggard boys never have a dull moment. Mikey Lewis is the protector of the three, not to say he’s never bush jumped or off-roaded the JEB van, but he’s always looking out for the group, and he has a knack for snagging stuffed animals from vending machines. Jake Campbell, perhaps the shortest-fused of the alcoholic trio, prefers his people just like his whiskey...straight forward. Jake enjoys anything that burns. Mike Ferrara, is the boy scout of the group. Always riggin’ broken gadgets and concocting new ways to make JEB life easier. Mike’s turn-offs include: merging lanes and selfish people. Mike thinks Mike is great and “loves lamp.” On stage these guys fuel one of the greatest live shows you could ever see. they get along off stage, and their personal chemistry between one another shows in their live performances.

- Summer Worn

- Mavrick Magazine


Biggest Fool In Town - 1998
Out of Control - 2002
Circling The Drain - 2004
Ramblin' Boy - 2006


Feeling a bit camera shy


“It’s just rock and roll.”

That’s what John Evans says when asked about his music. The John Evans band definitely is straight up rock and roll. A Texas mainstay for as long as anyone can remember, Evans has been a constant source for re-invention with each new musical outing he takes.

2006 sees the release of Ramblin’ Boy, an eclectic collection of songs where no two are anything remotely alike. “What might be perceived as a weakness is that we can’t describe what we are doing.” Evans adamantly states.

One who prides himself on his constant ability to express himself and current state of mind through his music, Evans counts a myriad of early influences among those that reflect on Ramblin’ Boy. From The Cars, Queen and early Motley Crue to Adam Ant, The Ramones and Billy Idol, the music behind Ramblin’ Boy is ignorant of any modern influence but the hints of yore can most definitely be felt. Evans also notes “I’m more of a songwriter than a rock band,” and here’s why.

Having grown up in a military family with a strict life regimen, John Evans spent the better part of his days losing himself in an alternative reality called music. It’s was this ability to give himself to the song and to the story that invoked Evans’ path to take the “dreamer’s approach” and try to write about something that’s been written before but with a new perspective.

As a songwriter, John Evans credits the likes of Elvis Costello and Buddy Holly as those he most resonates with. Vocally, his expression has a very “Southern” thing about it where the phrasing and style is effortlessly and similarly based in an old crooner style, akin to that of Elvis Presley. This fine blend of influences has produced one of the most uniquely different and inspiring modern performers of our time.

While each of John Evans' projects have steered farther away from his country roots, there is always a hint to be found in the vocals and in the story but the music, now that’s where the fresh high energy comes bursting in like a big steel locomotive.

Evans calls it “Thinking mans punk” because his songs are high energy rock but lyrically intelligent. And the four major elements of this band must be seen to be believed. Alongside Evans is guitarist Jake Campbell who lists Slash among his great influences and it shows with his arena rock guitar solos constantly taking the crowd by storm. Bassist Mikey Ferrara, a multi-instrumentalist in his own right, earned his chops in the Pop Punk realm on the Warped Tour, and drummer Mike Lewis aka "Razz", is a respected alum of a myriad of metal bands, most notably Helstar.

There is no doubt that this is a rock band but a rock band like no other. The boys have been relentlessly building on their loyal fan base while touring throughout most of 2005 from Nebraska to Arizona to New York. John Evans has won numerous consecutive Houston Press awards with Musician of the Year, Best Male Vocalist (5x) and Best Songwriter among them and consistently commands his loyal state of Texas. With a solid set such as Ramblin’ Boy, there is no doubt that this band will accomplish even greater things in 2006.