John Francis

John Francis

 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
BandRockSinger/Songwriter

John Francis' "The Better Angels" will be released on Dualtone Records on Nov. 9, 2010. The album, produced by John Carter Cash and recorded in his family's Cash Cabin, plumbs the "heart of the heartland" with themes of love and Americana. Francis is the 2006 recipient of ASCAP's Sammy Cahn award.

Biography

Drawing on the deep well of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Folk, and Country John Francis conjures the spirits of his eloquent brand of songwriting. His live shows range in dynamics from pin-drop intimacy to all the spitfire of a raucous, chicken-wire barroom and a big-tent revival all rolled up in one.

John Francis has just finished his 2nd full-length record, "The Better Angels”, produced by John Carter Cash in the Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, TN. There, Johnny and June recorded much of their last several masterpieces. John Carter Cash has produced material for Loretta Lynn, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, George Jones, John Prine, Emmylou Harris, Roseanne Cash, June Carter Cash, and worked alongside Rick Rubin as associate producer of his father's "American Recordings". John Carter Cash pulled together some the best players Nashville (and the world) has to offer, including Kenny Vaughan (longtime Lucinda Williams and Marty Stuart guitarist), Ken Coomer (original Uncle Tupelo and Wilco drummer) and Robby Turner (pedal steel player for the Highwaymen and the Dixie Chicks). Rachael Yamagata is also featured on vocals.

"The Better Angels" spans the landscape of the human heart and the heart of America. Much like the title, taken from a line of Lincoln’s inaugural speech, these songs are rooted in rich American soil. The characters and themes are fiction and nonfiction, lovers and the lovesick, rebels and wanderers, patriots and fallen soldiers, saints and drunkards, the beautiful and the broken: but each profoundly real and human. Plumbing the ‘heart of the heartland’, Francis keeps the folk/country tradition of storytelling alive, but charges it with a new bolt of lightning. It’s the kind of lightning that strikes so rarely in this cookie-cutter, “guy with guitar” era. Potent and prophetic, the songs on “The Better Angels”...like Francis’ otherworldly voice... simply can not be denied.

Raised in a Pennsylvania farming town, Francis started to show his musical gifts at an early age. The gospel and folk music of his upbringing happened on Sunday mornings in the choir and at home gathered around the family piano. The son of musicians and ministers, Francis grew up playing music with his parents in that little country church. As a young child, he was entranced by his father's Elvis 45’s and his mother's Neil Young, Dylan, and Johnny Cash. John Francis would croon along as if his soul depended on it, and he still sings that way.

At 12, Francis started writing, recording, and performing. At 18, he enrolled as a literature and world religions major at Messiah College near Harrisburg, PA. During these years, Francis traveled extensively in Ireland, China, American Indian reservations, and the deep South of the U.S. to experience and study firsthand the poetry, music, and folklore in each corner of the world. He immersed himself in the classics of poetry and prose, honing his craft as a songwriter. It is easy to see Francis' literary background in his songs. Francis has played in dive bars and cathedrals, street corners and capital buildings, prisons and rodeos, back porches, barn dances, balconies, ballparks, arenas, theaters and smoky sawdust taverns. He played upon invitation for the United Nations Summit for the Eradication of Extreme Poverty.

Keeping a rigorous touring schedule, Francis has played over 200 dates every year for the last few years, clocking over 150,000 miles in the last 2 ½ alone. Francis has played in listening rooms all over the U.S., Ireland, the UK, Germany and Switzerland.

In October of 2005, Francis independently released the critically acclaimed "Strong Wine & Spirits" whose single, "Heavy, Heavy Love" garnered extensive radio play in the North East. Early in 2006, the song was in the top ten most played on Philadelphia's WXPN where it stayed for three months. The regional success of 'Strong Wine...' paved the way for Francis' feature story on ABC News and a feature performance on XM's 'Live from the Loft' in New York City. This led to several sold out shows at well-known venues including the Tin Angel, and World Café Live.

Francis was honored by ASCAP as recipient of the prestigious Sammy Cahn Lyricist of the Year Award. Previous winners include John Mayer, Josh Ritter, and Lori McKenna.

Distributed by Dualtone Records, the Better Angels takes flight on November 9.

Discography

The Philadelphia EP - August 2004
produced, mixed and mastered by Phil Nicolo, Studio 4
all songs available on Itunes, Rhapsody, Napster, and most download stores.
Featured on WXPN, Philadelphia, 88.5 in '04 - '05

Strong Wine & Spirits - October 2005
produced by Devin Greenwood
additional editing by Shelly Yakus
released locally, independently
heavy rotation on WXPN (Philadelphia),
mild rotation on WSTW (Delaware's Top 40),
Amherst College Radio, WYEP (Pittsburgh)

The Better Angels - November 9, 2010
produced by John Carter Cash
released on Dualtone Records

Set List

A John Francis, headlining set can range from 45 minutes to 2 1/2 hours. Many dates with the band, many solo acoustic, and many as a duo with bandmate, Ross Bellenoit.

A typical set could include the following, and many other songs:
'Til My Train
People on the Edge of the World
The Other Way
Let it Rain
Johnny Cash is Dead
Heavy, Heavy Love
War Resister Blues
Dear Ophelia
Love In the Fall-Out Shelter
Philadelphia (You Hit My Head Like a Bottle of Red Wine)
Wild Bleeding Heart
Until the Angels Come
Ventriloquist Waltz
The Beautiful One
Fortunate Son (by John Fogerty)
World Catch Fire
Mercy For Cities
Trouble in These Times
Wildfire Eyes
Turn Up Your Radio