John Henry Olthoff
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John Henry Olthoff

Band Country Folk


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"John Henry and the Actual Band! at the Yippie Museum Cafe March 21, 2008"

Review of John Henry and the Actual Band! at the Yippie Museum Cafe

It was a windy March 21st Friday Night in NYC. Shoved
in the back corner of Bleecker St, John Henry Olthoff
and his left-handed guitar performed a solo/band show
at the Yippie Museum Cafe with his Actual Band. His
candor and on-stage presence lacks the youthful angst
and wannabe attitudes of much of today’s music scene.
The honesty in his songs is portrayed though poignant
lyrics and a truthfulness that simultaneously makes
you laugh, think and cry. He brought the ample and
willing audience through a tunnel of personal and
social history, both sublime and surreal. He sang of
experiences of growing up on Long Island and living a
history that is all too familiar to those with the average working class upbringing. His lyrics are a wonderful mix of his opinions on the social woes of the world and yet he still maintains an intelligent yet grounded outlook on life. His country/folk approach lends one to wonder, "What is this guy is doing in NYC?". But once you get past the Western style shirts and shiny white cowboy boots, the music speaks for itself. There are few who can leave an audience
with a feeling that they have just witnessed something
special, and John Henry is one of those performers.

By Chris Danowski

- by Christopher Danowski


My 7-song EP "Buick Skylark" is now available for download on itunes. Just search for "John Henry Olthoff" if you don't believe me!

Several of my songs have been added to Soundclick stations, and my songs have been played on Tornado Valley Radio Online, in Kansas, as well as Country Music 24, a country music station in Germany. I also have some songs in the circulation on Len Amsterdam's internet radio station in Canada. I'm just real happy that people around the world can hear my songs and take a minute to figure out what the heck I'm talking about, if they like.

I'm at,, and my songs are available for download at



I’m a solo acoustic country and folk singer-songwriter currently living in the Jackson Heights area of Queens, NY. By day and by some evenings, I’m a mostly mild-mannered teacher of English as a Second Language, Math, Science, and World History at LaGuardia Community College. Quite often, however, I’ll pull on my cowboy boots, snap on a western shirt, and hop on the 7 Train or the Q32 Bus and go to some bars where I’ll hoot and holler and bang on my guitar for every drunk within earshot to pass out to. I have been playing regularly on Monday nights at The Red Lion on Bleecker St. in Greenwich Village as part of their Monday Acoustic Session. I have also played at Galapagos in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, as part of their songwriter showcase.

In the meantime, several of my songs have managed to get some attention for themselves: “Before We Die Here” and “This Town” have both spent time at #1 on the Country and Country General charts at, and “Buick Skylark” and "Broken Toy" have both been named Finalists in the Folk category of the Song of the Year Contest (

I don’t know if I can give a definitive answer of who my songs sound like—I can’t think of anybody else who puts things like old Buicks, Chinese food, Girl Scout cookies, crystal meth, dirt roads, sulfur water or solar panels in their songs—but if I have to compare the sound to something, I guess it could be something like John Prine or John Hiatt mixed Woody and Arlo Guthrie to old-time Country music and just about everything else.

My boss told me she was playing my CD in her office and a co-worker came in and asked, “Is that James Taylor?” I wouldn’t have chosen that comparison, but I’ll take it.

Like I've said many times, these are country/folk songs, sung tongue-in-cheek, but not so tongue-in-cheek that I can’t get the words out. Lurking just below the surface punch lines, however, is some real commentary about the world as it is today and the world as I’ve seen it through my growing up years, my traveling years, and my coming-into-my-own years.

Thinking about suburban sprawl and how it has changed the landscape of this country led me to write “Before We Die Here;” reflecting on the silly materialism of the working class towns where I grew up gave me the song “Royalty;” looking back on friendships, both maintained and discarded, helped me get “Buick Skylark;” wanting to write a response to the blind loyalty and pride of place that exists in so many country songs today brought me to “This Town;” being so fed up with the power and influence of religion in society gave me “Jesus, Dirt Roads, and Whiskey;” coming to an understanding about my own fractured, dysfunctional upbringing became “Broken Toy;” and so on and so on. Songs come from so many different places, and I just want to be ready to receive them when they come.

My arrangements are, for the most part, simple: a lot of hammering-on and pulling-off and walking-up and walking-down, rarely straying far from familiar chords and keys, all the time letting the narrative unfold and occasionally loop back onto itself, always changed for having taken the journey.

I believe that what makes my songs different is the lyrical content. Humor, usually mixed with a little sadness and longing, sometimes with a little anger and frustration, permeates all of my songs, and if you listen and manage to laugh in the right places, you’ve probably gotten what I was hoping you’d get by listening.

My voice resonates best with a yodel or a twang, is more rough than conventionally smooth, and is exactly how I found it in each song as each song came together.