John McGown
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John McGown

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Band Americana Acoustic


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By Kyle Lawson

PARRY SOUND - John McGown grew up with music. From the time he was young, he would watch his mother play the acoustic guitar. But it was the rock and roll his father listened to that made him want to get into music himself.

“I will never forget one night we were listening to my parent’s old records and right at the end of School's Out by Alice Cooper, we blew one of the speakers,” said Mr. McGown, who is now 24.

From that point on, rock became a part of his life. He would spend his nights after school immersing himself in the bands of the 1970s like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, and The Who.

“I always loved music, but the thing that inspired me to start a band was watching The Who Live at the Isle of Wight,” he said. “I did not really understand the impact music could have, or that it could be so loud, until that point.”

Mr. McGown entered into a guitar class at Parry Sound High School, and has not looked back.

Playing in high school

“I started playing music in high school. I started a rock and roll band, but when everybody moved away, I was kind of left on my own,” he said. “I moved on to a folk duo, which lasted for a few years, and then finally struck out on my own about two years ago. I have been playing solo ever since.”

Over the years, Mr. McGown’s tastes have diversified, and that has directly influenced the sound of his new album, John McGown.

“It is rootsy. A bit of country, a bit of rock, just all my influences molded into one. I have been a fan of many bands, and they all have contributed to my sound. Pete Townshend, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, that sort of music,” said Mr. McGown. “More recently, I have concentrated on songwriting. Steve Earle, who I have been listening to a lot over the past year, has been one of the biggest influences as I have concentrated more on lyrics and constructing songs.”


Finally, after years of playing mostly in the Toronto area, Mr. McGown is coming home to headline the biggest venue of his young career.

While he opened up a show at the Stockey Centre last October for Red Umbrella, this show is about John McGown.

“It is something I have wanted to do for awhile now,” he said. “I wanted the opportunity to come back and let the people of Parry Sound have the opportunity to have a listen to the new album. I just think it is always fun to play your hometown, and I think I am ready to play a venue like the Stockey Centre. I have been playing almost exclusively in Toronto the past few years, and it will be nice to come back to where I started, and to let my family and friends hear what I have been doing.”

John McGown, with opener Thomas McGown, can be seen at the Stockey Centre Thursday, June 26, at 8 p.m. - Parry Sound North Star


John McGown - LP released June 2008



Developing an interest in music from a young age, John McGown has taken this deep love and passion to the next degree and has chosen music as his path. Years of listening to and absorbing himself in music urged him to start his own 3-piece rock band while he was still in high school. His interest in songwriting took flight during this time as the band included their own songs in live sets as well as in recordings. His involvement in music grew to playing with additional bands, taking every opportunity to organize shows or participate in local events.
McGown’s musical base and influences matured and grew as he progressed from rock to roots and folk. After moving to Toronto, he took advantage of the many live venues available, playing in downtown pubs, bars and coffee shops, where he had the chance to develop his style, showcase his newest songs, hone his tried and true songs, and pursue his biggest passion: playing live music.
McGown set out on his own and after two years as a solo artist he has established a sound he can call his own. People, life experiences and storytelling come alive in his expressive songwriting, backed by strong yet melodic guitars and gritty harmonica. Armed with a repertoire of his own material, McGown crafted a set of songs that reflect his musical influences as well and personal experiences, resulting in a debut album full of acoustic roots music that could be played easily alongside Blue Rodeo or Steve Earle. While still performing regularly in Toronto at various venues, John is read to take his music further by exploring the rest of the country.