Gig Seeker Pro


Trempealeau, Wisconsin, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1998 | SELF

Trempealeau, Wisconsin, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 1998
Solo Folk Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Break Me Open CD review"

Sing Out! Fall 2006 Vol. 50 #3

Wisconsin-based singer-songwriter Johnsmith continues deepening and maturing as a songwriter. His songs push forward with a driving force that breaks open barriers to the listener. Perhaps he best expresses his credo in the opening song, “Back to the Mystery.” The song is something of a sequel to some previous songs that explore the miracle of life and experiencing life to the fullest. He includes the requisite number of love songs, but from a fresh perspective, such as “Pothole Season,” which compares a broken heart with the winter-crumbled road that caves to potholes. He also nails love for what it is in “Messy Thing.” “Cold Cold Ground” is a somber, moving song about the passing of his brother, Davey. On a happier note, “Silver Creek” burbles with joy about that special creek of fond memories. Johnsmith dispenses with the “only my songs” singer-songwriter conceit to include songs by Darrell Scott, L.J. Booth, and Alan Bell, all of which are superb additions to the CD. In fact, Booth’s “Box Elder” is a wrenchingly powerful stand-out about the life of a tree. Bell’s “So Here’s to You” makes a most warm, fitting conclusion. On this self-produced CD, Johnsmith surrounds his appealing voice with some excellent accompanists, including Darrell Scott, Byron House, Tim O’Brien and Andrea Zonn. The production never eclipses Johnsmith’s voice or the spirit of the song. Break Me Open is a CD I could and would recommend to anyone without fear of a negative response.

- Sing Out Magazine

"Kickin This Stone CD review"

Review “Kickin This Stone” Dirty Linen magazine #114 oct/nov 04

Johnsmith is a fine acoustic guitar picker and singer from Wisconsin known for his endearing songs and ballads. His fiery licks and finely crafted melodies delight audiences during solo shows. This CD, his sixth, is a 12 song, countrified folk endeavor, and a full radio sound with a half-dozen musicians that differs somewhat from earlier efforts.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that Johnsmith is a wordsmith. He’s an astute observer. Nowhere is that truer than in “Friend of the Coyote,” his half-spoken tribute to the late Dave Carter. “His songs were like a mouthful of blackberries, oozin’ down your chin, full and ripe and sweet as August sin.” Johnsmith gives us a nod to his Irish roots, blending an Irish reel along with whistles, bodhran, concertina, and violin, in “Thomas Francis,” the story of an immigrant who began his life anew after coming to America. His title track uses the image of kicking a stone as a metaphor for life. Other songs, like the pulsating “Drive” and the passionate and tender “Iris Blue,” deal with issues of the heart, the pain of love, and the need for conflict resolution. He sings of the majesty and intertwining of judging people in “Don’t Put Me in a Box,” and his randy Darwinistic needs in “Monkey in Me.”
While I craved a bit more of Johnsmith’s solo guitar work on this CD, I was not disappointed by the production. Co-produced by Lloyd Maines, the CD is punctuated by Maines’ dobro and pedal steel, Darrell Scott on bouzouki and baritone guitar, and Johnsmith’s daughter Elisi on harmony vocals. The CD delivers mostly original songs
(he adds a warm rendition of Greg Brown’s “Early”) that are rich and memorable.
Review by Stephen Ide (Norton MA)
- Dirty Linen Magazine

"Misc Quotes"

Misc quotes
“This CD does not speak to me, it sings! You’re a real ole’ fashioned contemporary folk singer … very refreshing…. A gentle soul with a big vision”
Marilyn Beyer of WUMB Boston

“Johnsmith is one of the most consistent writers of quality song I know” Lydia Hutchinson – Editor Performing Songwriter magazine

“Exceptionally written songs, passionate vocals, and intelligent lyrics.”
Sing Out Magazine

“I feel every time one of Johnsmith’s songs gets heard, a little healing happens in the world” Buddy Mondlock singer-songwriter.

“ When I first heard Johnsmith my attention was captured by his sweet, earthy voice and fine craftsmanship, but what drew me in was his heart. It’s clear that he’s lived the pain in his songs and that his optimism is born of wisdom. That’s a rare thing and a gift to all that hear him.” Tom Kimmel singer-songwriter

“Since winning the New Folk competition, John’s songwriting and performing
skills have become finely honed.... Audiences find his originality and genuineness totally engaging and refreshing” Kerrville Folk Festival

“ Johnsmith is one of those really pure hearted people that isn’t wasting time on the cool factor; he just gets there by virtue of his integrity”

“killer lyrics, great guitar work, and a phenomenal ability to connect with an audience.” Six Strings Music – Columbus Ohio

From Dirty Linen
“Johnsmith posses a clear vision of those things most important in life. He is unpretentious and sincere. His songs have a richness and depth of feeling that stem from a genuine belief in human triumph. His name is common, but Johnsmith is a genuine original”

From Tim O’Brien
"John's plays and sings so well you almost don't notice how good his songs are. It's all there, and he's this nice regular guy you want to hang out with. Watch out, his music will sneak up on you."
- various


The Longing Road 2014

Gravity of Grace CD 2009

Break Me Open CD 2006
Kickin This Stone CD 2004
Traveler CD 2002
To the Four Directions CD 2000
Hole in the Clouds CD 1998



John was born into a rural eastern Iowa, large Irish Catholic family of ten kids. Pursuing a life of music has led him far from his small town roots. He’s shared his music at festival, clubs, and house concerts from coast to coast and abroad. He now resides along the upper Mississippi River in western Wisconsin.

A past winner of many songwriting awards including the Kerrville Folk festival New Folk contest. He has seven solo CDs including his recent ‘the Longing Road'. John has been featured on NPR's New Dimensions radio program.

John teaches annual songwriting workshops at the Esalen Institute near Big Sur CA. And also leads several annual group musical tours to Ireland.

Fellow songwriter Buddy Mondlock best sums it up:" I feel like every time one of Johnsmith’s songs gets heard a little healing happens to the world."

Band Members