John is a Canadian roots musician. His songs are acoustic,
with a country/folk feel and often a funny twist or two. Whether
upbeat or reflective, they are grounded in his experiences and
reveal his passion for the people he has met and the land he
loves. Often mixing in the songs of other artists, John performs
with an energy that is contagious. Listeners cannot help but be
moved and entertained.

In a sometimes difficult world, his most recent CD, Somebody
Stole my Canoe, is refreshingly optimistic. In it he tells about
the last frontier cowboy and his 93-year-old father-in-law, who
was still collecting way too much stuff at garage sales. In “Not
from Texas”, with a nod to Lyle Lovett, he challenges
Canadians to be proud of where they live. Behind these
well-crafted songs are mandolin and slide guitar breezes,
harmonica, upright bass and the tasteful drumming of
co-producer Don Kerr (from the Rheostatics and Ron
Sexsmith’s group).

Born in Toronto, John grew up in small town Ontario and
studied Forestry at University of Toronto. While working in
Norway one summer, he broke his leg in a motorcycle
accident. During recovery, he took up guitar. Bitten by the
travel bug, he set off after graduation to see the world. He
was a door-to-door salesman in Vancouver; studied aikido,
Japanese and played guitar in bars in Tokyo; and sold cars
and did hydrographic surveying in Vietnam during the war.
After getting fired for singing protest songs, he hitchhiked
throughout Southeast Asia, worked with the aborigines in
northern Australia, and lived and climbed in the mountains
of New Zealand. Always with guitar on his back, he traveled
overland from India to Europe and after 4 years, back home.

Big changes were taking place in the ‘70s and John thought
he could “change the world” more as a teacher than as a
forester. He lived in the Therafields community in Toronto
where his personal growth and creativity were supported and
his song-writing and performing skills flourished. By day, he
taught young adolescents, while evenings and weekends
were often spent singing and playing in coffee houses and
bars in southern Ontario. In 1983 he co-founded Quest
Alternative School, a small, creative and very popular
program for grade 7 and 8.

He retired from teaching in 1999, to record some of the songs
he’d written over the years. His first CD, No Second Chance, 
has songs about people he’s known – a canoe builder, an
alcoholic, a hooker. He writes about his log cabin in the north
woods, the mountains of B.C. or a lost love. All acoustic, with
some excellent back-up musicians, the tunes range from
gentle folk through breakneck bluegrass, to sleazy bar blues.

John lives with his wife, Julie, in a little house by the Humber
River. She “makes good pies and has a great laugh” and
continues to be a support and inspiration for his music.
Cambodia 1967
Therafields concert 1973
mid ‘70s
early ‘70s
John & Wendy, early '80s
late ‘70s
John & Paul, early '80s
John, Paul, Warren, early '90s
mid ‘90s
Gord & John 2005
John & John M., 2006
 
For downloadable images, contact John
photography Nancy Rahija
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