“No I’m driving all the way up just to play Lizzie’s and then I’m driving right back, ” joked talented blues man John Nemeth as he discussed his February 13 appearance at the Lizzie Rose Music Room in Tuckerton, NJ; just one of the stops on his current East Coast Tour.
“Yeah, it’s a three week tour and this is the third year that we’ve done a February eastern tour and it’s going great, we love’em, it’s exciting. The fans plan for it so we just make it a yearly thing. This time I’m travelling with my core band the Blue Dreamers; we have Danny Banks on drums and background vocals and he is from Boston, Massachusetts and we have Matthew Wilson who is playing bass and doing background vocals and he’s from Milwaukee, Wisconsin; he knows what cold is like (laughs) and the third guy definitely knows a lot about the cold because he is originally from New Jersey; he’s a super talented young guitar player and his name is Jon Hay.“
Raised in a state known more for spuds than blues music, this boy from Boise, ID was no different from any other teenager coming of age in the ’90’s. Hip-Hop was what the kids were listening to as well as metal and harder rock but Nemeth discovered what would become his vocation or more like direction by an unexpected circumstance.
“Well, I guess I was a young man of very wide and unusual tastes and I was always searching for information,” he started slowly. “I loved music and I loved singing, I would sing all of the time. When I first heard blues it really opened my mind to the possibilities of how you can sing with the ultimate freedom over a standard chord progression and it was so mind-blowing to me. It also offered me the missing link, the missing piece to the puzzle in the American music journey that I was on because out in Idaho you didn’t hear a whole lot of blues; you went to the record store; there was one downtown that had a small cassette section and loaded with some of the greatest albums you could ever buy. I picked up “Little Walter’s Greatest Hits” there and “Howlin’ Wolf Greatest Hits” one and two and “Muddy Water’s Greatest Hits” one and two and my guitar player loaned me Junior Wells “HooDoo Man Blues” and then I made some mix-tapes. Then this girl, man she had the ultimate collection of music; she had so many live records and what brought up the whole discussion of music with her was that I was giving harmonica lessons to her room-mate and her room-mate couldn’t make it home for the lesson. So I was there at the house waiting for her and this girl was playing “Aretha Franklin Live at the Fillmore” and I started asking her about the record because that was kind of unusual for somebody to have that record in Idaho and especially a younger woman too and not somebody who listened to that music in the ’60’s. So she showed me her whole CD collection and man the first page was awesome; John Lee Hooker and Miles Davis and Bob Marley and Aretha Franklin first page. So that was hip and every page after that you could just go on and on, she had all sorts of cool blues artist in there; she had Robert Cray, which was cool, a box of soul music with every Etta James record you could imagine, Otis Redding and people that I had already listened to but that I didn’t have in my collection. So it was really great to go there and listen to all of that stuff and I also listened to records that I hadn’t listened to in a while because my cassettes were worn out. She had CDs; remastered “Led Zeppelin IV” and that was great! She had so many Led Zeppelin records and even some you don’t normally hear a bunch of cuts from like “In Through The Out Door,” that was a great record too.”
Now armed with a new perspective along with the energy and desire to act upon his musical urges, he began gracing local stages with his harmonica and vocal prowess. Soon word spread and members of the blues community began taking notice.
Eventually he began to perform and record with the likes of Junior Watson and Anson Funderburgh; shortly thereafter he was signed by Blind Pig Records and a year later laid down vocal tracks on Elvin Bishop‘s Grammy nominated release, “The Blues Rolls On.”
Nominated for and victorious himself for more than 14 blues awards from various organizations, Nemeth loves his band line-up, to work either on the road in the studio or both and even as this current tour heats up is adding to his catalog and hardware collection.
“We just cut a record in December and I’m guessing it will probably be out late Summer or early Fall with this same band,” he said with enthusiasm; “The chemistry of this band is just super hot and hoppin’ and I love it. So yeah, I’m bringing the small combo out and these guys all sing background vocals and they play all my soul hits in kind of a scaled down version; kind of like Magic Sam the old Chicago blues guitar player. He was kind of like a soul singer who played with a small trio and had a huge sound, so that’s what it’s kind of like. We’re bringing all the blues still and all the soul and rock ‘n’ roll and all my original material from all of my records from the past and maybe a couple from the future.”
Lizzie Rose Music Room is located at 217 Main Street in Tuckerton and show time is listed at 7:30 p.m. with tickets costing $35; so what can one expect when plunking down their cash to see John Nemeth & The Blue Dreamers?
“Well, the route of my music is blues so it’s going to be a high energy show; it’s an electrified blues show. That’s what makes the blues so great, you’re just discussing the shit, you don’t wanna die, you just wanna discuss what’s goin’ down, breakin’ it down; that’s what makes the blues so great. Blues is very empowering music, it has the discussions of all the different feelings that humans feel in life in the material; dealing with hard times, good times and all of that but it’s a positive music that’s always moving forward. Those blues grooves are so great, those grooves gave us everything that made American music awesome and then drifted off to the rest of the world. So we start off with that kind of show, we have a great drummer who is fantastic; he was even on David Letterman when he was a kid too, when he was 11 years old he was on David Letterman playing the blues (laughs). So it’s fantastic comin’ out of the chute like that and we also bring soul tunes and ballads, some rock ‘n’ roll, blues, soul blues and it’s fantastic because we have great soloists in the guitar player and our bass player is super funky and I play the harmonica. This is a lot of fun, one night we’ll play a festival stage on the beach in San Sebastian for 40,000 people and another night in some park in some town and another night a little juke joint and then another night a room like Lizzie Rose Music Room which is a great listening room. We really pride ourselves in the songwriting and the arranging of the parts so it’s a fun listen for everybody.”
To discover more about this artist, please visit www.johnnemeth.com.