Ivas John gives Cape the Blues

Friday, March 9, 2012
Ivas John Band

Since first picking up a guitar, Ivas John has dedicated himself to the blues.

As a teen with a newly discovered love for playing music, John wasn't trying to imitate Metallica songs or start grunge bands. Instead, he was learning blues licks he first heard on his father's records. And schooling himself in classic blues from the start is what he says pushed him toward a career playing music.

"The first time I heard the blues, it was a discovery for me," John said. "It motivated me to start playing. I wasn't a musician who branched off into playing the blues, I heard blues music and developed into a musician because that's what I knew I wanted to do."

For the past six years, John has lived his dream, fronting the Ivas John Band -- consisting of Charlie Morrill on drums, Mike Alderfer playing bass and Billy Langley blowing the harmonica -- and cutting four records. With his newest release, "Doin' What's Natural," John says he's attempting to make his mark in a saturated blues market by experimenting with the traditional blues style.

"With so many rock bands in this area, a really good blues show is becoming almost rare," said Eric Karlish, manager of P-Mac Music in Cape Girardeau. "Working in a music store, I hear the people around here talk about their favorites. Ivas is always a big favorite."

John points out that this album is not only pure blues, but a flirtation with bluegrass, folk, country, ragtime, honky-tonk and country. He wants this new album to exemplify the process that sets him and his band apart.

"We started recording some of these songs more than two years ago, so it's satisfying to finally finish it and have the product in hand," John said. "This album is very different from previous releases in how it reflects a range of different styles and musical textures, all in addition to what people would already expect to hear from the band in a live setting."

Karlish is confident "Doin' What's Natural" will sell well.

"Ever since his first release, his CDs are always bought up quickly," Karlish said. "He's one of the local scene's best-sellers consistently."

So just how will listeners know the new album is different from the band's earlier releases? John points to the depth of the songwriting. He notes that some songs are personal, while other songs are pure imagination.

"In the same way an author would write a novel about something he or she thinks would make for an interesting story, I think listeners will appreciate the songwriting for its originality, but also for its simplicity and understandability," John said. "I don't think you have to be overly poetic or abstract to come up with a good song."

Although the Ivas John Band is based in Carbondale, Ill., touring has now become a huge part of the band's plans, branching out to include nearly every major Midwestern city and more than 200 live performances a year. But for now, John, who has played Port Cape Girardeau at least once a month for the past three years, is looking forward to introducing Cape Girardeau audiences to Chicago blues act and Delmark recording artist Rockin' Johnny, the band opening the show.

"Rockin' Johnny and I know each other through a network of blues musicians from the Chicago scene," John said. "They're a band with a strong traditional Chicago blues sound, but they've got their own unique style. They're very well known and respected among music lovers and musicians alike in the Chicago area."

The Ivas John Band's "Doin' What's Natural" release show is at 7 p.m. Sunday at Port Cape. The band will have CDs available for purchase at the show, online at www.ivasjohn.com and at P-Mac Music in Cape Girardeau.

jsamons@semissourian.com

388-3641

Pertinent address:

Port Cape Girardeau

19 N. Water St., Cape Girardeau, MO, 63701

334-0954

P-Mac Music

2500 William Street Cape Girardeau, MO 63703

332-7622

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