"A mix of Neil Young and Bob Dylan, and for me there may be Eagles in a pinch. Country and Folk are mixed together with beautiful poetic texts and these are from the pen of John himself…you should go into a club where there is respect for songwriters like him or by the fireplace with a glass of wine." - Rootsville (Belguim)
Vagabond, Nelson's 2012 release, takes you on a musical journey, part travelogue with stories from Oklahoma, New Mexico, and the Carolinas, part love song, and part wistful remembrance.
The follow up to "Tengo Ranchito", Vagabond continues the thread with infectious grooves, tasteful arrangements and pristine production. Containing 13 self-penned originals, it carves out musical territory from the folk-grass inspired "My Sweet Love" to the swampy "Waiting For The Weekend". "Medicine Creek", recounting the treaty signing of 1854 with Native tribes received a Woodyfest songwriting competition honor. "Oklahoma Saturday Night" paints the
picture of a dance in Americas' heartland with twin fiddles and sweet harmonies. "There's No Right Way To Do Me Wrong" lays down a blues swagger with honky-tonk piano and an Epiphone Zephyr cranked through a Fender Vibrolux. Character driven narratives like "Jezebel" relate another time and place in an old mill town and "By The Light" portrays a gentle remembrance, complete with a lilting string trio.
Musicians contributing their considerable talents to Vagabond include "International Steel Guitar Hall Of Fame Inductee" Doug Jernigan (Johnny Paycheck, Vassar Clements) fiddle ace Barbara Lamb (Asleep At The Wheel, Sweethearts Of The Rodeo), blues fiddler Jon Parry (Danny Barnes, Hank Williams Jr.) singing partner Jane Milford, Tammy Frost, Chris Leighton, Murl Sanders and the Grammy nominated Native American Flute player Gentle Thunder.
Nelson picked up his first guitar at 14 and has been playing in solo and group settings ever since. In 1971 he began his apprenticeship at major Los Angeles recording studios and went on to found his own studio in 1978. Along the way he worked a number of blue collar jobs, among them a lumber mill, steel fabrication plant, the county hospital and Post Office.
Founding a commercial studio led to many acclaimed recordings including the Grammy nominated "ODU" for Nigerian superstar King Sunny Ade, sessions for The Posies, Soundgarden, Robert Cray, Dave Frishberg, Bob Dorough, Brian Bowers and hundreds of other artists.
Nelson has continued writing, performing and recording, releasing his first solo album, 2003's "Soliloquy", inspired by weekly visits to Seattle Children's Hospital. These experiences echo the transformational power of music. The Seattle Times observed “Guitarist’s soulful music soothes ailing children, for Seattle musician John Nelson, life really does inspire art.”
Victory Music in it's review noted: "This is one of the most gratifying solo guitar sets in some time - sweet, surprisingly simple, touching - a great companion to nearly any of your daily (or nightly) activities and a delicious listen like letting your eyes dwell on a campfire or waterfall. The word that keeps coming to mind is "care". You are likely to care deeply for this set."
"Coast Bound Train", a collaboration with Max Schwennsen was released in 2005 and "Tengo Ranchito" followed in 2008, featuring a guest appearance by Alice Stuart. In it's review Miles Of Music stated: "John Nelson delivers each song with a calm, almost moist vocal that draws a little from Paul Simon, an accent-less Graham Nash, and a gentle Neil Young. His voice is elegantly calming as it and the harmonies melt into the disciplined guitar picking and tender band. It all feels so effortless, as it floats out of Nelson and his band. Tengo Ranchito, Nelson's 2007 release succeeds in gently, beautifully squeezing out your breath." It garnered "Essential Americana Records 2008" honors (Barbed Wire Productions).
“Vagabond”, released in 2012, has received airplay on all 13 self-penned originals. Americana UK awarded the album a 9 out of 10 reviewers score. French DJ Mike Penard noted: "It has been such a pleasure to listen to these new songs…the richness of the sounds, of the words, the sensitiveness of your voice brings the spirit of the listener who lets himself into the beauty of your album…all is made with taste, with sensitiveness…it is the beautiful work of a music craftsman, far from stereotypes and already hundred of times traveled roads."
John can be found performing at wineries, brewpubs and folk festivals as well as producing other artists in the studio.