John Hammond

03.09.2013

Biography

With a career that now spans in excess of three decades,  John Hammond is one of handful of white blues musicians who was  on the scene at the beginning of the first blues renaissance of the mid-'60s.  That revival, brought on by renewed interest in folk music around the U.S., brought about career boosts for many of the great classic blues players, including Mississippi John Hurt, Rev. Gary Davis and Skip James.

Some critics have described Hammond as a white Robert Johnson,  and Hammond does justice to classic blues by combining powerful guitar and harmonica playing with expressive vocals and a dignified stage presence. Within the first decade of his career as a performer,  Hammond began crafting a niche for himself that is completely his own:  the solo guitar man, harmonica slung in a rack around his neck,  reinterpreting classic blues songs from the 1930s, '40s and '50s.  Yet, as several of his mid-'90s recordings for the Pointblank label demonstrate, he's also a capable bandleader who plays wonderful electric guitar.

Although he's a multidimensional artist, one thing Hammond has never professed to be is a songwriter.  In the early years of his career, it was more important to him that he bring the art form to a wider audience by performing  classic -- in some cases forgotten -- songs. Now, more than 30 years later, Hammond continues to do this,  touring all over the U.S., Canada and Europe from his base in  northern New Jersey. Anything can happen at a John Hammond concert,  and he selects tunes from his vast repertoire like buckets of water from a well.

Whether it's with a band or by himself, Hammond can do it all.  Seeing him perform live,  one still gets the sense that some of the best is still to come from this  energetic bluesman.