John Ward



Links

Broad Roots - Broad Roots aims to organise concerts, festivals, workshops and other events that embrace the entire spectrum of folk, roots, acoustic and traditional music across a wide variety of cultures and genres.

Bonds Meadow - Conservation area in Oulton Broad that we help to support.

Eckhart Teachings - Author of the excellent book ‘The Power of Now’, make your own mind up.

Mark Burrell - Wonderful Lowestoft artist, illustrated The Iron Bridge.

The Seagull Theatre - Community based theatre in Lowestoft with a diverse array of arts and entertainment. Please support it.

Dominics Photography - A business, specialising in wedding photography and location based photography at a clients home, business or favourite location. Weddings, portraits and art in a contemporary style but offering the clients what they want. Relax, informal, fun with great customer service and exceptional value for money. 

Ferini - Lovely gallery and performace space close to the beach in Pakefield, Suffolk. Have taken some great photos of John and Mario.

Grapevine - The Grapevine is the most comprehensive FREE what's on guide in East Anglia. The magazine has been in publication since 1990 and is published monthly by Musical Marketing and is available at selected outlets throughout the region.

 

A Music Biography

John Ward turned to folk and acoustic music in the mid 1980s and, by 1988, had become a full-time songwriter and musician on the folk and roots music scene. Since then, he has performed in countless venues all over England as well as overseas. John has guested on numerous radio shows and has appeared on British television a number of times. He has released 7 albums of original material and had a book published, all of which have received critical acclaim from reviewers and gig-goers alike. John’s recordings embrace a wonderful collection of his engaging songs, written in a variety of styles and his latest CD the very newly released 'Sargasso' is no exception. His previous album East of the Sunrise, was a collection of songs inspired by his local area, mainly written by John, with a couple of traditional songs from the region. One of these songs, ‘From Stornoway to Lowestoft’, recently won the songwriting competition at Ryedale folk festival in the North of England.

John has worked with a wide range of musicians over the years and has a highly successful and long-term musical partnership with accomplished violinist, Mario Price. However, John still regularly performs solo, often joined by his wife, Lynne, and also plays in the highly respected Ceilidh Band, SkipHire . In 2013 he began to gather a band round him for the first time for many years. The line up consisting of Stephen Mynott, Les Woodley, Andy Marr and Lynne creates a rich sound full of harmonies that might be described as 'folk rock' but is hard to label due to John's eclectic repetoire and the musical versitlity of the highly talented musicians.

John has been described as an energetic, passionate and spirited performer who successfully combines humour with thought-provoking songs. From his self-taught musical roots, John has earned a reputation as an excellent and versatile guitarist and his explosive bodhran playing has drawn much attention. He is regularly booked to lead bodhran workshops at folk festivals. John sometimes includes harmonica, mandolin and banjo at live gigs to enhance the variety of instrumental arrangements.

John’s warm and versatile style entertains and engages the audience, usually ensuring a repeat invitation. His repertoire, which is wide and varied, reflects his musical tastes and his enjoyment in playing in different styles, at large and intimate venues alike, and to different types of audience. As well as John’s original compositions, his set for different occasions can include traditional folk, light jazz and popular standards from the last 50 years of rock and pop.

Having performed in many of London's top acoustic venues, John was featured and interviewed by the Times newspaper as a promising talent on the national music scene and has had a major feature in the alternative magazine Wake Up . He also wrote and performed a song for a compilation album featuring, amongst others Billy Bragg, Atilla the Stockbroker and The Men They Couldn’t Hang .

John has appeared many times in large concert venues supporting acts such as Bill Wyman and the Rhythm Kings, Dick Gaughan, Davey Spillane, Carolyn Hester, Hank Wangford, John Otway, Dave Swarbrick, The Strawbs , and Alan Styvell He has also been booked at many festivals over the years including Broadstairs, Folk East, Aldebrugh, Ely, Festival on the Moor, Saltburn, Reedham, Ryedale and Cambridge, the latter the result of winning a popularity poll at Ely Folk Club.

In 1999 John was elected to the national committee of the Folk Roots and Traditional Music Section of the Musicians’ Union, on which he served until 2006, when his increasing writing and gigging commitments resulted in him having to step down. During this time, John actively campaigned for greater representation for acoustic and roots music in the media.

In 2004 John had his first book, an epic poem entitled The Iron Bridge published and performed. In the same year, 2 songs that John co-wrote with pianist, Ian Sainsbury, were recorded and released by top Eagles tribute band, ‘Talon’. Also, along with Ian Sainsbury, he has written a song, 'Don't Put The Little Guy Down' for the America's got talent winner Paul Zerdin.

Along with his wife he is the co-founder of Broad Roots an organiasation which has sought to bring more roots and folk music to his local area and to that end was asked in 2011 to assist with ideas and the pulling together of the Folk East festival which now has two Broad Roots stages that John and Lynne help to Programme and organise.

John continues his writing and has started work on his 8th album.

The John Ward Band

Since the beginning of 2013 John has been putting together and performing with a collecion of musicians commonly known as a band.

The core of this band is: Exceptional guitarist Stephen Mynott, double bass and mandolin player Les Woodley, Andy Marr Cajon percussion and Lynne Ward harmony vocal and mandolin.

With a strong emphasis on vocal harmony from all the band, the eclectic mix of styles once again reflects John's songwriting and repetoire and reproduces some of the sounds found on John's studio albums.

Sometimes the band is joined by other musicians including Mario Price.

anning his 7th album release.

Mario Price Mario Price

John has a reputation as a fine solo performer but often works with outstanding violinist, Mario Price. A talented musician since childhood, Mario’s inventive improvisation and sensitive harmonies are a wonderful accompaniment to John’s songs. The audience adore Mario’s ferocious jigs and reels, stirring Gypsy music, swinging jazz tunes and John's own instrumentals, all played with a mixture of Welsh/Italian passion. Mario features heavily on John's albums, Water On The Stone, Waking Dreams, On Common Ground, Praying For The Alien and East Of The Sunrise. Most recently, Mario has broadened their sound by introducing double bass to the live act.

John and Mario make a truly exciting, foot-stomping, yet often subtle, duo. Together they form 2/3 of the popular ceilidh band, Skip Hire.

John, Lynne and Mario
John and Lynne
John Ward

A Personal Biography

Born and raised in Suffolk on the east coast of England, my mum being an at home mum and Dad, at that time, working in the construction of Sizwell power station. I spent some of my childhood in Southampton, my parents moving there for a while when my Dad was employed at the ESSO oil refinery and I have magical memories of watching the huge liners come and go from the shore of Southampton Water. When Dad got another job in Lowestoft, the family returned once more to live in Suffolk.

I started playing the ukulele when I was twelve and was a childhood fan of George Formby, but didn’t begin playing an instrument really seriously until the age of 14 when I picked up the bass guitar (now inspired by Buddy Holly and The Beatles). My older brother needed a bass player for the band he was getting together and that was the motivation which eventually led to a life of writing and gigging.

After a few bass lessons with Lionel Knights and then Paul Hobbs and much encouragement, bass became my main instrument. Within 12 months and with much rehearsal in a smelly basement, we were performing regularly, playing rock and pop music at weddings, new wave clubs, fetes, pubs, end of the pier shows and coming last in virtually every talent show we entered. Not long after starting on the bass I’d picked up the 6-string and taught myself to play and the songs that had been brewing in my head found an escape route.

Leaving school aged 16, I started work as a carpenter (I seemed to spend most of my time loading bricks) and this just fuelled my growing desire to be a musician, unconstrained by a 9 to 5 life. The carpentry lasted 2 ½ months and was followed by a intermittent stream of jobs, college, working in shops, a market stall and conservation work, as well as a spell of unemployment, all the while still playing in the band. In the mid 1980s, I was tiring of rock and pop and found myself listening to the music of Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan. In order to buy a better acoustic guitar, I sold my Roland synthesiser and went to check out the local Waveney Folk Club.

Having written poetry since childhood, I found the lyrical richness of folk music to be very inspiring and discovered Dick Gaughan, Martin Carthy and Dougie McClean amongst others. The content of folk lyrics appeared to me to be far more rebellious and genuinely challenging than the supposedly anti-establishment rock on the radio. The folk club scene was totally magical to me, wooded walls, candles, history, singing together, politics and all the songs I wrote at that time were aimed to be performed in that environment. At the time I liked writing topical and ‘political’ songs and I got a sympathetic ear from the silent audiences at folk clubs.

After the release of my first album on Folk Sound records, I started travelling from festival to festival and folk club to folk club in my rusting, old dormobile, sleeping on floors, settees and worse along the way and later, going on to tour in Germany several times with Stuart Mack.

Around the summer of 1990, I got news of a violinist who had moved to the area and was looking to play. We met up at the Waveney Folk Club and immediately hit it off. Looking back on that evening that was so significant for me, some of the details escape me now. But I do remember quite clearly Mario on his knees, at some point, playing Lannigans Ball! I’ve never asked Mario whether this was some kind of proposal but we have gone on to play many, many gigs together and he has been a solid musical partner ever since. In the mid 90s I met Ian Sainsbury, a fantastic pianist and songwriter while I was looking after a friends record shop. We soon developed a great friendship, writing some songs together and with Ian playing on most of my albums. My friendsip with Ian led me to meeting and spending a bit of time with a big musical influence of mine Paul McCartney which was a bit of a highlight and co writing a song for America's got talent winner, Paul Zerdin (actually a song for one his puppets!). In 2013 I hooked up with long standing aquaintance and outstanding guitarist Stephen Mynott who not only became a good friend helped me pull a band together and push my music into some new areas.

In 1994, I met Lynne, a Scots lass, when she came to me for guitar lessons and soon guitar lessons turned into something else ... here we are many years later with two children and a great life together. Lynne now often joins me on recordings and live performances. We also love to travel, driving through western America being a bit of a favourite; the canyons, the whales off Monterey, the bears in Sequoia, playing at a roof-top party in Havana, Cuba, and many places in Europe, my trusty camera in hand all the way.

These days, my childhood love of nature and the countryside continues and I still like to still be involved in conservation matters. We help when we can in the organisation and the work of a local wildlife area, Bonds Meadow, a six acre area of mixed habitat and peace amidst the urban part of Oulton Broad.

I love variety in music, both playing and listening. From Mozart to The Sex Pistols, all music uses the same notes to make the melodies so it’s all one subject to me not a competing set of genres, not unlike the human race. Here is a shortish list of big influences and loves, with a few authors thrown in at the end.

The Beatles and Paul McCartney, Dick Gaughan, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, Jackson Brown, Tom Lehrer, The Waterboys, Sandy Denny, Chuck Berry, Martin Carthy, John Denver, Joan Baez, Louden Wainright, Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt, Joni Mitchell, The Fleet Foxes, Amiee Mann, Big Bill Broonzy, Dougie McClean, Richard Grainger, Pete Seeger, The Who, The Kinks, Terry Hall and Mushtaq, Buddy Holly, Ry Cooder, Randy Newman, Alan Franks and Patty Vetta, Tony Winn, Hank Williams, Bob Marley, Bruce Springsteen, Charles Dickens, Herman Hesse, Richard Dawkins, Eckhart Tolle, Spike Milligan.....



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