John Calvin Abney
John Calvin Abney doesn’t stand still. He’d be the first to tell you that.
Abney originally made his name as a rowdy side man, playing guitar, pedal steel, keys and drums for a number of other acts. Thanks to years of extensive touring, both solo and as a gun-for-hire, Abney is possessed of some impressive instrumental stage chops.
But lately, it’s lyricism where he finds his inspiration, with encouragement from a host of Oklahoma songwriters in close proximity. His 2014 and 2015 releases, “Empty Candles” and “Better Luck,” find him abandoning his backseat post in favor of plaintive love songs and the misadventures of a handful of colorful invented characters. There are glimpses of technical prowess in this new chapter, to be sure—that is to say, to play is still the thing, but now with an intent focus on storytelling. “Vice Versa Suite” marked his second release of 2015, and placed John further into a realm of intropective songwriting and piano composition, penning four songs and two piano pieces with a series of musical motifs that dot the nocturnes of the album.
Few songwriters can weave so seamlessly in and out of genre that listeners are left wondering if they indeed heard what they thought they heard. And if they listen again, they’re likely to hear something else. Abney’s songs can be both frenetic and meditative, deeply affectionate and mired in loneliness, and, like Abney himself, both road-weary and ready for adventure.
“Heres to the myth of a man’s redemption, for every other time that he stood there wishing, that she would do the leaving, so he could put it in a song.”
Porter, This Red Mountain
Porter spent his formative years in the music business sharing the songwriting and lead vocal duties in his previous projects, The Back Row Baptists and Some Dark Holler. Upon making the decision to leave the comfort of shared pressure, it took Porter over a year to conceptualize, write, and record his debut solo release, This Red Mountain (TRM). He considers it to be the most sincere work of his career and every aspect of its creation reflects this sentiment. Weaving in and out of lives filled with heartbreak, loss, redemption and joy, the songs of This Red Mountain reveal the story of a man’s lowest lows and the difficult journey back to peace and perspective, living his life on his terms. “I reckon that guy is a lot like me,” says Porter.