John Calvin Abney

John Calvin Abney

If you spend much time on the road not taken, you are likely to meet John Calvin Abney there.

Perfectionist. Evoker of chaos. Individualist. Accomplished side man. Storyteller.

The only musician from either side of his family for generations, John spent much of his high school years in Tulsa studying music from inside a choir room. Just as the electric guitar was starting to lose some of its cultural cachet, John Calvin Abney doubled down on his own, creating discordant walls of sounds with his band and gleefully alienating anyone who would take the time to be offended by the reckless abandon with which he approached his music.

A year before graduation in 2011, John formed a two-piece band with Marty Landers called Pilgrim and Pine, a noisy duo that Abney describes as “a punkier Black Keys kind of thing.” After one particularly bombastic performance, he was approached by singer-songwriter Camille Harp, who asked him if he’d like to come perform with her the following week. “I don’t know what it was about that performance that made her think I could color inside the lines but she gave me a bunch of charts and we were off to the races.” Calvin ended up playing a weekly residency with Harp for more than a year which spiraled quickly into other gigs backing up performers like Samantha Crain that took him all over the country.

In 2012, Calvin released the Without Wax demos, a six song collection that marked the beginning of his transition from a guitarist to a songwriter — something that Abney freely acknowledges came to him later than some. With the release of the Empty Candles EP in late 2014 and his first-full length recording, Better Luck due out in January 2015, this attention to songwriting craft is paying big dividends for Abney.

Though he still performs with Crain, John Moreland and Kyle Reid, John Calvin Abney is stepping out of the shadows in his role as a sideman and unmistakably taking center stage as a bandleader in his own right. Armed with a clear vision of his own, an unwavering dedication to the song as his chosen vehicle of personal expression and experience measurable in thousand mile hauls to the next gig, John Calvin Abney is a game-changer and we haven’t seen the best (forget about the last) of him yet.


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