Posted | November 30 2013

John King on Tour - A Proving Ground for The Warmer Winds

I remember driving through the Badlands as a kid.  Miles upon miles of rocky, barren wasteland drifted by outside the window, like a dream.  Eventually we stopped along the road and went exploring.  I climbed on formations, and walked along steep trails of dark rock that fell into deep crevices on both sides.  This maze of trails stretched into the distance for what looked like forever; harsh, haunted passages that carried untold mysteries.  You could easily get lost in that mess; wander in and search forever.

Photo by Amy Leigh Brannan Elsass

I was thinking about truth, and hurt and hopes I’ve experienced in the last few years

In his record, The Warmer Winds, John King sings of this same landscape. He writes of a bus trip to a Native American reservation somewhere in the Badlands, and the sorrow that followed him home.  There’s a Badlands-like quality to the entire record.  There are deep and hidden spaces; there are mysteries and questions; and there’s the displaced narrator, searching and seeking through song after song.

“Floating, lost at sea,” sings this modern Job, lamenting the past, trying to make sense of the present, and crying out for something…anything.  Only this particular Job isn’t content to stay at home and bare the brunt of his afflictions.  This Job left home to try and make sense of things.  He went to the Badlands as a teenager to help those delegated to the fringes of our lands.  Last year he went to Mexico to assist in a missionary building project, a trip that was funded by the presales of his record.  And now that the album is out in the world, he is rambling down cold city streets, guitar in tow, like the mythical rock stars of old.

John and a large number of local collaborators worked on the record for almost 2 years, the arranging process growing exceedingly complex.  He says that in the beginning, “I was thinking about truth, and hurt and hopes I’ve experienced in the last few years”.  But what started as a simple outpouring of questions, and a means to fund a mission’s trip, grew by leaps and bounds.  Songs were recorded and rerecorded.  More musicians jumped on board.  Mixes and masters bounced back and forth from one studio to another.  And as everything reached a crescendo of sound and feedback and illusive beauty, the record was quietly released in early October.

The album wasn’t supposed to be released when it was.  It was uploaded to the Internet and accidentally activated.  John was troubled at first- a year and a half of tireless creation, released into the air like a wisp of smoke. But, eventually he found a peace in letting the songs go, allowing the world at large to respond.

Traveling by bus, sleeping on couches, and playing different venues down the east coast and then westward, John has moved on to new songs and new journeys.  In “500 Nights Alone”, he sings, “I wanna rip my script apart….” and right now he is doing just that.  He calls his self-organized tour “a proving ground”; a place to actively answer the questions that his songs pose.  It’s the chance for him to rediscover that pure place where his lyrics first took root.  Perhaps it was out on that reservation years ago.  Perhaps he’s still working his way out of that maze.

John’s Tour Blog is

—Written by Josh Compton


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