Country troubadour John Louis wanders around this Twin Town of music, writing and singing heartworn country folk songs.
John’s that guy on the bus who sits quietly, looking tired like the rest of us. The difference is he is sitting there composing a song about your life and those painful poignant moments you dust off on the way home between life’s chores. His songs show us our lives and the subtle but important things that become universally important hallmarks of our Midwestern journey.
Like church basement rolls at the funeral. Like the small moments on road trips filled with meaning, loss and memory. The tragedies and triumphs that break us and keep us going one more day.
John glimpses it all through a poet’s heart. When he stands bravely on a stage with a guitar and begins singing, we get to see it too. And it makes sense for a moment.
The songs John writes keep winning awards from prestigious songwriting showcases. Including the Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk competition, Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Songwriter Showcase, and the Great River Folk Fest songwriter contest. (That’s some hot sh-t folks!)
I dare you to listen to his music and not feel like the first human who rode on the tilt-a-whirl.
The thing is, this country folk music he makes has emerged from walking the path to wisdom. This is a path most American men run from. Because it’s a painful and sad road. But it is a sadness tinged with meaning and some joy at the thought that we get to experience any of it.
His telling of the journey is thrilling, emotional and truth filled.
John Louis songs will bind us all together in a concert that will have us laughing, weeping openly and connecting with one another as people on the same path to the destination. He knows that in fact no one here facing this life-sentence of life for an indeterminate length of time had much choice and the few choices we did have were blown somehow. But god how sweetly we love it. His songs are the consolation prize for all of us losers as we get up and stare out the window and are gripped with a love of this precious life and a woe that resides at the edges of this brief journey through.
“John Louis is a good man writing great music up in Minneapolis.” Jon Dee Graham
“John Louis's songwriting is reminiscent of Kris Kristofferson, John Prine and Townes Van Zandt.” Radio Heartland, Minnesota Public Radio
“I love the songs that John Louis writes. LOVE!” Sarah Morris
“Rootsy singer/songwriter John Louis [is] equal parts John Prine and Robert Earl Keen . . . .” Minneapolis StarTribune
“. . . brings to mind John Prine, Patty Griffin, Kris Kristofferson and Lucinda Williams . . . . Louis is a storyteller by nature, and his album asks an ear of its listeners. Live at The Warming House, Minneapolis, Minnesota is both gentle and intense. It welcomes listeners in, and gives them something to think about. ” No Depression
“John Louis . . . is a great singer/songwriter. His “Shut Down” song is damn near perfect.” Brad Raley
“. . . a particularly engaging album.” Americana UK (on 2024 release “For Everyone (Especially You)”)
"A terrific live album!" The Sundilla Radio Hour (commenting on 2018 release "Live at The Warming House, Minneapolis, Minnesota")
“Love it!” Jonathan Byrd (on 2015 release “Drift”)
"Minneapolis folk picker/alt-twanger John Louis sings whimsically and movingly about city life and mid-life on his new album "For Everyone (Especially You)" Minneapolis StarTribune
From Americana UK:
Review of “For Everyone (Especially You)”
January 31, 2024 Paul Kerr
For Everyone (Especially You) is “a ruminative ‘journey of decline, despair, resignation, and death – and the aftermath’ delivered in a gloriously wearied style with a hangdog expression. Laments such as ‘The Wind’ and ‘Shut Down‘ capture perfectly hardscrabble moments with a tired sense of acceptance while Louis takes a page from Dylan’s ‘Planet Waves’ and offers two versions of a song, in this case, ‘I Wish I Remembered You’. The first is quiet and reflective, the second, according to Louis, “sort of like a fever-dream of the main character from the first version,” adds a creamy pedal steel to the mix along with angelic female backing vocals. Closing with a solo rendition of ‘Sleep Well’, Louis wraps up a particularly engaging album.”
December 7, 2023 Carol Roth
John Louis’s voice is gentle, honest, almost unassuming, but there’s something about it that stops you in your tracks. Then you hear a line or two of his lyrics, and that’s enough to get you fully hooked. Louis has the kind of mastery of words that’s simple and natural yet precisely attuned to the workings of the human heart, and a way of expressing it that’s humble and earthbound yet fulfills our instinctive desire to tap into the divine and mystical.
There is almost no other artist I’d trust more to tackle the topic of his new single and turn it into a song that’s as pleasurable as it is heartbreaking. “Wake Me Up” comes out tomorrow, Friday December 8, but we’re honored to share its exclusive premiere here today!
The song’s stripped-down arrangement sets an unadorned stage for Louis’s voice and arresting lyrics. “Wake me up from this sad sad scene,” he begins; “Whatever it takes—ice cubes or amphetamines.”
Told from the perspective of someone preparing to leave (which could be interpreted a few different ways), “Wake Me Up” is about trying to capture final moments together, saying something—anything—while you still have the chance (“Something from your heart or just a good joke”). As hungry as parting ways makes us for those conversations, the song acknowledges that there are no words that can fully sum up a life or relationship or feeling in light of the magnitude of impending loss: “Voices break like light through a crack in the drapes / Is there really anything left to say?”
Louis shared the story behind “Wake Me Up”: “My dad died from an aggressive cancer when I was in my late 20s. I remember one particularly hard day at the hospital when we were asked to make a decision about whether or not to wake him from a very deep sleep so some of us could potentially have a final conversation with him, or to just let him sleep peacefully.”
Interestingly, he doesn’t remember which path they chose; if they did wake him up, the words exchanged weren’t as memorable as the internal debate that preceded them. “But as I’ve thought of it in recent years, it occurred to me that if I was ever the one dying, I’d want my kids and loved ones to bring me back for whatever last moment they wanted to have,” Louis says.
With just a gently strummed acoustic guitar, bittersweet violin and subtle bass, the instrumentation cradles the quietly devastating lyrics, imbuing them with beauty and a certain lightness despite their emotional weight. “Dex Wolfe did an amazing job in the production and engineering on this,” Louis says, “and the contributions of Clifton Nesseth’s violin and Robbie Weisshaar on bass are stunning.”
“Wake Me Up” will be on Louis’s new album, For Everyone (Especially You), which he plans to officially drop on January 22, 2024 (with a likely early release on Bandcamp).
(See the full story with pictures at https://www.adventuresinamericana.com/the-music-distillery-blog/single-premiere-john-louis-wake-me-up)
From Americana UK
Video Premiere: John Louis “Gone Too Far”
May 25, 2021 Andrew Frolish
The latest single from John Louis has the feel of a song by John Prine or Kris Kristofferson, thanks to the beautifully constructed lyrics and his warmly characterful vocals. A real highlight of ‘Gone Too Far’ is the way the voices of Louis and backing singer Siri Undlin move together and lean on one another; they each complement the other perfectly and their combination adds another dimension to an already lovely melody. Along with Undlin, Louis is backed by an outstanding group of players: Jeremy Boettcher’s bass and Shane Leonard’s drums give the song a gentle rhythm while Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter) provides piano and organ. Ben Lester (S. Carey, Bon Iver) delivers impressively dreamy pedal steel and mellotron. The musicians’ collective impact is to create a song that bears repeated plays and soon feels like a familiar favourite.
Louis shared the story behind the song and video with AUK: “The video for ‘Gone Too Far’ was created by talented artists Erik Elstran and Sarah Elstran. Both are gifted, kind, creative souls who do incredible things with video and music. Like many of my songs, ‘Gone Too Far’ came from a combination of observations, stories, and my own experiences. Part of the inspiration was thinking about the things you can’t take with you, and the things that are always with you. I had been playing this song out solo for a while before recording the single, and I love how the recording transformed the song. Producer Shane Leonard did an amazing job, and Siri Undlin’s backing vocals add a new layer of meaning.”
Louis draws us into the song with artfully chosen words and real poetry: “Pack up your beauty // Pack up your inspirations // Secrets and mysteries // Affections and revelations // In a box by the back door // Close enough to grab on your way to the car // When it’s gone too far.” There’s wistful heartache and weariness in Louis’ timeless country-folk and his talents have been recognised by the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Songwriter Showcase and the Kerrville New Folk competition, where he was a finalist in 2019.
We’re delighted to premiere the video for ‘Gone Too Far’, an authentic song for those looking for human stories, real emotion and heart in musical form.
Press for Singles "Gone Too Far" and "Shut Down"
"This is a storyteller’s song, with raw harmonies and a tender expression. John Louis is one of those songwriters who automatically plants your heart in your throat — the ultimate goal for fans of Americana music." - Americana Highways
"'Gone Too Far' was recorded with producer Shane Leonard, and features and delivers a Neil Young “Harvest” like aura that is heartfelt, honest, open and real. It drips with Americana and will linger with you for a long time after your first listen." - Disciples of Sound
"John Louis delivers insightfully incisive songwriting chops via 'Shut Down'. . . Americana is served at its most emotive, and Louis adheres exquisitely." Glide Magazine