A Blues Review
by steven masone
I play harp. I developed COPD some years ago and lost my windpower and am now doing all I can to learn how to play all over again using new breathing technique . Watching, and taking lessons from some outstanding harpists in Eugene, I have learned I can breath different and more efficient than the way I taught myself. Most of us started out not having a clue about breathing. Most use 1/3 to 1/2 of our lung capacity during normal activities, then we get a harmonica and are surprised by our shortness of breath and small capacity. We hear great bluesman do seemingly impossible harp parts and wonder how they did that... John Clifton is one of those!
John Clifton's first time in Eugene at Mac's @ the Vet ( thanks to Vicki Pearlman & Rainy Day Blues Society) took many harp aspects to new levels for both the audience and some of the bluesmen who showed up. First of all his showmanship is off the hook! To me, he's a blues version of "Old Blue Eyes." Classy and flawless, but with much more electricity from the start of his show. It takes a special performer to open up in high gear and keep shifting into higher gears. John Clifton did not have a weak moment as he upped the ante throughout a great show! He is now one of only a handful of harp players I will watch everything he has online to try and learn his incredible ability to blast with Chicago electrifying stylings, and switch up into Delta swampy acoustical rhythms, and breath control techniques that are all his own, and phase into soul and rock/funk stylings so effortlessly, then blending them with lightning fast note runs and tonguing techniques beyond ridiculous! His voice is also ridiculous as he can sing like a cajun swamp crooner, then hit high notes that would get instant four chair turns on NBC's The Voice. Hailing from Fresno, Ca...if he got his bandmates there, Fresno has b een hiding a musical untapped gold mine! All were outstanding! I'm from the SF Bay area and Sacramento blues scene, circa late 60's thru mid eighties, radio personality and blues harp player from Sacramento, known as the Godfather of Blues, Mick Martin raves...
“Vocalist and harp player John Clifton is an outstanding, dedicated musician who plays genuine blues. The real deal!”— Mick Martin , Capital Public Radio
But enough from me...here's some of his bio.... and see link to his website and get some of this man's music!
“You've got to work hard to make it look this easy and hard is where He starts. He knows how to light up a show with intensity, and doesn't know how to quit---so he doesn't . With the electricity turned up to 11, you can count on John Clifton to electrify you!” Midwest Record
Hitting the road hard since the early days and performing over 150 dates a year, John regularly tours in the U.S. and has headlined some of the most well known venues and festivals throughout Europe such as the Beersel Blues Festival in Belgium, and the Blues Express and Polish Boogie Festivals, both in Poland. He has also electrified audiences on festivals and in venues throughout the islands of New Zealand and Fiji!
IN 2016, The John Clifton Blues Band performed on the Doheny Blues Festival, California's largest and most prestigious festivals, with Edgar Winter and Lynyrd Skynyrd headlining. He also injected a shot of adrenaline to the acclaimed Edition de Bain de Blues Festival in France.
With style and prowess on the level of Kim Wilson and Rod Piazza, John has always kept it real with his own voice and identity and never set out to be a copy of any of his musical heroes. As a showman he delivers straight from the heart, soul, and gut, staying clear of the typical clichés and novelties.
He also keeps things fresh and exciting by effortlessly infusing styles from West Coast to Chicago Blues, classic R&B and Soul, to some hard driving vintage Rock'n'Roll.
John's reputation and performances have earned him the respect of many of the greats as he has been invited on stage with the likes of James Cotton, Rod Piazza, Tommy Castro, John Mayall, Huey Lewis, Willie Big Eyes Smith, Luther Tucker, Kim Wilson, Billy Boy Arnold, James Harman, and Rusty Zinn. He was also given the honor of opening for BB King, winning and being a multiple nominee for the Modesto Area Music Awards, and receiving the "Declaration of Appreciation" from the State of California for his contribution to the arts.