Saturday, April 19, 2008

John Simms My Acoustic Soul

John Simms My Acoustic Soul
This album originally came out in 2006 and had passed me by until Dave Cole reviewed it for In The Basement magazine due to it being released in France.
If you like you soul mellow in the vein of Terry Callier then take a listen to the snippets. IDR readers maybe familiar with John's work with his brother Arthur. Here is a brief bio:

John Simms hails from Baltimore and has been a professional guitarist, singer, composer and songwriter since he was 17. Being the youngest of 14 children, all of whom were singers or musicians or both, he didn’t have to go very far to find his earliest inspirations; his father was also a gospel singer in the 30s and 40s with a group called the Spiritual Chords.

He honed his craft the old-school way having spent many years on the Chitlin Circuit with various groups; including the 70s H&L records recording group: The Softones- for whom he was bandleader/guitarist / arranger (The Softones originated with his two brothers and two nephews).

He came to Paris more than 20 years ago to get off the road for a while and hook up with his pianist/singer brother Arthur. He immediately began to make a living there: sometimes as a song writer/composer, (he even wrote songs for the Paradis Latin’s show Champagne), sometimes as a session guitarist or yet again as a backing vocalist with his now-deceased brother. French performers are perhaps not known outside the country, but one of the people or groups he performed and recorded with with might mean something to someone: Michel Jonasz, Robert Charlebois, Yves Simon, Jacques Dutronc, Chagrin d’Amour, (he also did a few tours with Nana Mouskouri).

His first album, which he made with his brother Arthur, was released in 1980. It was produced by Alec Costandinos in the US and soberly entitled ‘John &Arthur Simms’
While in the States John also worked as a session guitarist with the renowned singer/songwriter /producer Al Johnson and he made it to Carnegie Hall playing behind the 70s classy soul singer Jean Carn.

John returned to Paris and married Brenda (Danielle Rogé) Jackson who was head of musical programming at French cable television network Canal +. Throughout the 13 years of his marriage, John continued to write songs for various French artist and work occasionally as a studio singer/musician, but following Brenda’s death in 2002 he faded from the music world as he tried to deal with his loss. He had come to Paris to be with his brother Arthur and stayed for his wife Brenda; now they were both gone.

Life began to take on meaning again for John when he decided just over a year ago that it was time to get back to his first love: playing and singing. The Parisian audiences were so bowled over by his performance that they implored him to make an album: the result is My Acoustic Soul.

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