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Featured Musician — John Beach

Profile by Judy Cedar, 2003

All Photos Courtesy of John Beach Unless Otherwise Noted

Born July 5, 1942 in Stillwater, Minnesota.

Keyboards & Vocals - Americana music

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photo of John's father
John's father

By age 11, John was playing piano. There is a high likelihood that John's artistry was influenced by his father. In John's words, "My father was a musician and played blues and jazz piano out on the West Coast and later in the Twin Cities. He was a soulful, excellent player."

By age 16, John was playing gigs with Shirt Thompson and the Four Sleeves, featuring Butch Thompson (clarinet) and high school friends. That band performed together for two years playing dixieland and blues music.

picture of John at piano, Texas
John at piano, Texas

After high school, John meets the Army and gets stationed in San Antonio, Texas. While in Texas, John played in various bars playing mostly Texas-lounge, R & B, and blues music. One band that John played with while in Texas included drummer Dallas Taylor, formerly of Crosby Stills Nash & Young. (see http://www.dallastaylorband.com/bio.html)

When John returned to the Twin Cities, in 1966, he got into the "West Bank Scene" playing blues and R&B. Some of the local bands John played with back then included Willie Murphy, Mannar Walker, Jo Jo Williams, et.al. Also, in the 1969-1970, John backed up Dave Ray & the Bamboo Band during their East Coast Tour.

picture of John, West Bank
West Bank Days

Willie & the Bumblebees toured and played at every venue in town from 1970 to 1978. John Beach played with this band during these eight years and also played some of the last gigs with the Bumblebees in 1985.

Say the name Bonnie Raitt and we have another local connection. The 1971 release of Bonnie Raitt was engineered by Dave Ray. Several local artists, including John Beach, appear on this record. John did studio work with Bonnie, arranged piano introductions, and wrote a couple verses of lyrics for "Woman Be Wise" (Beach/Wallace) which appears on Raitt's 1971 LP (recently reissued as a CD).

picture of band
Mill City Hearts Band

Beach was the leader for the Mill City Hearts Band that was formed in 1983 and stayed together through 1993. Although this group never recorded, they played around town at venues such as the Viking, Bunkers, 400 Bar, Fine Line plus festivals and in bars around the metro area. Band members include Paul Moberg, Paul Harper, Howard Merrieweather, John Beach and Joe Litgens.

The Three Bedroom Ramblers cut a CD in 1994 entitled What Was the Question. The Three Bedroom Ramblers trio performed during the years 1993-1996 and includes players Korty Baderstscher, John Beach and Dave Ray. If you happen to have this CD, you will note that Beach is credited for writing lyrics and music for five of the songs: "Heart of Mine," "Lost Someone," "Better Get Your Hat," "Watchdog" and "Roadrunner."

The Blackburn-Beach Blues Band was formed in 1995 and became the house band for O'Hara's on Selby. Band members include Henry Blackburn, Dave Maslow, Dave Ray, Keith Boyles, Mary Leinfelder, John Beach and Paul Lagos. The band played together for four years and released a CD in 1998.

sample of artwork
John's Artwork

Artistry and creativity are synonymous words that help define who John Beach is. John describes his playing as Americana. That fits. John's music includes shades and hues from many genres. And, we can add to John's music style and songwriting abilities another form of artistic expression ... ink art. John considers himself a full-time musician, but ink drawing is a hobby that he developed especially during the years when he was working a day job as an accountant (from 1983 to 1992). If you are looking for some artwork, you might want to ask John to see his!

John has done some teaching of lessons in the past, but he explains that those he mentored were self-initiated.

picture of Swanee/Beach
Swanee/Beach Duo
Photo courtesy of Swanee

Today, John continues to play music in and around the metro area several nights a week. In addition to private parties and gigs, John plays with the Joel Johnson Band. John has played with this band, off and on, through the 80's and 90's and up to the present. You can also catch John playing Monday's jam on the West Bank at the Viking Bar with Willie Murphy. On Tuesdays, Beach and Swanee play at the Stardust Lanes in Seward neighborhood, Minneapolis. Wednesdays John can be found playing at Lisa's in Carver.




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page last updated: Wednesday, December 2, 2020

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