Johnny O singing with Solomon Burke at the Portland, OR Waterfront Blues Festival
John O. Nelson
Singer, Musician, Songwriter
|Born and raised in the "Windy City", John O. Nelson was exposed to the musical melting pot that filled the airwaves of that mid-western city. Piano lessons, singing in boy's choir at church and years on the trumpet in school orchestra honed his ability to recognize and create quality sounds. Blues, Soul , R & B, Country, Folk and Rock 'n Roll shared early influence and they all managed to find their way into teenaged jam sessions.
Leaving Chicago for good in his late teens, John's twentieth birthday found him in Boulder, CO where, over the next ten years, he fronted or shared leadership in numerous incarnations of R & B-based bands that played all the regional venues including; Tulagi's, The Blue Note, Freddy's Lounge, The Little Bear and Shannon's. Local entertainment reviews frequently recognized the distinctive, bluesy vocals put out by 'Johnny O.', (as he was known then), when his bands were the featured act, as well as opening act, for national touring artists. These shows often ended in jam sessions with such legends as Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Johnny Shines, James Cotton, John Hammond, Jr. and Elvin Bishop. One gig took the band to Kansas City's Beaux Arts Festival where they performed with Texas blues master Mance Lipscomb and the flower-power rockers, Love.
All along, John O. Nelson developed a love and flair for composing songs in many genres, but always with Country/R & B roots. (He received the "Best Song of the Year" award in an A & M Records sponsored competition for the Denver area.). A promising opportunity developed in Los Angeles and John moved West to pursue his dream. What seemed fool proof eventually floundered but, while still living in L.A., he found himself commuting to Colorado to record an album for Next Coast Records! With distribution promised by A & M, and the gold record producing skills of Jim Mason, Johnny O.s American roots sound was tailored in an attempt to appeal to a more mainstream, commercial audience.
With Los Angeles seeming to offer little more than smog and traffic, John left for the open spaces of Oregon where he continued to write songs and perform in regional venues.
A chance meeting with the legendary King Solomon Burke at the Portland, OR Waterfront Blues Festival developed into onstage musical magic during Solomon's gospel set on Sunday. Since that time, John O. Nelson has performed, on occasion, as a backing and featured vocalist with Burke's "Soul's Alive Orchestra". One of the shows was at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles as opening act for The Rolling Stones.
John is now 1/2 of the driving force behind bLUESdUSTERS and continues to work on his solo studio project for Solomon Burkes The One production company.