Here’s what the Illinois Times had to say about John Van Orman: “On Saturday evening comes John Van Orman, known to Springfield folkies as a founding member of the area folk ensemble Finnegans Wake. As an award winner, folk center director, hurdy-gurdy player, singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, instrument builder and world traveler, the man is a fabulous treasure-trove of all things folk-music oriented and a gifted performer as well…This is a wonderful thing folks, go enjoy.”
Thanks, Tom Irwin!
Photo: chris quillen
A Byronic figure on the West Bank scene in Minneapolis during the end of the twentieth century, John C. Van Orman made a mark reflected by the many regional artists who have covered his songs over the years. Boiled in Lead, Bill Hinkley and Judy Larson, Sherry Minnick, and The Flash Girls are a diverse lot whose covers reflect the breadth of Van Orman’s appeal.
His songs are often referential, alluding lyrically and musically to images, themes and motifs from traditional folk song, a realm about which he is very knowledgeable. The instruments with which he accompanies himself – guitar, concertina, pump organ, fiddle and hurdy-gurdy – enhance the vintage quality of the material. Van Orman received Minnesota Music Academy awards for his multi-instrumental prowess as well as for his songwriting skills.
Here’s John, singing “Death on Hennepin” from his album, Love, Liquor, and the Lord.