John C. Van Orman

Next up!  December 10, 2017, 2 pm.  John C. Van Orman at Olbrich Gardens, Madison, WI:

John C. Van Orman

Traditional Folk

“In addition to his talents as a singer and songwriter, John Van Orman plays a wide array of instruments, including six and seven string guitars, the hurdy-gurdy, harmonium, Anglo concertina, and ukulele. He has received Minnesota Music Academy awards for his songwriting and performance skills, and is former Music Director of the Ozark Folk Center in Arkansas. He is also a member the long lived band Finnegans Wake who performed this summer at the Theater at Taliesin in Spring Green, WI, and at the Focal Point in St. Louis.”


photo by megan helwin

photo:  harv koplo

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.