John Relph

There was always music in the house when John was growing up. His mother played classical piano and his father was a guitar-toting refugee from the folk wars of the sixties. But the first song he remembers is “Yellow Submarine” from The Beatles' Revolver; he learned to operate his father's reel-to-reel tape deck so he could listen to the song over and over. But it wasn't until he was 11 years old when he decided to pick up his father's acoustic guitar (John remembers going with his father to a music store in Los Angeles to buy the guitar). Within a year John was also playing his father's mandolin. A few years later John was given an electric bass guitar, which he played in the family band North Country.

At the age of 16, John entered and won the Junior Picking division at the California State Fiddle Contest in Sonora. He has since been California State Picking Champion numerous times on both mandolin and guitar. John also accompanied his sisters when they entered fiddle contests; his sister Linda was California State Ladies Champion three years running. John went on to become one of California's most popular fiddle contest accompanists. He has also played with numerous fiddlers at the National Oldtime Fiddler's Contest in Weiser, Idaho. He has also performed on the Weiser stage as an entertainer, accompanying the likes of Megan Lynch, Alex Hargreaves, Tiny Moore, Dick Barrett and many others.

In the eighties, John joined Will Rusch to form Blues'd & Confused, combining fiddle tunes and fingerpicked country blues in a unique folk hybrid. They played stages around the San Francisco Bay Area for over 15 years.

Since the late nineties, John has been a founding member of three bluegrass groups, West Of Kentucky, the highly regarded Cabin Fever, and Newgrass Effect with Tom Gray, purveyors of fine bluegrass and psychedelia. John was also a member of Dirty River, whose album Graveyard Train was nominated for a Wammie.

Today, John keeps himself busy playing classical, celtic, jazz, fiddle tunes, oldtime, Britpop, progressive rock, and other less classifiable musical genres. He also plays in three Washington DC area bands: Matt Slocum and the Gravel Road Band, purveyors of fine bluesgrass, The Flower Hill String Band, bluegrass and contemporary acoustic, and Double Sharp, an acoustic genre-jumping duo. Give him a call.

5 January 2019 / Feedback