Ivas John Quartet takes music to the street

By Gus Bode

Check them out @ ivasjohn.com or Myspace.com/ivasjohnband.com

Most bands release albums as a calling card to book better gigs or to increase their profile, but Carbondale’s Ivas John Quartet recorded its debut album, “Street Music,” because fans have been asking for the group’s music for months.

“Every show we play, people ask, ‘Where can I buy your record?’ and it sucked not to have an answer,” drummer Wayne Goodwin said. “Thankfully that won’t be a problem now.”


Ivas John will be playing a record release party for “Street Music”at 9 pm on Feb. 14 at Hangar 9

While “Street Music” will be released Valentine’s Day, the Ivas John Quartet has played around the Midwest for years.

John, a native of Chicago, initially came to Carbondale in 1999. Shortly thereafter, he started working with local greats such as Martin “Big Larry” Albritton and Richard “Rip Lee” Pryor. John said although this formative experience served him well and taught him a great deal, he desired to do more than play guitar.

He wanted to write and sing his own songs.


“Working with him (Big Larry) was a tremendous experience for me, and after playing with him for a few years, I wanted to express myself in addition to playing guitar,” John said. “I felt I had that kind of creative energy inside of me and I wanted to express that with my own group.”

John set out to find the most talented musicians to complete the band, and said he has found the perfect fit in Goodwin – bassist James Layman and pianist/organist Brad Bell.

“Everyone just fit right in because each one of us is a real music lover and these guys are all great musicians,” John said.

With the band’s lineup mostly cemented – minus a run of organists prior to Bell joining – the quartet began touring and slowly planning “Street Music.”

Like many up and coming bands, John said the quartet plays hundreds of shows each year to audiences throughout the Midwest. The band plays three to four nights each week, including a semi-permanent Sunday night gig at Key West.

This band’s cohesion, Goodwin said, helped the quartet carry live energy into the studio.

Goodwin said he would typically bring lights and other atmospheric elements into the studio to create an environment more similar to a smoky club than a sterile recording studio.

“We all played together in the same room, playing off each other like we do on stage, and that’s definitely the best way to record an album,” he said. “The only thing missing was the energy of a crowd.”

Although everyone involved in recording “Street Music” seemed quite pleased with the outcome of the months of work, Goodwin said he is still focused on progressing as a band. While the album is sure to sate fans, make new converts and raise the band’s profile, Goodwin said the record is just a frozen moment in the band’s life.

“A record is like a painting, a piece of art,” he said. “This album is us now and we keep growing and getting better and the next record will be even better.”

That “painting” shows a band that is at once steeped in history, but also determined to reshape the way people view blues music. Both John and Goodwin said one element separating the quartet from many contemporaries is a commitment to writing and playing original music.

“There’s a lot of blues CDs these days that are for the most part cover tunes, and the originals are something that really sets this album apart, ” John said. “Maybe you won’t recognize a lot of the songs we’re doing, but I’m really proud of the music we’ve made because it came from us.”

That’s not to say that the band doesn’t, as John put it, “give credit where credit is due.” The band cites the likes of Robert Cray, Ronnie Earl and various Chicago blues icons as influences. John even credits his father, who helped pen some of the lyrics on “Street Music,” as an influence and inspiration.

“He’s a blues man himself and he has inspired me and helped me a great deal,” John said of his father. “I owe him and my band mates a lot of credit for the things we’ve accomplished.”

The record release show at Hangar 9 is the culmination of months of work for the band and, as Goodwin noted, the album represents the next stage in the band’s continuing progression.

“People have been asking for this record for a long time, and I’m so happy it’s finally coming out,” Goodwin said. “The album is a big step for us, but fans can still expect four guys giving it their all whether it’s for one person or 1,000 people wherever we play. Our live show is really important to the band, but now we have “Street Music” to give fans, too.”

Check them out @ ivasjohn.com or Myspace.com/ivasjohnband.com