Keeping promises, John Merchant is a musical purist

July 15, 2014
John Merchant

John Merchant

TONIGHT’S CONCERT AT THE CLOWN BAND SHELL HAS BEEN CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER. John Merchant will be rescheduled for a later date this summer. SCOTTVILLE – This week’s Tuesday night Scottville Clown Band Shell Concert Series will feature John Merchant. Hailing from Ludington, John has been playing music around the area for years and is excited for this special performance at 7 p.m., Tuesday, July 15. Mason County Press Senior Correspondent Kate Krieger met up with John to discuss his musical journey thus far and where he hopes to go in the future. Please watch MCP in case tonight’s show is canceled due to rain. 

MCP: How did you get your start?   

JM: To be honest, I imagine it’s what it’s like being called to the ministry. Music has just always been there. I don’t remember a start per se. It just is.

MCP: What style of music do you consider yourself? Any musical influences that are present in your music?

JM: If pressed for a style, I would say singer/songwriter. There’s a lot of folk, classic country and singer/songwriter influence in what I do. I’ve always gravitated to songs that tell some sort of story. “Baby, Baby Baby” doesn’t really connect with me. As a writer, I always try and make my songs go somewhere in regard to a storyline. The key is to tell some sort of story that you personally connect with, but leave it vague enough that the listener can insert themselves and have it mean something to them. I didn’t grow up in New Jersey but I can certainly relate to “Thunder Road,” “Born to Run,” or “Spirit in the Night.” Those songs are so well written that I can imagine myself interacting with the characters Springsteen is singing about.

MCP: How often do you play out and where can people check you out at besides this Tuesday’s show at the Scottville Clown Band Shell?

JM: I play out pretty regularly. Locally I have appearances coming up at the Blu Moon and the Shagway Arts Barn. I’ll be at Muskegon’s Bike Time on Thursday evening and Shay’s Chop House in Onekema on Friday.

MCP: How did the Scottville gig come to you and what should people look forward to when they come out to hear you play? 

JM: I think the gig in Scottville was offered to be earlier in the year. My band, Hard Promises, just played at the shell on Friday and it was a great time. When people come hear my play, it’s my hope that they gain some insight into me as a person and what material influenced me to want to write and perform. I tend to be pretty outside the box but a lot of that is the fact that I’ve done this for 20-plus years. I’ve amassed a lot of material and I’ve been blessed to always find venues that are willing to have someone who isn’t “playing the hits.”

MCP: In your spare time, when not playing music, what are you doing? 

JM: Thanking God for my wife, son, family and friends. I’m also thinking about music all the time. I can honestly say there is rarely a moment when music isn’t on my mind.

The band shell is owned and operated as a joint venture between the Scottville Optimist Club and Scottville Clown Band. The committee operates as a separate entity and includes representatives from both organizations and from the community. Tax deductible donations may be sent to Scottville Clown Band, PO Box 278, Scottville, MI 49454.


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