John Németh
the Future of Blues

It may be presumptuous to consider an artist as “the future of blues” when he’s been writing music and performing since 2002. However, in a niche dominated with long-standing legends like Buddy Guy and BB King, John Németh has only scratched the surface. With eight albums to his name, collaborations with other artists and a long list of tour dates ahead of him, Németh’s hard work is paying off — and his music is resonating with a growing fan base.


Background

John Németh grew up in Boise, Idaho in 1975. And although Boise may not be the first city that comes to mind when thinking about the blues, that’s where he got the itch for music. It wasn’t always blues for him though. Country was his first influence until he heard the song “Going Down” by Freddie King and discovered his desire to perform songs like that with a band.

Németh made that dream come true by playing in various bands through his teenage years before forming Fat John & the 3 Slims and, later, a band called The Jacks. Eventually, he caught the attention of other blues artists and even briefly replaced vocalist Sam Myers in Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets, between 2005 and 2006.


Sound and Style

Although Németh’s style is naturally inspired by his musical muses, he’s certainly developed a style of his own throughout the years. Nonetheless, it is easy to be reminded of certain blues legends when listening to his dynamic range and soulful harmonica. For example, in a single from his album Love Me Tonight — Love Gone Crazy — John Németh has been likened to T-Bone Walker.


Finding Success as an Artist

In 2002, Németh released his first album, called The Jack of Harps. A debut solo project followed in 2004, called Come and Get It. By 2006, he had a recording contract with Blind Pig Records, and his Magic Touch album granted him a “Best new Artist” nomination at the Blues Music Awards. His 2009 release, Love Me Tonight, hit #6 in the Billboard Top Blues Albums Chart. Reaching that same spot was his next release in 2010, called Name the Day!

Blues Live and Soul Live both followed in 2012, and in 2013, Németh received five Blues Music Award nominations. He finally won that award in 2014 for “Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year” when his Memphis Grease album was released. It won’t be wrong to say that John Németh has certainly cemented his place in the history books of the Blues music. The future generations will fondly listen to and rate his music at par with some of the other accomplished artists who have made a name for themselves in this music genre. He’s been ranked amongst the top American blues artists by the Gigaranking website.


Feelin’ Freaky

Németh’s ninth album, Feelin’ Freaky, was released in 2017, and this is where some say he broke the mold. Through his original songs, Németh colored outside the lines of blues and channeled his R&B, hip-hop and rock n’ roll influences. The tracks are driven by melody and groove, but the lyrics are all over the place, making it actually fun to listen to. They can be thoughtful one minute, humorous the next, and downright sexy another. Németh’s stream of consciousness flows from one thought to the next without inhibition and with a soulful soundtrack to bring it to life.

The John Németh band, Blue Dreamers—produced by Grammy-nominated producer Luther Dickinson — helped bring Feelin’ Freaky to life, featuring Johnny Rhodes on guitar, Danny Banks on drums, and Matthew Wilson on bass and guitar.

The following review from Iain Patience of Elmore Magazine accurately summed up Németh’s energy when on stage performing parts of the album at the Cahors Blues Festival in France:

“It was a surprising delight to find another U.S. bluesman with a high-energy, full-flow take on the blues and a widely admired confidence and power that took the crowd by both storm and surprise. John Németh was, for me, the true show-stealer. His set was blistering and perfectly pitched while his own songwriting talents were also clearly unmistakable, with much of the set featuring tracks from his current album, Feelin’ Freaky. Németh made the absolute most of his stage-time, ripping along with an assurance and style that was truly masterful. On this evidence, Németh is clearly a guy to catch and get to know.”


The Love Light Orchestra, 2017

Organized by producer Matt Ross-Spang, The Love Light Orchestra is a retro blues band made up of 10 of the best blues artists in Memphis, including Németh on vocals, Tim Goodwin on bass, Joe Restivo on guitar, Earl Owens on drums and Gerald Stephens on the piano. The remaining five are horn players Art Edmaiston, Marc Franklin, Kirk Smothers, Scott Thompson and Jason Yasinsky.

What started as a conversation about their love of postwar blues ended up turning into a recording called by some as one of the best albums of 2017. Thankfully, there may be more where that came from. In an interview with Living Blues Magazine, Németh stated that they’d like to make another record and also tour if the next record is as successful as the debut.


Németh and His Harp Skills

Németh is also known for his harmonica skills. He cites its low cost as one of the main reasons for choosing it as an instrument to try out. After all, they’re cheaper than pianos. But it was two songs that inspired him to really go for it: “Mellow Down Easy” by Little Walter and “Snatch it Back and Hold it” by Junior wells.

After a $6 purchase at the music store in his youth, he came home to realize he had the wrong harmonica for both songs and couldn’t play either. Determined as ever, he went back to the store to buy a handful of harmonicas until he found the right fit. Ever since, he’s been doing the instrument great justice, and his skills are respected across the music industry.


Németh and the Future of Blues and Soul

Proving that blues and soul are timeless is the fact that there are resurgences now and then, even in mainstream pop. In an interview with Blues Blast Magazine, Németh stated, “I think pop music always has to go back to find something to reinvigorate itself. Throughout the decades since the ‘60s, it seems like pop music goes back to soul every three or four years. Just right now, what they’ve got is some of these groups that are really trying to copy the old sound, rather than just using influences. Now, they’re going and making dedicated soul records and that’s really interesting to me.”

Whether we’ll be hearing Németh on any of the pop music stations is yet to be seen, but would it be as special if it was forced upon our ears every time we turned on the radio? What makes Németh’s music special is the rawness of it and its unbridled fun. Who needs a major music exec telling him what and what not to do when he’s doing just fine on his own, and having fun doing it. Exposure is never a bad thing though, and judging by the long list of tour dates on his website — taking him from Knoxville, Tennessee all the way to Basel, Switzerland — he’s sure to find it.

This is not the official website for John Németh. For more information, visit the artist’s official website here.