John Németh
the Future of Blues

John Németh Influences

According to the popular saying, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. However, in the case of John Németh, that isn’t exactly true. If Németh’s musical influences as a young child predicted what would shape him as a musician, he’d be playing Hungarian folk music and singing operas — both his father’s favorite types of music.

Németh’s father grew up in a town near Budapest before bringing his passion for music to the U.S. In America, he’d play music from his hometown for his children and took them to see touring classical soloists. Although Németh originally made fun of his father’s musical tastes, he did have a certain admiration for Hungarian folk music, saying that it is well advanced harmonically, with fiddles going at 300 beats per minute. He said it is actually quite bluesy and soulful, which is likely where he got the ear for blues music.

When Németh turned 10, his older brother gave him his collection of 8-track tapes before moving out. At 13 years his senior, his collection exposed John to a variety of artists, including Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. These artists are the ones Németh credits for his desire to join a band.

It wasn’t until Németh got to high school that he was introduced to blues music. According to Németh, when a newly formed friend introduced him to it, it blew his mind. As a result, they put a band together. In 1993, at the age of 18, he started singing the blues during a time when grunge and hip-hop were all the rage in Boise, Idaho. He also formed a cover band called the Nat King Cole Trio that performed mostly in college bars to pay the bills.

Eventually, he became influenced by Junior Watson, who played with The Mighty Flyers and, later, Canned Heat. Touring with Watson influenced him to play a style of blues known as California R&B. Németh liked this style so much that he actually made the move to California.

With his open mind and open ears, Németh seemed to have an insatiable hunger for the blues. He allowed the influences to continue after getting gigs with Elvin Bishop, who taught him about harmonies.

Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets were also a major influence, as he filled in for their vocalist and harmonica player Sam Myers. This was a tough job, as Myers had a loyal following who wanted to hear him but instead got Németh. But he nailed it. He learned a lot about singing while working with Howard Grimes, their drummer who had already collaborated with an impressive variety of vocalists that included Al Green.

Németh was also influenced by postwar blues, which was the foundation for The Love Light Orchestra, a 10-piece band that released a 2017 album to great reviews.