Born and raised in Charleston, West Virginia, John Inghram was steeped in the historic music of the region. His mother’s side of the family were church musicians, and he was exposed to bluegrass, country, gospel, and old-time music as a kid. But for Inghram, it is neither the past nor the future that piques his interest. On his self-titled debut album, John Inghram, the accomplished bass player seizes the present moment to step into the spotlight as a frontman. With a collection of 60’s and 70’s psychedelic rock tunes, Inghram sets modern experiences to vintage sounds, allowing his listeners to feel time as circular in nature, hitting on the right now with both nostalgia and innovation.
Inghram moved from Charleston to New York City at the age of nineteen and steeped himself in jazz, rock, blues, funk, and Latin styles at the Collective School of Music. After attending
the University of Akron, Inghram was hired by jazz pianist Bob Thompson’s band and began subbing in the house band for NPR’s Mountain Stage radio show, which broadcasts live from his hometown of Charleston. Now an assistant producer on the show, Inghram has continued his work for Mountain Stage while simultaneously building a prominent career as a bassist; working with musical luminaries such as Chuck Prophet, Vince Herman (Leftover Salmon), Joshua Hedley, Catherine Russell (Steely Dan, Bowie), Jane Monheit, Larry Coryell, and Janis Ian. “My whole career has been about serving other people, and other people’s music”, he explains, “And that is beautiful. But there was some piece that I felt was missing as a creative. I needed to serve my own original music with the creation of this album”.
For Inghram, the past is a complicated topic. “Like a lot of my fellow musicians, I spent much of my 20’s partying and generally just made a lot of poor life choices,” Inghram explains. “A big part of making this album has been deciding that It’s not too late. All I’ve got is the now and I’m going for it”. On the album’s opening track, ‘Palisades’, Inghram sings “I don’t want to look back, with the cards laying on the table that's why/I don’t want to go back in time/ I don’t want to look into the future if it’s not stable, that's why /I think the present tense is fine”.
But moving into the bandleader position does not come without its own set of challenges. On one of the records more introspective songs, “Underdog”, Inghram owns his struggle to find his footing with his own work, singing “set to lose right from the start/ what I lack in wins I’ve gained in heart/ once in a while I’ll shout at the gods/ for just enough strength to try and test the odds”.
70’s folk-rock looms large throughout the collection, with a mellow groove rendition of John Hartford’s ‘Back in the Goodle Days ’ featuring Bluegrass icon Tim O’Brien, as well as a Big Star reference on the party track “Same Old Game”. “As a bass player I’m naturally just a huge fan of many different musical styles ” explains Inghram. “I have my jazz personality, my bluegrass personality, and my jam band Fletcher’s Grove. But I’m also a huge rock fan, and I think that’s the element that has been missing for me as a creator and is emerging now because when I do write my own material, I really find myself leaning in that direction.”
Recorded at two different studios between 2020 and 2021, John Inghram, was engineered by Bud Carroll and Justin Francis and mixed and mastered by Francis. It features Carroll and Adam Meisterhans on guitars, Randy Gilkey and Micah Hulscher on keys, and Sam Wiseman on drums.
With a breadth of musical knowledge and experience, Inghram finds his own unique musical mantra on his debut record. While it is always tempting to dwell on the past, or dream about the future, he challenges listeners to move into an existential, yet completely joyful mindset with him, something that will come as a welcome change to most of us after these past years of uncertainty and turmoil. “Now that I have a beautiful family, and life is better than I ever thought it could be,” he says “I just want to make use of this moment and make sure I give everything I have to offer ”.