Powell St. John
Saturday, June 21, 2014, 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Lead Belly Stage - Room #333
Powell St John is a genuine music legend, while still managing to be obscure and off the radar. He wrote songs for the 13th Floor Elevator, Janis Joplin, and Boz Scaggs. He also co-founded the classic 60s SF band Mother Earth and was inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame in 2005. He continues to perform his singular, haunting, psychedelic folk, with guitarist Bob Fagan ably accompanying.
Powell St. John's music legacy began in the early 60's performing at local venues in Austin, TX. He was a member of the Waller Creek Boys, a folk blues trio with fellow musicians Lanny Wiggins and a young Janis Joplin. Drawn to the hypnotic power of rock n' roll, he formed his first rock band, St. John and the Conqueroo. Tommy Hall, electric jug player, lyricist and creator of the 13th Floor Elevators appealed to Powell for material. Powell wrote six songs on their first two albums, including "You Don't Know", "Monkey Island", "Kingdom of Heaven", "Take that Girl" and "Slide Machine". Roky Erickson also recorded the song "Right Track Now".
Following a move in the late 60's to San Francisco, California, Powell co-founded the country/psych and blues band, Mother Earth with Tracy Nelson. They recorded two classic albums with the band. Guest performers included Mike Bloomfield, Ben Keith, Pete Drake and Boz Scaggs. Later, Powell left the band in Nashville and returned to Berkeley, California.
In 2005, Powell was honored and inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame. The ceremony took place during the 2005 SXSW Festival in Austin. Inspired by the induction, Powell recorded a double-disc album featuring a selection of old and new songs. The original 13th Floor Elevators rhythm section joined Powell on new versions of his Elevator tunes. Powell also recorded a duet of his song "Right Track Now" with Roky Erickson. It was Erickson's first recording in twelve years and the beginning of his own musical re-emergence.
Since 2006, Powell has worked with members of Roky Erickson's former band, The Aliens, performing lives shows and including annual appearances at the SXSW Music Festival. Rolling Stone magazine's "Rock and Roll Daily Preview for 2007 SXSW", listed Powell's gig as one of the "Top 10 Can't Miss Shows". In addition, Powell works with an acoustic trio, with members of the Aliens. In July 2009, Powell released a new album, "On My Way to Houston", on Tompkins Square Records. Its release was celebrated at the End of an Ear record store in Austin, TX and Streetlight Records in San Jose, CA. He also appeared at KPFA and Austin's KUT Radio. Following the release, The Aliens played the Frisco Freakout Show at Thee Parkside in San Francisco. In November 2009, Powell was invited to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to join a panel and tribute concert honoring Janis Joplin. He also traveled to Houston to pay tribute to Texas musician and friend, the late Jerry Lightfoot.
Musician, songwriter, storyteller and often referred to as a "psych savant", Powell St. John has become a music legend. Today, Powell lives happily with his wonderful wife, Toby, in Northern California and enjoys time spent with his family. In his spare time, he pursues his love of art creating a variety of unique pieces utilizing a variety of mediums. His passion for writing music continues as well as the joy of performing for live audiences.