John Hinshelwood BandJOHN  HINSHELWOOD

As a teenager in the 60s, John’s main early musical influences were the BEATLES, BOB DYLAN and many of the American West Coast bands, especially THE BYRDS. He was particularly taken by the singing and songwriting of GENE CLARK, the harmony singing of DAVID CROSBY, and, of course, the big chiming electric 12 string guitar of JIM (later Roger) McGUINN.  The music of SIMON and GARFUNKEL and bands such as LOVE, The DOORS, FAIRPORT CONVENTION and COUNTRY JOE and the FISH also captured his attention, and he became a regular listener to John Peel’s Sunday afternoon show on Radio 1, where many other musical discoveries were made.

After enrolling at Glasgow University in 1969, he made the acquaintance of songwriter ALASDAIR ROBERTSON ( later to work with pioneering folk group THE IDEAL BAND  and as lyricist for CADO BELLE) , who encouraged a somewhat reticent Hinshelwood into playing him some of his songs. He  seemed impressed enough to include one of them, a long forgotten ditty titled “Dreamless”, into the repertoire of his band, The Gathering. It wasn’t long before John was invited to join, and the band played mainly around the Scottish folk circuit,  opening  for many of the rising stars of the folk scene, including DANNY KYLE and BILLY CONNOLY.

By this time John had switched to bass guitar for part of the set, and when the band finally folded a couple of years later, he joined Country rock outfit OUTLAW as bass player and harmony vocalist. The band played mainly covers of up and coming acts including the EAGLES, NEIL YOUNG and POCO, and toured the pub and college circuit in the West of Scotland. Frustrated at the lack of opportunities to get their songs aired, John and lead guitarist JOHN HISLOP quit the band in  1975 and formed BACKYARD BONNIE with guitarist/vocalist DES McGOLDRICK and an ever changing series of drummers.

The project was short lived, and John’s next venture saw him team up with fiddle player/singer ARLENE LEITCH, Yorkshire guitarist/vocalist ALAN NEEDHAM, multi-instrumentalist PETER COLLINS, and American singer/guitarist JOHN McCLURE. WILD OATS played mainly on the folk club scene, which in the 70s attracted large audiences. Before long Collins and McClure sought pastures new, but the remaining trio soldiered on, and with the addition of JOHN HISLOP changed their name to STAGEFRIGHT and enjoyed a couple of years of  success on the folk scene and beyond.

The 80s saw John move back in a more country influenced direction, and stints with bands such as ELVINRIDGE, which featured guitarists TIM BLACK and STEVE CABAN, and drummer STEVE IRVINE, who would shortly afterwards find fame and fortune with LLOYD COLE AND THE COMMOTIONS. The late 80s and early nineties were spent with HONEST SAM AND THE DEALERS which, in addition to featuring some of John’s songs, also highlighted the work of some of the so-called ‘new-country’ artistes such as NANCI GRIFFITH, LYLE LOVETT, and DWIGHT YOAKAM. The band gained a great reputation on the country circuit for their dynamic live shows, culminating in an appearance at the Wembley Country Music Festival, and in 1989 they recorded an album “Out Here Tonight”, which contained four of John’s compositions, including the title track.

In 1992 the band finally called it a day, and John made the decision to venture out under his own name, recording two cassette only albums - “No songs about Trains” the same year, followed by “If all else fails….” four years later. Both featured all original compositions, and John gigged regularly for the next decade with fluctuating band line-ups, in the process sharing a stage with many top names including ROGER McGUINN, GENE PARSONS (both ex -Byrds), ERIC TAYLOR, TIM O’BRIEN, KATE CAMPBELL, and MARTIN SIMPSON. Around this time, John was also  a member of country rock outfit DIRTWATER FOX, which mainly featured the compositions of the late ERNE PARKIN, the renowned Geordie singer/songwriter and former member of ace folk rock band AVALON.

2002 saw the release of John’s first CD ‘HOLLER TIL DAWN’ on the littleroots label, which was recorded in various locations in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Galashiels, Tennessee and California. A mainly acoustic effort, it featured contributions from RAB NOAKES, GENE PARSONS, CATHRYN CRAIG, and KATHY STEWART in addition to band members ALASDAIR KENNEDY,  TIM CLARKE and PETER McATEER. After many personnel comings and goings, the band settled on a stable line up of TIM CLARKE on bass and DAVE CURRIE on dobro and guitar, which again played mainly on the folk music scene, but also ventured into the country and festival circuit.

In 2006, John put together a band called THE CITY SINNERS, mainly with the intention of devising a show featuring the music of former Byrds member, the late GRAM PARSONS. Two of the top players on the Scottish country music scene, guitarist IAIN BARBOUR and pedal steel player MALCOLM McMASTER were recruited along with ace session drummer DICK  DRAKE and bass player TIM CLARKE from John’s band. The search for a female vocalist came up trumps when Texan REBECCA McCHESNEY joined, and the band toured the show successfully round Arts Centres, small theatres and other venues across Scotland.

Rebecca’s decision to return to Austin led to Canadian SANDRA GELLATLY  signing up, mainly on the recommendation of Glasgow stalwart actor/musician ALAN TALL. John and Sandra made an immediate musical connection, leading to the decision to play as a duo, in addition to working with the Sinners. Once again the folk scene proved the main vehicle for their live appearances, and in 2009 they released the critically acclaimed ‘SHATTERED PLEASURES’ which featured all of the City Sinners and TIM BLACK, who also joined the duo for their live appearances.

 

Sandra’s move back to Canada led to John reuniting with New York born singer songwriter KATHY STEWART. Kathy  agreed to join on a short term basis, but ended up staying longer as the band branched out beyond their Parsons repertoire to include both originals from John and Kathy and a selection of choice covers from contemporary Country/Americana songwriters. The band eventually folded in 2015 with the final gig being at the Country Music Festival in Kelso, and the rhythm section by this time featuring FRANK McHUGH on drums and DAVID McKEE on bass and vocals.

 

THE JOHN HINSHELWOOD BAND continued (minus Sandra), with ED McGLONE coming in on bass, Chapman Stick and vocals, joining up with TIM BLACK (guitars, mandolin,vocals). This line up, along with drummer FRANK McHUGH, provided the core band for the recording of John’s third solo CD ‘LOWERING THE TONE’ in 2014 which, like the previous two, received uniform critical praise. A track from the CD ‘What’s left is what’s right’ (co- written with Ginny Phillips, sister of Kathy Stewart), reached number four in the British Independent Country music chart in 2015.

 

John’s main songwriting influences include Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, Guy Clark, Bruce Cockburn, Joni Mitchell, Matraca Berg and of course Gene Clark. He is also an avid classical music devotee, with favourite composers including Sibelius, Shostakovich, Finzi, Mahler and Prokofiev.