Friends of Fat Pete
by John T. Davis
Notwithstanding the proud histories of the "Texas Tenors" saxophonists and the twin fiddles of Western Swing, the signature sound of Texas music has always resided in the guitar. From Blind Lemon Jefferson to T-Bone Walker and Charlie Christian, to Eric Johnson, Jimmie and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, the Lone Star State has always been a hot bed of string-bending guitar wizards.
Though he is far too self-effacing to ever put himself in such august company, John Inmon fits seamlessly into that six-string continuum. His peers know John as one of the finest guitarists in Austin, Texas (and, considering the competition, that is high praise indeed); his fans know him as the signature guitar style that has propelled the music of Marcia Ball, Omar and the Howlers, the Lost Gonzo Band, Bruce Robison, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Rusty Wier, and, most famously, Jerry Jeff Walker, for over three decades.
In addition to performing with those artists, John has also recorded with the cream of Texas' singer-songwriter and country-rock communities. His album credits include work with the aforementioned folks, as well as sessions with Delbert McClinton, Robert Earl Keen, Townes Van Zandt, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Willie Nelson, Joe Ely, and even, God help him, Tom Jones. (The Eighties, as John and many others have noted, was a strange decade).
Recently, John has also been trying out the producer's chair. His latest project is Twilight, the debut album by vocalist Caroline Herring.
And although he has sung harmony and lead, and written songs for his various ensembles, there is one musical rite of passage John has never essayed: the solo album.
At least, not until now.
Goodbye Easy Street, a new release on Blue Sugar Records, finally remedies that omission. The album includes songs from across the span of John's career, along with a handful of new tunes. Longtime fans of the Lost Gonzo Band, Jerry Jeff and Rusty Weir might recognize such titles as "Goodbye Easy Street," "The Reason," "Railroad Man," and "Daddy's Money," while listeners new to John's work will undoubtedly find other songs on Goodbye Easy Street that resonate on their personal frequencies.
In addition to producing the album, John played acoustic and electric guitars, percussion, bass, and keyboards.
A Texas native and military brat, John first picked up the guitar in Heidelberg, Germany. A stint in San Francisco found him playing in a surf band in teen clubs around the Bay Area ("We were terrible, but we had a lot of fun…" he recalled.)
Arriving back in Texas in time for the British Invasion, John gigged around for some years until the Texas "progressive country," or "outlaw" country-rock scene began to coalesce in Austin.
John and some kindred musical spirits formed the nucleus of Jerry Jeff's famous Seventies ensemble, the Lost Gonzo Band (and, later, its 1990s successor, the Gonzo Compadres), in the process recording such classic Walker albums as Viva Terlingua, Ridin' High and A Man Must Carry On. The Gonzos even managed to record two albums on their own for MCA Records.
The tales of those years are legion, and some are even true. But John's musical inspiration and enthusiasm never flagged, and he emerged into the new century relatively unscathed, and ready to begin a new incarnation. Goodbye Easy Street is the most visible manifestation of that evolution.
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