Written by Elise Olmstead
If you’re feeling like your current playlist has gotten stale and you’re looking for some new tunes with seriously good vibes, you’ll be excited to learn about the band John Welton & The Awakening hitting the music circuit and releasing a new album for your listening pleasure!
John Welton & The Awakening is an Ohio based band making “musical medicine” for your soul with their feel-good jam, folk and reggae sounds. The band began in 2016, solidifying their current lineup in the Spring/Summer of 2019 — rounding out as seven-piece that includes a trombonist, two guitarists, and a female vocalist. They cite some of their influences as Michael Franti and Mike Love, and their music features clever lyrics, beautiful harmonies, and lots of dance-able melodies to keep you moving.
Their debut album 11:11 is to be released February 22nd at a Saturday show at The Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, OH, and the epic 22 track album was called “the work of a lifetime” by John Welton himself. He pours as much of his heart and love as possible on every track, hoping to spread good vibes and a positive message to those that listen. Eleven of the tracks are recorded live at various venues while the other eleven tracks were recorded in the drummer Erik Diaz’s basement (hence the name 11:11), giving you a great feel for both their recorded and produced sound as well as the live connection they have with an audience. Erik Diaz mastered the recorded side and half of the live side, with some of the live tracks being mastered by the legendary “Uncle Don” Leaman. The Jamwich will have a sneak peek of this lovingly compiled collection of songs and an album review for you to take a glimpse next week before its official release on Saturday February 22. For now we asked guitarist and vocalist John Welton a few questions about this project to give you a better idea of their vision and sound (see below).
The album release show at Beachland Ballroom will be sure to refresh your soul in this cold time of winter, featuring support from Erie Waters and live art and flow from the sweet spirits of Anadono. Official merch will also be available from our friend Corrinne at MerchGirl Band Merchandise, so we know it will truly be a family affair of friendly Ohio faces that will welcome you with warmth on this February weekend. RSVP to the Facebook event here.
Brad Kepperley – Trombone & Vocals
Mikial Robertson – Guitar & Vocals
Ryan Mitiska – Keys & Vocals
Jon-o Yowell – Bass & Standup
Erik Diaz – Drums & Vocals
Lyndsey Stropkey – Vocals
John Welton – Guitar & Vocals
How did you meet and start playing together?
I have been making music with Brad Kepperley (trombone) and Ryan Mitiska (keyboards) for many years and in a couple of different incarnations of what this band was to become. In 2019 the band underwent some major changes–as we were starting to travel more, a couple of the members were unable to commit to that lifestyle and gracefully bowed out of the band. No big deal, just the entire rhythm section!
The addition of Jon-o Yowell on bass, and former drummer from Hot Tuna, Erik Diaz, was a huge change for The Awakening. All of a sudden we had a very powerful and dynamic rhythm section dropped from the heavens and into our lineup. Indiana guitar legend Mikial Robertson joined shortly after, and out of nowhere, the music started to finally sound like I had always imagined it. Adding my lovely lady Lyndsey (soon to be Welton) on vocals was the final missing element.
How long have you personally been playing music and why are you passionate about music?
I have been playing some form of music since I was a child. I’d say jamming on the pots and pans and harmonizing with the vacuum cleaner were my first gigs. The pay? The smiles on people’s faces when I would act silly or sing and entertain them. I have always used my humor and musicality to diffuse or distract from tense situations, or to make someone feel better. To heal people and myself of course. So it is the one of the main reasons that I am here on this planet, to make music and share it with others. Bring light to the world through music. For this I am thankful, and quite passionate. Grateful to know my path.
Who does most of the writing of the music?
I do most of the writing with tons of help from the band with song structure and the music behind the lyrics. Mikial, Ryan, and Erik are all amazing songwriters as well, and some of their tunes are featured on 11:11 There will definitely be lots more of their songs in the future.
How would you describe your genre and who are your main influences?
This is a hard one! With a seven piece band, and all of our different influences, we can really cover a lot of musical ground. Some of my personal vocal heroes are Ray Charles, Bob Marley, and CSNY. There is also a big Pink Floyd meets The Beatles thing happening among the band, and a deep love for all things funk and reggae inspired.
The crowd is what moves us the most, so other artists like Michael Franti, Andy Frasco & The U.N., and Mike Love inspire us with their intentional music.
How long have you been working on it and how long was the recording process?
Well, we started this album a couple years ago and had some progress gong on it, when the big lineup change happened. When the new guys came in, and had instant synergy on a new level, we knew we had to start the whole thing over. The idea of a double album had been haunting me for a while, and I was pretty much adamant about it. I knew the album had to have eleven studio songs, and eleven live songs, and that it would be called 11:11
I guess I didn’t know at the time how hard that is! But we have learned a lot about ourselves and our music in the process, and we are super proud of it.