John Hammond: Happy with the blues

John Hammond: “I’ll be performing solo, playing what I’ve been doing for 55 years.” CONTRIBUTED
John Hammond: “I’ll be performing solo, playing what I’ve been doing for 55 years.” CONTRIBUTED

Legend of the genre is coming to Fairfield.

Blues legend John Hammond will take the stage at the Fairfield Community Arts Center on April 29 as part of the popular Fairfield Signature Sessions series.

Hammond is replacing singer Juice Newton, who had to cancel due to a family medical concern.

A Grammy Award winner and Blues Hall of Fame inductee, Hammond will be singing, playing guitar and harmonica.

Hammond is one of a handful of artists who has been in the music business working and recording for over 50 years. Since his 1962 debut, he has recorded with artists including Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Duane Allman, The Band, John Lee Hooker and Dr. John.

Born in New York City, Hammond is the son of famed Columbia Records talent scout John Hammond Sr., but what most people don’t know is that Hammond didn’t grow up with his father.

Many fans might not realize that Hammond went to school in Ohio. After attending Antioch College, in Greene County, on a scholarship for a year, he left to pursue a career as a blues musician.

We talked to John by phone to find out more.

Q: What can fans expect from your upcoming show?

A: "Well, I'm looking forward to it. It will be in Fairfield, and I'll be performing solo, playing what I've been doing for 55 years."

Q: You’ve become a legend at your craft. What do you attribute that to?

A: "I've always wanted to do what I'm doing. I got started when I was 19, professionally. Over the years, things have worked out very nicely for me in a lot of ways. I've had a chance to record often. I've had a chance to work with some amazing people. I've persisted, traveling all over the world. I'm a very happy guy."

Q: You have won countless awards. You’ve won a Grammy Award and you’ve been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame, to name a few. Of your awards and accolades, is there one that is especially meaningful to you?

A: "I guess the Blues Hall of Fame induction was about as profound as (it gets) for what I do. I'm a blues singer, and to be acknowledged like that by the blues community was very humbling."

Q: Your father was also in the music business. Can you talk about the impact that had on you?

A: "My father, of course, was a very famous producer. He discovered a lot of the early jazz giants — Count Basie, Billie Holiday, Lester Young and Charlie Christian put a band together for Benny Goodman back in the day. He went on with his career to discover artists like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Aretha Franklin, and I could go on and on … I didn't grow up with my father, so I only saw him on occasion. I realized the significance of his work as I got older, but I don't really think he had an influence on me deciding to be a player."

Q: Tell us about your time in Ohio.

A: "I go way back in Ohio. I went to school in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and I've been playing shows in the state since 1961. I know Ohio pretty good."

Q: Did you grow up in Ohio?

A: "No I didn't, but I went to school there, and I have returned every year since."

Q: So, you probably have a pretty big fan base in Ohio?

A: "I don't know about that, but I know that I like Ohio."

Contact this contributing writer at gmwriteon@aol.com.

How to go

What: John Hammond in concert

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, April 29

Where: Fairfield Community Arts Center, 411 Wessel Drive, Fairfield

Admission: For tickets call (513) 867-5348 or purchase online at www.fairfield-city.org/tickets. Tickets are $30 for orchestra seating and $25 for stadium seating.

Event info: www.fairfield-city.org/events

Artist info: www.johnhammond.com

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