Thursday, January 29, 2009

About John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light


JOHN COMMON sometimes wishes he were a filmmaker or a painter, but due to a run-in with his brother's record collection at an impressionable age, he ended up with a bad case of the rock and an obsession for making music instead. He's constantly writing songs... they range from raucous and snarly, to beautiful and introspective. He grew up in Pensacola, Florida -- hotbed for every strain of rabidly fundamentalist, evangelical Christian sect known to man (action) and a surprisingly vibrant indie music scene (reaction). When he was thirteen, he found his older brother's Epiphone acoustic guitar covered in dust in the back of a closet and a light bulb went on. "Writing songs, recording and playing music helps me make sense of things… it’s a habit that won’t go away,"" he says.

After traveling around the country, writing, being in bands, playing shows, and just soaking it all in, he eventually made his way to Colorado. As the singer, songwriter and guitarist for the Denver-based band RAINVILLE, he built a reputation for writing gritty, honest songs and then playing and singing the hell out of them live. Rainville released two albums (COLLECTING EMPTIES in 1999 and THE LONGEST STREET IN AMERICA in 2002) to critical acclaim nationally and in Europe, and toured from 1999 to 2004.

In late 2004 John began exploring different territory. That desire to experiment led him to begin writing and recording a body of music unlike anything he had ever done before. You can hear it on GOOD TO BE BORN (2006) and WHY BIRDS FLY (2007). Both records have earned rave reviews from music press and fans alike, being named best local releases by numerous regional publications and websites. Denver’s Westword called Good To Be Born "A brilliant, extremely ambitious disc... Denver's finest rock recording of the past decade." A year later, Westword said “Why Birds Fly is even more uncommon than its acclaimed 2006 predecessor... it rewards repeated listens even as it confounds expectations.” The Onion described his music as “Raw yet sophisticated pop.”

John Common’s music is difficult to classify and he’s pretty happy about that. He and his new band are working on a new record right now that will be released in 20009. You can listen to and read about John’s entire catalog online at Visit for updated show dates, photos, movies, press resources and his personal blog.


John plays with an incredibly talented group of musicians, artists and friends, drawn from Colorado’s indie music scene. “BLINDING FLASHES OF LIGHT kind of stretches the definition of what a band is… It’s more like a group of friends who make records and play shows together. ” The group includes: Jimmy Stofer (bass), Jess De Nicola Mefford (vocals, keys), Carl Sorensen (drums), Jon Wirtz (keys), Matt Gilliam (trumpet, fleugal), and Wes Michaels (Cello).

The sound they create integrates smart lyrics with layered, artfully arranged music that can pin you to the wall, break your heart, or just send you off thinking for a while. Regardless of the configuration, these artists have an unmistakable chemistry. They are that unique kind of band where each player is a genuinely talented artist in their own right, but when they play together something extra happens. Something larger. "I feel incredibly fortunate to be playing with people who are not only ridiculously good at their instruments, but amazingly creative. The music wouldn’t be the same without the thing each of us brings to the group. I think you can tell we love playing together, " says Common.

Websites & Contact Info

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blog |
myspace |

Press Quotes

2008 Telluride Troubadour Finalist
2008 Westword Nominated Best Singer/Songwriter
2007 Lyons Folks Festival Finalist
2007 Mover and Shaker / Best Local Release -- Westword
2007 Best Local Release -- The Denver Post
2006 Most Intriguing Discs - The Onion
2006 Westword Nominated Best Singer/Songwriter
2006 Mover and Shaker / Best Local Release -- Westword

"John's clever lyrics and perfectly crafted songs are outdone only by his huge and prolific body of work. This guy puts out a solid album twice a year. No wonder his songs are good. He also has a killer band." -- Denver Music Scene, Top Ten Singer-Songwriters

"A brilliant, extremely ambitious disc... Denver's finest rock recording of the past decade." -- WESTWORD MAGAZINE (Good To Be Born)

"Why Birds Fly is even more uncommon than its acclaimed 2006 predecessor...the aural environment Common creates is so sumptuous that it rewards repeated listens even as it confounds expectations." -- WESTWORD MAGAZINE (Why Birds Fly)

"It may seem difficult to imagine a guy named John Common living a highly individual life, but believe it... his creative curiosity and detail-oriented aesthetic distinguish him from the drooling pack of earnest singer-songwriters." -- DENVER POST

"Raw, yet sophisticated pop." -- THE ONION

"Is something really going on in Denver’s music scene? If we need any more evidence that speaks to the vitality of our expanding catalog of acts, John Common’s new album, “Good to be Born” is that kind of prescription...It’s out. And not to be forgotten. " -- SYNTAX

"With all the craft of a consummate songwriter, John Common builds songs that dig beneath thick skins and lazy thinking. He deconstructs them with the abandon of a mad scientist, resulting in a disc that's as rich in texture as it is drenched in tenderness." -- THE ONION

"Every aspect of Common's squirrely melodic sensibilities and unerringly tight playing and production are featured here." -- THE DENVER POST

"John Common has plenty of natural talent. But a more literal interpretation also applies to his latest recording, Why Birds Fly. Throughout tunes such as "Moonlight" and "Unseen Things," Common weaves traditional instrumentation with the sort of found sounds heard in forests at night: the ambient noises of creatures that creep, crawl or take wing. These subtle touches make his work seem natural in every sense of the word." -- BEST OF WESTWORD 2008

"He always seems to have the right words... with a repertoire that ranges from haunting to hopeful, pensive to provocative." -- COLORADO LOCAL LEGENDS

"Far too many performers settle for predictability — but Common constantly pushes himself, his songs and his arrangements onto paths that few travelers have trod. While his work can seem inconsistent at times, even the misses are intriguing — and the high points (like "Moonlight" and the preternatural "Not So Bad") truly take wing. — WESTWORD

"Denver's John Common has cracked the code of modern-day songwriting and delivered us something surprisingly refreshing... "Good To Be Born," is full of energy, passion, creativity, variety, personality and most importantly, sounds you've never heard before. He is a damn good songwriter. " -- KCSU MUSIC DIRECTOR / ROCKY MOUNTAIN COLLEGIAN

"This album portrays a band with the skills to embellish a writer who has a foot in the motherlode of great songs." -- AMERICANA UK

"Common has achieved the musical equivalent of picking up seven tiles in a game of Scrabble and being able to lay down “bezique” on the first turn. " -- FIVE MAGAZINE, TAOS, NEW MEXICO

"John Common has a keen melodic sense and the requisite ability to take the basic pop formula and turn it on its head. The mix of goodies on his new release, Good To Be Born, bring together a host of elements and styles that, although diverse, avoid the abrasion that many artists suffer when trying to blend too much The blossoming Denver scene should be plenty proud to have Common in its quiver of emerging artists." -- KAFFEINE BUZZ

"Common writes a great song just about every day... 'Good To Be Born' is a Matthew Sweet-meets-Queen rock opus filled with catchy songs and layers of clever vocals... Damn him." -- 5280 MAGAZINE

"Common is a gifted songwriter with a playfully weird sensibility." -- DENVER POST

"John Common refuses to cave to category." -- DENVER DAILY NEWS

"There are songs that make me want to drink till morning you see... Songs that make me wish I'd somehow gone home with that handsome stranger who smiled when I looked up from my book... Songs that make me want to be loud and messy and get into lots of trouble, when normally I am quiet and neat and only get into medium amounts of trouble... Songs I've caught myself putting on repeat when it's 2 am and I have to wake up at 6..."

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