Boise, Idaho is hardly the place anyone would conjure up as a hotbed of soul music. But for John Németh, it’s where his love for the genre began—and the starting point for a journey that’s taken him from his first gigs fronting a teenaged band to five Blues Music Award nominations in 2013 alone. It’s where this preternaturally talented son of a Hungarian immigrant gained his early chops on the harmonica, building on the style of rootsy heroes like Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson.
After opening a show for Junior Watson, Németh was tapped as tour opener for the guitar great, a gig that took him across the United States, to Scandinavia, and into the recording studio for his 2004 solo debut, Come And Get It, featuring Watson. When Németh’s girlfriend decided to relocate to California, he knew he couldn’t lose her, so he packed up the house and traveled west. It was an astute move: shortly after his arrival, Németh was signed by Blind Pig Records to a three-album deal. He also earned critical acclaim placing him in, as Nick Cristiano of the Philadelphia Inquirer put it, “a cadre of young and relatively young artists such as James Junter, Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed, and Sharon Jones.”
“I learned a lot living in Oakland and San Francisco,” Németh says, “from recording and performing with Elvin Bishop to hearing Jimmy Hughes perform. Oakland is like a truly southern city, only it’s on the west coast. It wasn’t until after I arrived that I discovered that so many great songs I love actually originated there.”
In early 2013, Németh traded his life on the west coast to settle down in Memphis, Tennessee.
Memphis Grease, the long-awaited follow up to Németh’s fourth solo studio release, 2010’s Name The Day!, embodies everything that sets this artist apart from the revivalist pack: it’s innovative and unique while epitomizing the absolute best of the genre. It’s a deeply forged amalgamation of scorching harmonica-driven blues and sweet blue-eyed soul ala the Box Tops or Roy Head, delivered via two fistfuls of originals and a trio of carefully chosen covers, including Roy Orbison’s “Crying,” reinvented here as a slow-burning soul number that matches anything that came out of circa-late 1960s’ Muscle Shoals.
“There aren’t many soul men left in the world. John Nemeth is one of ’em.” – Esquire
“Applies grit to his voice and even suggests the fierceness of Howlin’ Wolf” – SF Chronicle
“One of the rising stars of the blues world” – Memphis Commercial Appeal
“Stunningone hell of a singer” – Living Blues
“John Nemeth sure has a lock on the classic Memphis soul sound” – CMT
“One of the fastest rising blues artists in a while.” – Making A Scene