Blasts From the Past: Farmer Not-So John

Posted by Greg on Sep 3, 2020 in Music |

Long live the cranial jukebox. How and why songs get stuck in our heads will always remain a mystery, but for the time being let’s use that randomness to celebrate a band that never got their due. I am of course talking about Nashville’s own Farmer Not So John. Farmer, who, you say? Please, allow me to introduce them.

Back in 1997 while just a young 16-year-old grappling with the world, David Dye’s World Cafe radio show introduced me to this alt-country quartet. Their self-titled debut on Compass Records garnered acclaim from the likes of USA Today, and of course, yours truly. Anchored in Mack Starks Linebaugh’s sturdy twang, poetic lyrics and sturdy guitars, they released a follow up album Receiver a year later. That album would prove to be their last album on Compass Records and last as a band. While Google sleuthing has failed to find out what bassist Brian Ray is up to these days, here’s what we know about what became of Farmer Not So John.

Dummer Sean R. Keith left Nashville for Wisconsin and is presently a CCM musician, Richard McLaurin has worked with artists such as Iris DeMent, Freedy Johnston, Allison Moorer, Peter Bradley Adams and Justin Townes Earle to name a few. Curiously, AllMusic does not list what he has done since 2012. Can anyone confirm he is still making music? Finally, vocalist Mack Starks Linebaugh released two solo albums and now serves as director of digital services at Nashville Public Radio.

Apple Music compares their two albums to Sturgill Simpson’s Meta-Modern Sounds of Country Music, Robert Earl Keen’s Number Two Live Dinner, Dwight Yoakam’s Last Chance for a Thousand Years and The Wreckers’ Stand Still Look Pretty. All four are solid albums and a perfect frame of reference for the ephemeral career of Farmer Not-So John.

Listening back to both the self-titled and Receiver, it is fair to say both records still hold their own and would make a perfect addition to your musical catalog. Key tracks include the likes of “For You I Will Pretend”, “Paperthin”, “Cradled”, “Pen Across the Page” “Undertow” and “Every Street in Nashville.” But truth-be-told both albums are so good it’s hard to pick a favorite. Give yourself 80 minutes and fall in love with both these albums. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

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