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a POST Card from John Flynn

The release concert for the new CD, Mercy,
will take place on August 5th at Wilmington’s World Café Live at the Queen. The show will be a benefit for New Beginnings-Next Step.

July 9, 2016

Hi Folks,

I’ve got some great shows coming up in the next few weeks! Thursday, July, 14th I’ll be in Sykesville, Maryland at Baldwin’s Station. The following Saturday, the16th, I’ll be doing an outdoor concert in Media, Pennsylvania.

The following week will take me to Ohio with stops for shows in Montpelier and Lakeside Chautauqua. Information on these and other shows is available at –

I’ve included some info about my new album below.



ps. On Wednesday, July 20th, I’ll be a guest bartender at the BBC Tavern in Greenville, DE, to help raise money for my friends at Project New Start – a program that helps men prepare for the job market after being released from prison. My shift starts at 8PM! If you’re in the area, please stop by and say hi!


A well-meaning record company executive once chided John Flynn on his restless and wide-ranging musical journey, saying “You started out as a bar singer turned country writer, but just as you had a bit of early success in Nashville, you veered away and began to put out kids music. Then when those albums were beginning to catch on, you made an Americana CD that went Top Twenty on the Gavin Charts, but you never followed up because it was on to protest songs and folky stuff!  John, you’ve never stuck around one genre long enough for a big audience to find you!”

 On Mercy, perhaps Flynn’s most ambitious and satisfying work to date; the long years of rambling and exploration pay off. Remarkably diverse styles and textures picked up during all of John’s musical fence hopping accompany him home with effortless authenticity as eleven Flynn originals share the disc with two brilliantly rendered covers. Regardless of the stylistic choices over the decades, the quality of Flynn's songs was never in doubt, but on Mercy the arrangements and performances handily measure up.

The opening track, “Standing Ovation”, is a driving folk rock anthem inspired by the retirement of longtime friend and legendary folk DJ Gene Shay after 60 years of broadcasting. The album’s title track was written at the request of author/activist Jennifer Thompson for an upcoming film version of the New York Times best seller, Picking Cotton.  The Paul Simon-esque rhythms on “Mercy” are fanned into a saxophone-driven R&B/Gospel jubilee, as searing and urgently delivered lyrics tell of the profound effect of being forgiven by a man named Ronald Cotton after Jennifer’s mistaken identification and testimony sent him to prison for eleven years for a crime he did not commit.

A stunningly spare acoustic cover of George Harrison’s “I Need You” features Michael Rondstadt (Linda’s nephew) on cello. (As homage to the original Beatles recording, the track’s “vintage” stereo mix pans John and Harvey’s vocal harmonies to the right channel.) “Don’t Just Do Something (Stand There)” speaks to the power of presence in bestowing dignity. It was inspired after Flynn turned down a request for money on the streets of Oakland, inviting the asker to lunch instead. The meal left an indelible mark on Flynn when the young man parted saying “You’re the only one who ever wanted to eat with me.” The song’s gentle admonition is rendered with the haunting pedal steel of Steve Fishell (Emmy Lou Harris, Rodney Crowell) and plaintive harmonic colors of Philadelphian Joshua Yudkin’s understated piano.

”Buffalo Nickels”, an older but previously unreleased Americana composition features Sarah Larson on fiddle and vocal harmony as it tells it’s chilling tale of a desperate family farmer’s surrender to despair. “Between the States”, formerly released only on the live Flynn CD, To the Point, uses a Civil War canvas to beg forgiveness for decisions made and pending, and pulls out all the stops in a  “make Levon proud” arrangement that features Harvey rocking out on -almost- everything but the kitchen sink. Flynn composed “Eldorado” to verses by Edgar Allen Poe that he first heard in a John Wayne film by the same name. The track features John (for the first time) on piano, and draws from classic 70s rock textures like Eagles, Neil Young, and even Led Zeppelin.  “
Soul” is a haunting acoustic throwback in an early Cat Stevens vein about human connection at a quantum level.

 “Get Up (Tracy G’s Last Will and Testament)” references Flynn’s decade-long volunteering with incarcerated men as it shares advice from a friend who was gunned down shortly after leaving prison. The track’s dark context is irrepressibly counterbalanced by Flynn’s passionate call and response vocals, as his bare-knuckled ukulele leads a New Orleans-style parade march. “
If I Fall Behind” is heart breaking “coming-of-aging” waltz that Flynn, a long-time runner, wrote during a cross country race in which he briefly entertained notions of keeping pace with his 27 year-old daughter. Flynn is a staunch opponent of the death penalty, and “Just Like Merle Haggard Said (Sing Me Back Home)” represents a juxtaposition of abolitionist sensibilities with orchestral textures, overlaid on a rocking Americana frame.  The song was penned for Flynn’s scheduled 2015 death row concert at Raleigh, North Carolina’s Central Prison. (Prison authorities would later cancel the performance.) Kris Kristofferson’s iconic early career hit, “Help Me Make It Through the Night” finds new tenderness and vulnerability as a duet sung with Kristofferson’s youngest daughter, Kelly. Yudkin’s admiration for Floyd Kramer can be heard on the cut as he trades old-school Nashville licks with Steve Fishell’s pedal steel. 

“Backstage with the Devil (A Song for Kris)” is based on another classic Kristofferson tune, “To Beat the Devil”.  Presented simply and with deep affection for his longtime mentor and friend, Flynn echoes Robert Frost when he sings “It never gets no easier for a man to save his soul” and shares his appreciation for the humor, grace and courage with which Kristofferson has faced his well-documented memory challenges, and defiantly continued to share his music and spirit into his now eightieth decade.

 About The Artist: At 59, John Flynn has frankly never attracted the kind of attention that support and praise from musical mentors and legends like Kris Kristofferson, Arlo Guthrie and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott might have foreshadowed.  Guthrie picked Flynn to perform with the likes of Willie Nelson and accompany him on his storied City of New Orleans Train Tour after Hurricane Katrina. Elliott dubbed Flynn “the John Lennon of the plasma generation”.  And almost a decade ago Kristofferson cited the younger Flynn to TV Guide Magazine as one of his favorites, saying, “He’s still trying to get noticed, but he’s got a great heart and I really like the way he thinks”.

After more than three decades, John Flynn remains the very definition of the modern folksinger /activist. His songs continue to be deeply personal and heart-centered; while his powerful voice and acoustic guitar playing have maintained the same vital, sweat-soaked intensity that first drew crowds in a South Jersey beach bar. Meanwhile, Flynn’s volunteer work in prisons and halfway houses has led to the creation of New Beginning-Next Step, a group he now leads in Wilmington Delaware (aka Murder town, USA) to help incarcerated men transition to lives of success and freedom. A broad musical palette, a no-holds-barred performing style, an activist’s heart with the courage of its convictions, and the stubbornness to continue making the same mistakes over and over again. Either John Flynn is committed… or he should be!

You can follow John on twitter @singwriter

© Flying Stone Music

Most of this stuff was typed by a songer-singwriter, so please excuse typos and double check all info!



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