Recommended: John (Leon) Magnie, Joe Kissell

John Magnie is a NOCO music master (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)



Tim Van Schmidt | New SCENE


I met John Magnie shortly after the subdudes moved to town. I contacted him in early 1988 because I had heard of the great new group he was in and I wanted to know more.

Little did I know, but I was meeting the “Leon Russell of Colorado”.

Leon Russell, of course, was a hitmaker in his own right, but was also a restless keyboardist and vocalist, seeking out great musicians for each new project. That’s what I think Magnie has done throughout his career — surround himself with fine musicians and then get right into the middle of it with his own rootsy sound.

Maestro John Magnie’s new Blues Circus plays Loveland’s Rialto November 12 (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Let’s get back to that first meeting — Magnie, an accomplished keyboardist, accordionist, songwriter, and vocalist, supplied me with not only the first subdudes cassette but also a copy of his own album, “Now Appearing”, a vinyl LP release on New Orleans label Rabadash Records.

I reviewed it in the local press: “‘Now Appearing’ is sweet and soulful. Recorded live at New Orleans’ landmark club Tipitina’s, the album features music that ranges from gospel and tender, meaningful soul to ragtime boogie and full stride rock ‘n’ roll. Magnie is joined on ‘Now Appearing’ by the cream of contemporary New Orleans musicians.”

Joe Kissell’s new CD is Imagination (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Even then it was clear, Magnie was a natural-born music maker — and a leader.

Soon after that, the subdudes were “discovered” and they were on their way to a globe-trotting experience. But it seemed like every time Magnie came back to Fort Collins in between tours, he was always up to some kind of musical mischief with the best of Colorado players. 

There were the Parlor Sessions recordings — released on three cassettes and packed with originals by excellent NOCO songwriters — produced in Magnie’s living room. There were other area gigging groups like Pitch and Polecat, Circus Morales, Magpie, 3 Twins, and 3 Twins Broadband.

Blues Circus- Lionel Young (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Through it all — including his tenure with the subdudes — Magnie has always leant a distinctive musical touch to everything he plays. That’s the mark of musical mastery.

In 2022, the project is the Blues Circus. There’s nothing more rootsy than the blues and Magnie has assembled a supergroup of regional players that just kick butt using blues favorites as a springboard to a rocking good time.

Let’s talk about these great musicians. They include Steve Amedee — Magnie’s subdudes band mate — on drums, Lionel Young on guitar and violin, Eric Thorin on stand-up bass, four vocalists including Erica Brown, Merrian Johnson, Diana Castro, and Peaches Embry, with Greta Cornett and Phoung Nguyen on horns.

Blues Circus- Greta Cornett (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

The Blues Circus is scheduled for a date at the Rialto Theater in Loveland on November 12, playing live and filming for a new video. See John (Leon) Magnie live in Loveland — and everybody else.

Joe Kissell: Joseph R. Kissell’s recent CD release, “Imagination” is a finely produced record, ably supporting Kissell’s personal musical style. But it is what he is singing about that makes me pay attention.

Blues Circus- Erica Brown (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

Like a long line of musicians before him, including the revered folkie Pete Seeger, Kissell mixes his music with social commentary. In between more intimate material, Kissell doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to issues like climate change, immigration, war, greed, and industry. Songs like “Only for Their Money and Gold” and “Poison Soup” don’t mince words.

“Imagination” features guest artists such as David Short on cello. Guess who else is a guest artist? That would be John Magnie on accordion.

Visit “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt” on YouTube.

Magnie at the keys with 3 Twins (Photo by Tim Van Schmidt)

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