John started playing guitar in 1966 and was a regular solo performer at the
folky coffee bars and clubs, singing the popular folk and protest music of
the time interspersed with a number of his own compositions.
A few years later he started playing the banjo and joined an East London
traditional folk group, The Dublin Foire Brigade, performing Irish music and
comedy numbers. This started his love of Irish music, and he performed with
the group and continued as a solo performer at clubs, pubs and local
festivals, until leaving to go to Jhb in the early 70s.
In the mid 70s in Johannesburg he started a group called Strongbow, which
performed regularly at folk clubs and Medieval feasts. The group broke up
when some members returned to the UK, and he continued playing as a solo
performer until 1987 when he met Rael Birns at Buskers Folk Club and
suggested that they get together as his banjo style would suit the music
that Rael was playing.
Their styles clicked and Waldorf String Band was born.
Early influences were the vocal styles of Des Lindberg and Harry Belafonte -
'you could hear every word they sang', and The Clancy Brothers and The
Dubliners helped to develop his appreciation of traditional Irish music - 'I
loved the lyrics and melody, the energy was so infectious, and best of all,
they seemed to be having so much fun.