Born in 1943 in Lasalle, Illinois, Joe started playing
piano, guitar and 5-string banjo at age 14.
Early influences started with tuning in to radio station
WWVA in Wheeling, WV and hearing Flat & Scruggs, Jimmy Martin
& Bill Monroe. His mother was an airline stewardess
for American Airlines on the run from Memphis
to Chicago and would hang out on Beale
Street listening to B.B. King and in Chicago
to Maceo Merriweather & Albert Ammons, her
favorite song being “Cow Cow Boogie” by Cow Cow
. She passed her love of blues on to Joe.
college, Joe formed a duo with Eric Anderson, playing as house
band for the Ballad & Banjo in Hyannis Port
the summer of 1962. The following year Joe teamed up with Eddie
Mottau as Two
Guys From Boston, playing ragtime, blues & folk music. Joe
also began writing music, and with Paul Stookey (Peter, Paul &
Mary) as producer they recorded an album for Scepter Records with
John Sebastian (The
Lovin' Spoonful), Felix Pappalardi (Mountain bassist, Cream
producer), N.D. Smart & Sticks Evans.
Two Guys From Boston toured the U.S. and Canada and played
regularly at the Gaslight on MacDougle Street in Greenwich Village
along with Mississippi John Hurt, John Hammond, Ritchie Havens,
Chuck and Joni Mitchel, Johnny Cash and Son House. In 1967 Joe
& Eddie moved to New York
and along with Jim Colegrove on bass and Ronnie Blake on drums
became BoGrumpus. They recorded the album “Before The War” for
Atco records produced by Felix Pappalardi and assisted on drums by
N.D. Smart. In 1968 The group became Jolliver Arkansaw
and recorded the album “Home” for Bell
records also produced by Felix Pappalardi.
the early 70’s Joe retired from the limelight to live another
dream, and moved to Alaska to raise a family with his wife Jean.
He continued to play music as a solo act and write songs.
After moving to Apalachicola, Florida in 1995,
Joe got back into recording and produced two albums of
mostly original material, “Daylight In The Swamps” and
“Beyond Your Best Behavior”.
In 2006 he formed Smackwater Retrievers, playing slide
guitar and singing traditional blues and roots music with his 19
year old son John on drums and son-in-law Jereme Neill on upright
Their first CD “Shake ‘Em On Down” was released in
2007 to critical acclaim.
Jereme got his first guitar at age 5, a gift from his
honky-tonk piano playing grandmother.
With a family of musicians in his background, he grew up in
Alaska playing mostly bluegrass guitar and bass and drums in
various rock bands as a teen. After marrying Katherine Hutchinson, he bonded with his
father-in-law over delta blues, switched to upright bass and the
rest is Smackwater history.
Did he have a choice?
John has grown up absorbing music and is comfortable
with almost any genre.
He played trumpet in school but as a member of Smackwater Retrievers he shows his considerable talent on
the drums which he started playing at the age of 8. At
14 he was in his first band, Adak, and currently in addition to
Smackwater Retrievers he sings and plays drums for Second Story. .
.but that’s another story.