John has been singing and enjoying folk songs for as long as he can remember (which is longer than he cares to remember). The child of camp-director parents, his earliest memories included the songs of Woody Guthrie and Josh White. After an unsuccessful attempt to learn the guitar at age seven, John contented himself with the ukelele until finally picking up the guitar the summer after high school. After a stint as a member of a high school "doo-wop" group, John and two college fraternity bothers at Alfred University (Bob Levine and Mike Weiner), formed a trio soon to be known up and down the fabled southern tier of western New York as the "Five minus Two." ("Get it?")
Playing at local hotels, radio shows and campus functions, and for such diverse audiences as the Hornell Rotarians and the Wellesville Junior Nurses Association, the group hit its performing zenith at New York's "Bitter End" shortly after graduation. Early the next year, the trio opened for the Brandywine Singers at a concert held at their alma mater. Later that year, they recorded two songs for Roulette Records, one of which was a civil rights song called "He Was My Brother," composed by the then unknown Paul Simon. John swears it was released, and has posted a reward for anyone owning a copy.
After the group broke up for such disparate and mundane reasons as (1) one member's having to repeat Experimental Psychology in order to graduate, (2) another entering Law School, and (3) in John's case, an inability to avoid the draft. John (an abject failure at college R.O.T.C.) was somehow commissioned an officer in the United States Air Force. Throughout his years in the service during the Vietnam-era (in which he inflicted casualties on neither side), John continued to hone his folk-singing skills. Both as a single and in a series of long forgotten trios, he played numerous night clubs and folk venues along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, including "Trader John's," "The Gulf Winds," "The Edgewater," and (now it can be told) "The Jefferson Davis Junior College for Women." During this period, John was proudest of a children's concert he did for rural Mississippi's Head Start Program, which was itself in its infancy.
Since that time, John has played a goodly number of public gigs and private parties in and around the New York area, including "Y's," and many performances at children's schools . He has shared the stage with, among others, Happy Traum, Lynn Lavner, the New London Trio, and the Flagstaff Singers. He has played at Brooklyn College, Western Connecticut Teachers College, the summer Borough Hall Concerts, Cousin Abe's, BMW's, the Eastland Folk Festival, a reunion night at the old Loews Kings, the Montauk Club, and (all too many) street fairs. He has twice appeared at the Hurdy-Gurdy Folk Music Society's "Zeke's Place."
In 2002, John was Ron Olesko's guest on the radio show "Traditions," on WFDU-FM, and has had his songs played on several affiliate stations of National Public Radio. John's performance on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Japanese-Americans Citizen's League was broadcast over WNYC. His concert recording "John Sprung...Still Live at Zeke's Place" was released in 2000 on Folklaw Records Â© 2000 and-according to ASCAP-recently went "tin." John's new CD, "'Remember Me' and Other Songs,"Â© 2004 has just been released on Fraternity Records and is available from Fraternity Records, his Website (www.folklawproductions.com), and hopefully at many fine music stores across the nether regions of our great land. Two songs from the CD were recently featured on Walt Graham's "Acoustic Connection" show on Connecticut's NPR affiliate, WSHU-FM. On May 22, 2005, John returned to be the featured guest on Ron Olesko's "Traditions" show on New Jersey's WFDU. He talked about his new CD and introduced some new songs as well.
John is a lawyer in his "day job," but tries not to let it interfere with his folk-singing. He picks and sings in what he describes as "a variety of styles and abilities." His repertoire consists of a combination of traditional and composed folk songs, both funny and sad; union songs, military songs, peace songs, blues, bluegrass, country & western, and a stray pop number or two. He strives to keep songs of his own composition to a tasteful minimum, something his latest CD honors in the breach. All in all, John is an untraditional traditional folksinger. John is particularly interested in tying songs to the periods in which they were written, believing that folk songs provide an excellent barometer of the times they reflect. His goal is to help keep folk music alive, something he hopes "Remember Me and Other Songs" Â© will, in its own small way, contribute to.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Remember Me
2. Bleaker on Bleeker
3. Sweet Lorena
4. Red Sox Lament
5. Meredith Lee
6. Dark side of Broadway
7. Billy Jackson's Birthday
8. Twilight Lady
9. Paying his Dues
10. Nancy Green
12. Lou's Job
14. Lovers Partners and Friends