By Kelly Baughman
John Joiner’s songs are as lovable as his laid back personality, and his picking skills are enough to leave you dumbfounded. When watching him play, his fingers fly over the strings at a feverous pace, and his soulful voice fills up a room like the warmth from a campfire.
Originally from Mobile, Joiner said he can’t remember a time when he didn’t have a guitar in his hands. “I’m pretty sure I had a guitar in my playpen,” Joiner jokes. A natural born musician, Joiner said it didn’t take long for him to figure out that music was going to be in his life for the long-haul.
“My cousin was a drummer in the Air Force Band, and taught me how to hold the guitar and showed me a few things. By the time I was 2 or three, I was already playing songs with three chords,” he recalled.
Joiner said his musical influences are vast, but remembers his love of the horn section in his mother’s favorite tracks by Glenn Miller and the soulful sounds in his father’s favorites by Hank Snow, Ray Charles, and Hank Williams the most. “It was my Dad’s love for Chet Atkins that made me want to learn to fingerpick. We would listen to him when I was growing up, and I felt like I could teach myself to do that, so I did,” he said.
Joiner said that he’s never had a lesson in his life and feels that his knack for the strings is a gift from God. “I’m thankful to have been given the ability to learn to play the way I do, and I knew early in my life that I wasn’t going to waste that talent,” he said.
By the time he was 12 years old, Joiner was writing his own songs and playing in clubs and VFW halls all over the Gulf Coast. “I’d play for 45 minutes, then have to go sit in the car because I was allowed to be on stage during my set, but I wasn’t old enough to take my breaks inside,” Joiner recalled. Joiner picked on the banjo and guitar, playing with greats like Hank Laughlin, making a whopping $26.50 a night. “I was a kid, and I thought I was rich,” Joiner laughed.
Joiner went on to form The Dixie Flyers with fellow songwriters Sonny Throckmorton, Bruce Channel, Darryl Roberts, and Rock Killough. “We hit the road together on a Rodeo tour. It was there that I really learned the most. Both about music and about life,” Joiner said. “That was a really good time, just traveling and playing music every day. But I won’t get into the details. Just know we had a blast together doing what we all loved.”
In his music career that spans more than four decades, Joiner has shared the stage with such greats as Rodney Crowell, John Anderson, .38 Special, ZZ Top, Willie Nelson and more. He has also co-written hits with Mickey Newbury, Hank Cochran, Bo Roberts, and Larry Butler, just to name a few. His latest song is set to be recorded by Blake Shelton and Sonny Throckmorton in Nashville sometime this summer.
And after all these years, Joiner said that making music is still what he loves. “My daddy used to always use that old saying that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Well, I have found that to be true. I still love writing and playing music. It’s the best job in the world,” he said.
Joiner said he’s just a regular, hardworking, stand-up kind of guy, and people might be surprised to hear that he’s a master woodworker and cabinetry maker. “I know that sounds kind of crazy for a guy who needs all of his fingers to play music to be around saws all the time, but I guess I like living on the wild side,” he said with a smile.
If he makes cabinetry as well as he bends a melody and the strings, then we’re pretty sure there’s not a thing John Joiner can’t do.
To see Joiner live, catch him at Hub Stacey’s every Wednesday with Darryl Roberts and Sunday with Nick Branch, or check PK Live’s live music lineup at www.perdidokeylive.com to catch Joiner at other venues like Franco’s, Tacky Jacks, the Sunset Cork Room, The Flora-Bama, and more.