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John Coinman

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John Coinman – Songs From The Modern West

John Coinman’s songs move like the wind.
He is the lone coyote howling in the desert.
He has no secrets.
He knows where the water is.
You have to listen carefully:
Maybe get down on your knees
And put your ear to the ground.

John Densmore of The Doors


A New Mexican (USA) by birth and Tucsonan by choice, John Coinman was inspired by a dusty West Texas town to become a musician. We were driving from Tucson back to Clayton, recalls Coinman, of an early road trip with his folks to his hometown near the Oklahoma/Texas panhandle. Somewhere on the high plains I heard Marty Robbins singing ‘El Paso’. I was listening to the song, looking out the car window, dreaming. The song had a sound that was connected with the land and the sky. Roy Orbison had that same sense of lonesome beauty that I associate with being alone in the wild open spaces. From that point on he was inspired to pursue music.

John Coinman wrote his first song by age 12 and at 17 made his first recording at Norman Petty’s studio in Clovis, New Mexico. The same studio where Buddy Holly recorded his hits. By his own estimate Coinman has written about 400 songs during his music career. Along the way he worked with Dances With Wolves writer Michael Blake, The Doors’ John Densmore, Kevin Costner, James Intveld, and countless other actors and musicians. I spent the 70s in San Francisco and the 80s in Los Angeles, the whole time working in bands, writing songs, trying to sell songs, licensing songs to movies. His partnership with Kevin Costner came after years of struggling. We met filming a low budget movie and he started hearing my music and began coming out to shows, Coinman explained, we were both attending acting workshops in LA and got to know each other better.

As Costner’s star began to rise, he pumped some money into Coinman’s band in the mid 80s. Then one day Kevin called asking me to write songs for him to sing with my band, Coinman recalls. Right before filming The Untouchables, Coinman’s band backed Costner recording a hit record in Japan. The film sent Costner to stardom but the two were destined for more collaboration. Coinman was enlisted to be music supervisor on the Academy Award-winning film Dances With Wolves. John later contributed songs and played a musician in Costner’s film The Postman. In the meantime Coinman recorded an independent record called Man Alive – First Born with his long time collaborator and friend Blair Forward. This record now only exists in vinyl and is a collector’s item. John Coinman recorded his first solo CD, The Man Called Someone, in 1997. The album is filled with evocative border-bred country folk. An Arizona Daily Star review called it …the sort of expansive music one imagines played during the panoramic dreams we have of the South-West, and the Tucson Weekly called it …understated and assured with just the right amount of twang. A second solo CD, 41 Crosses, followed in late 1999, gaining airplay on college and independent radio stations. River Of Fire was released in 2001 to much critical acclaim. In the meantime he was voted Best Songwriter in Tucson in 1999 and Best Performing Artist a year later. His first major European release on CoraZong This Place Ain’t What It Used To Be was a compilation of songs from all three of his solo CD’s.

Songs From The Modern West, his second release on CoraZong, is John Coinman’s newest solo effort and by far his most adventuresome. The album was recorded and produced by guitarist Teddy Morgan, an up-and-coming new producer, who has worked with Cracker front man Johnny Hickman, Calexico’s Joey Burns, Kelly Pardekooper, and Cathy Rivers, a singer/songwriter from Tucson. He has also toured as an artist throughout Europe and the U.S. and released albums on Antones and Hightone Records.

Songs From the Modern West is Coinman’s first solo album to be recorded outside Los Angeles. I really wanted to make a record in Tucson using Tucson musicians instead of going back to Los Angeles to work with familiar faces there. Teddy Morgan was living in Tucson at that time and he and I were songwriting with Troy Olsen. When I heard his production of Cathy Rivers’ CD, I flipped out. It was so simple and beautiful I realized then that here was someone I could make a great album with. So Morgan and Coinman began to collaborate, write some songs, and plan to record. In the meantime Morgan was called to Nashville to co-produce Troy Olsen’s CD. He ended up moving there, so Songs was recorded in Tucson and Nashville. I got the best of both worlds, tells Coinman. I got to record the basic tracks in Tucson with my great talented friend and Bassist, Blair Forward and Larry Cobb on Drums. They have been playing live with me for several years and they really know my style. We also used Tucsonans Neil Harry on pedal steel and Jimmy Carr on vibes. Both instruments were utilized as atmosphere rather than solo so they give the album a haunting sound which I love. Coinman then traveled to Nashville to finish the CD. Teddy Morgan played all the electric guitars and Coinman the acoustic guitars. Some Nashville musicians also contributed. Richard Dodd, who has worked with Tom Petty, mastered the CD. We are all excited about this new CD because it has a very contemporary edge to it in addition to keeping the Southwest feel and imagery.

You wish radio stations had the guts to play this kind of music.....
Mart Smeets - well known Dutch TV and radio personality and columnist

... songs with vivid images, that each deserve to be used in a movie
Country Gazette

Coinman’s music is old and new, timeless and sweet…..
John Doe of X

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