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John Kruth is a singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist best known for his highly energetic “Banshee Mandolin” style of playing. He is also proficient on guitar, banjo, harmonica and various flutes. Kruth is co-founder and the main songwriter of New York-based world music ensemble TriBeCaStan, and also a music journalist and author.
Kruth’s first biography, Bright Moments – The Life and Legacy of Rahsaan Roland Kirk was first published in the U.S. and England in 2000 by Welcome Rain Books. Bright Moments was translated into Japanese and published by Kawade Shobo in 2005. His most recent biography is Rhapsody In Black - The Life and Music of Roy Orbison from Hal Leonard Books, NYC. He is also the author of To Live’s To Fly - the Ballad of Townes Van Zandt, was published by Da Capo Books in March 2007, winner of 2008 Deems Taylor ASCAP Award for Best Musical Biography.
John has nine solo albums to his credit. His latest CD, Splitsville, was released in the fall of 2008 by Smiling Fez Records. In November 1997 Kruth performed at Carnegie Hall as a soloist for composer John Corigliano on the Moroccan folk oboe called the ghaita, commonly played by the Master Musicians of Jajouka. He has also performed with playwright Sam Shepard, poet Allen Ginsberg, Patti Smith, performance artist Laurie Anderson, producer Hal Willner, folksinger John Prine, as well as Violent Femmes, the Meat Puppets, King Missile, Peter Stampfel, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, James Belushi, Steve Buscemi, Eric von Schmidt, Stan Ridgeway, Bob Neuwirth, Die Kreuzen, Cyberchump and members of Camper Van Beethoven.
In 2006, John traveled to India where he studied mandolin and performed with Carnatic mandolin virtuoso U. Rajesh.
Kruth is currently a Professor of Music at the College of Mount St. Vincent. In the past, his writing has appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Progressive, Frets, and Signal to Noise. He is currently a regular contributor to Rave (India), Sing Out!, Wax Poetics and Fretboard Journal. He spent much of his early career in Milwaukee, but now lives in New York City.
- 1987 – Midnight Snack – Hopewell Records (with Violent Femmes)
- 1989 – Greasy Kid Stuff – Chameleon Records (with Brian Ritchie)
- 1989 - Final Vinyl - Chameleon Records - (song Boomerang appeared on picture disc with John Lee Hooker, L7 and Bill Ward)
- 1992 – Banshee Mandolin – Flying Fish Records
- 1994 – Blind Bear - Dupah Disc (song on children’s compilation Shrimp Whistles)
- 1995 – Midnight Snack – Spit Records (re-issue of 1987 release)
- 1995 – The Cherry Electric – Weasel Disc
- 1996 – Toast – Weasel Disc (with Jonathan Segel and Victor Krummenacher)
- 1998 – Last Year Was A Great Day – Gadfly Records (with Gordon Gano)
- 1999 – Moon Dog Girl – Sparkling Beatnik Records (with Elliott Sharp and Jonathan Segel)
- 2000 – Everywhere You’ve Never Been – Label M/Smiling Fez Records (with Frank London)
- 2001 – Harry and Albert – Electronic Music Foundation (song on State of the Union compilation produced by Elliott Sharp)
- 2002 – Share The Failure – Smithsonian Folkways Records (song on Fast Folk compilation)
- 2004 – Songs from the Windy Attic – Smiling Fez Records
- 2007 - Eva Destruction - Crustacean Records (with members of Violent Femmes, Plasticland and Die Kreuzen)
- 2008 - Splitsville - Sonic Impressions of Croatia (with Matt Darriau, Jonathan Segel and Victor Krummenacher) - Smiling Fez Records
- 2015 - The Drunken Wind of Life - The Song/Poems of Tin Ujevic(with Miroslav and Gordana Evacic and Jonathan Segel and Victor Krummenacher)- Smiling Fez Records
John Kruth has appeared on recordings by James "Blood" Ulmer, Sex Mob, Reptile Palace Orchestra, Lambchop, Die Kreuzen, Tiny Lights, Brian Ritchie, Gideon Freudmann, Christine Lavin, Lillie Palmer, Rod Mac Donald and The Mercy Seat.
- 2015 - This Bird Has Flown - The Enduring Beauty of Rubber Soul - 50 Years On- Hal Leonard Books, NYC
- 2013 - Rhapsody In Black - The Life and Music of Roy Orbison - Hal Leonard Books, NYC
- 2007 - To Live's To Fly -The Ballad of the Late, Great Townes Van Zandt - Da Capo Books, NYC. 236 pages. Winner of 2008 Deems Taylor ASCAP Award for Best Musical Biography
- 2005 - Bright Moments – The Life and Legacy of Rahsaan Roland Kirk – Japanese edition published by Kawade Shobo Shinsha, Tokyo, Japan. 400 pages.
- 2000 – Bright Moments – The Life and Legacy of Rahsaan Roland Kirk - Welcome Rain Books, NYC. 400 pages.
Poetry and Short Prose include
- 1992 – "Like Jazz" – Spanfeller Press (illustrated by Joe Ciardiello)
- 1992 – "Little Bullets" – Barefoot Press (illustrated by Marvin Hill)
- 1989 – "The Bayou Stomp" – Jackalope Press (illustrated by Marvin Hill)
- 1989 – "The Horrorscope" – Jackalope Press (with collages by the author)
- 1988 – "The Perfumed Firecracker" – Jackalope Press (illustrated by Lane Smith)
- 1986 – "Bed Crumbs" – Jackalope Press (illustrated by Gary Panter)
- 1984 – "Exorcises" – Jackalope Press (illustrated by Henrik Drescher)
- 1983 – "Modern Heaven" – Jackalope Press (illustrated by Randall Enos)
- "John Kruth, Author of Bright Moments, The Life and Legacy of Rahsaan Roland Kirk". jerryjazzmusician.com. Jerry Jazz Musician. Retrieved October 8, 2015.
In our exclusive interview, biographer John Kruth discusses Kirk's remarkable life and those he touched.
- Seida, Linda. "Biography: John Kruth". AMG. Retrieved 19 May 2010.