John Moreland

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John Moreland
John Moreland performing during the Asbury Acoustic Cafe series at The Saint (music venue) in Asbury Park, NJ on June 9, 2015
John Moreland performing during the Asbury Acoustic Cafe series at The Saint in Asbury Park, NJ on June 9, 2015.
Background information
Birth nameJohn Robert Moreland
Born (1985-06-22) June 22, 1985 (age 34)
Longview, Texas U.S.
OriginTulsa, Oklahoma U.S.
Folk rock
Alternative country
Acoustic guitar
Years active2000–present
LabelsLast Chance Records
Okie Tone Records
Little Mafia Records
Associated actsBlack Gold Band
Dust Bowl Souls
Thirty Called Arson
MembersMike Williams
John Calvin Abney[1]
Steve Walden

John Robert Moreland (born June 22, 1985)[2] is an American singer-songwriter from Tulsa, Oklahoma.[3][4][5]

Early life[edit]

Moreland was born in Longview, Texas,[6] the son of Robert Lloyd Moreland, an engineer, and Connie May Moreland (née Brandon), a school librarian.[2][7] Moreland's father worked for Sunoco as an electrical engineer, and because of this job the family moved a lot.[6] His was a conservative Southern Baptist family.[8] When he was a baby they moved to Northern Kentucky, across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio. Moreland credits his love for Cincinnati Reds to this time in Kentucky.[6]

When Moreland was 10 years old Moreland's family moved from Boone County, Kentucky to Tulsa, Oklahoma and, with the help of his father, he started playing the guitar. When he was 12 or 13 he started playing with a child he went to church with who wrote songs and inspired him to start writing songs.[9]


Moreland played in his first show when he was 13 or 14 years old.[10] In the early 2000s during high school, Moreland played in local punk and hardcore bands,[11] including local metalcore Oklahoma band, Thirty Called Arson.[3]

Moreland put together the Black Gold Band in 2005, and released Endless Oklahoma Sky on Oklahoma City label Little Mafia Records in 2008. In 2009, he recorded the follow-up Things I Can't Control at Armstrong Recording in Tulsa with producer and musician Stephen Egerton (Descendents, All).

Largely self-performed and self-produced,[12] Moreland produces music that is influenced by his Oklahoma roots,[13] music that is "gloriously and joyfully heartbreaking."[14] Moreland has released a constant stream of records (in 2011 he released two full length albums and two EPs), saying "I write a lot of songs. And I guess I feel like your most recent release kind of represents you."[10][15] Moreland has cited Steve Earle as his "gateway"[16] to folk music. He switched genres from hardcore to folk when he heard Earle's song "Rich Man's War".[17] His father was also a big Earle fan. Other influences were Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt.[18]

Moreland runs his own mail order business and ships his own records (packing the records, taking them to the post office himself) because all of his favorite labels (Ebullition Records, Level Plane Records, Dischord Records) used that method.[6]

In 2015, Moreland released High on Tulsa Heat, his third full-length solo record release.[19][20] It was produced by Moreland and features Jesse Aycock, John Calvin Abney, Chris Foster, Jared Tyler, and Kierston White. The album was recorded quickly and informally over the course of a few days in July 2014. Moreland used his parents' home in Bixby, Oklahoma, as a studio while they were out of town on vacation.[21] A video of the song "Cherokee" was conceived and shot by Joey Kneiser, and features bass player Bingham Barnes. Both are from the band Glossary.[22] Moreland said the song was inspired by a dream.[22]

Moreland participates in the Folk Alliance International Conference, a non-profit folk music conference that is held annually in Kansas City, Kansas.[18] He participated in fellow singer-songwriter Jason Isbell's 2013 national tour.[23]

In 2017, Moreland released his seventh album, Big Bad Luv, on 4AD.[24] The title is a nod to the book by that name by Larry Brown.[25] The record is the first where Moreland recorded with a full band. Musicians from the bands Dawes (Griffin and Taylor Goldsmith) and Shovels And Rope (Carrie Ann Hearst and Michael Trent) contributed vocals.[26]

Performance style[edit]

John Moreland and the Black Gold Band
Oklahoma City Conservancy
(June 14, 2009)

Moreland sometimes plays solo with an acoustic guitar, but was often accompanied by two different bands: the Black Gold Band (now defunct)[15][27] or the Dust Bowl Souls.[8] Though his earlier music was more rock-based, his more recent releases are characterized as being sparsely acoustic.[28]

He is characterized as a songwriter's songwriter.[29] American television host and political commentator Rachel Maddow tweeted praise of Moreland's work: "If the American music business made any sense, guys like John Moreland would be household names."[30] Moreland posits that Maddow probably saw him opening for Lucero, a band Maddow likes.[6] Moreland jokes that her remark was "the first time his dad has agreed with Rachel Maddow."[6] During the summer of 2015, Moreland opened for Jason Isbell, Dawes, and Patty Griffin.[31]

Sons of Anarchy[edit]

Three of Moreland's songs, "Heaven," "Gospel," and "Your Spell", have been featured on the TV show, Sons of Anarchy.[12][32][33]

Personal life[edit]

Moreland is married to visual artist Pearl Rachinsky, who did the album layout for Big Bad Luv.[25][7][26]

Around 2015, Moreland relocated to Norman, Oklahoma but then later that year moved back to Tulsa.[34]


Studio albums

  • 2008: Endless Oklahoma Sky with the Black Gold Band
  • 2011: Things I Can't Control with the Black Gold Band
  • 2011: Everything The Hard Way with the Dust Bowl Souls
  • 2011: Earthbound Blues (Memorial)
  • 2013: In The Throes (Last Chance Records)
  • 2015: High on Tulsa Heat (Old Omens / Thirty Tigers)
  • 2017: Big Bad Luv (4AD)

EPs / Singles / Other

  • 2010: Hope Springs Ephemeral EP (Memorial)
  • 2011: Tear Me Back Apart / Blues & Kudzu 7" (Little Mafia)
  • 2014: Wax Packs 7" split w/ Austin Lucas: John Moreland - "Cataclysm Blues No. 4" / Austin Lucas - "Splinters" (Secret Audio Club)

Moreland also appears on the following:

  • 2010: The Seven Degrees of Stephen Egerton - "Abundance of Fluff"[35]


  1. ^ Carman, Becky (December 19, 2013). "Local band Q&A: John Calvin". The Oklahoman.
  2. ^ a b "John Robert Moreland –Texas Birth Index". FamilySearch. 22 June 1985.
  3. ^ a b Carney, Matt (July 10, 2013). "Here's why you should buy John Moreland's excellent new record 'In The Throes'". The Oklahoman.
  4. ^ Brown, Dave (February 9, 2012). "10 Questions with Justin Orcutt of Okie Tone Records". Oklahoma Lefty.
  5. ^ Martin, Clay Skipper, Matt (15 June 2017). "The New Face of Folk Rock on Why He's Glad He Didn't Grow Up "Skinny and Good-Looking"". GQ.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Gibbs, Otis (March 10, 2014). "Episode 71: John Moreland" (podcast). Thanks for Giving a Damn with Otis Gibbs.
  7. ^ a b Hendrickson, Matt (23 May 2017). "From the Heart: John Moreland". Garden & Gun.
  8. ^ a b Reiley, Rick (July 27, 2013). "Oklahoma's John Moreland- A Man of Measured Words - A Review of 'In the Throes'". No Depression.
  9. ^ Millar, Lindsay; Spradlin, Greg; Camp Friday Films (October 24, 2013). "Live from Fellowship Hall Sound: John Moreland talks about becoming a singer/songwriter, plays '3:59 AM'" (video). Arkansas Times.
  10. ^ a b Brown, Dave (April 17, 2011). "10 Questions with John Moreland". Oklahoma Lefty.
  11. ^ Evans, Michelle (May 14, 2013). "Michelle Interviews John Moreland". Nine Bullets.
  12. ^ a b Gilded Palace (June 17, 2013). "John Moreland - 'Nobody Gives A Damn About Songs Anymore'". No Depression.
  13. ^ Cole, Jer (December 27, 2013). "Band Scene: Tulsa singer-songwriter John Moreland walks alone ... and likes it that way". Knoxville News Sentinel.
  14. ^ "Album Review: John Moreland - In The Throes". Farce the Music. June 12, 2013.
  15. ^ a b Hizer, G.K. (July 11, 2012). "Doing It His Own Way: John Moreland returns with a new chapter in his book of rock". Urban Tulsa Weekly. Archived from the original on 13 August 2012.
  16. ^ Powers, Calvin (12 May 2015). "Ep246 John Moreland writes for the church kids outside the punk rock show" (Podcast). Americana Music Show.
  17. ^ DiMartino, Dave (9 April 2015). "John Moreland Live: All Het Up, Tulsa Style" (Includes video interview). Yahoo! Music.
  18. ^ a b Margolis, Lynne (24 April 2015). "No Crappy Job: A Q&A with John Moreland". American Songwriter.
  19. ^ Danton, Eric R. (14 April 2015). "John Moreland Takes 'Off the Cuff' Approach to 'High on Tulsa Heat' (Exclusive Album)". The Wall Street Journal.
  20. ^ Caramanica, Jon (20 April 2015). "Review: On John Moreland's 'High on Tulsa Heat,' World-Weariness and Clarity". The New York Times.
  21. ^ Carman, Becky (7 April 2015). "This Land is Moreland's: Tulsa's John Moreland opens up on new album". The Oklahoman.
  22. ^ a b Powers, Ann (8 April 2015). "John Moreland, 'Cherokee'" (Music video). NPR.
  23. ^ Wendle, Abby (February 20, 2014). "John Moreland is Nervous" (podcast). This Land Radio.
  24. ^ Bernstein, Jonathan (4 May 2017). "How John Moreland Became Miranda Lambert's Favorite Songwriter". Rolling Stone.
  25. ^ a b Petrusich, Amanda (10 July 2017). "John Moreland's Sad National Anthems". The New Yorker.
  26. ^ a b Spencer, Slaone (1 May 2017). "John Moreland's Feeling Some Big Bad Luv". PopMatters.
  27. ^ RomeoSidVicious (March 22, 2011). "John Moreland & The Black Gold Band - Things I Can't Control". Nine Bullets.
  28. ^ Trigger (June 22, 2013). "John Moreland's "In The Throes" Proves People Still Care About Songs". Saving Country Music.
  29. ^ Hale, Charles (June 10, 2013). "John Moreland - In the Throes". Nine Bullets.
  30. ^ Gordon, Grace (December 23, 2013). "The year in Oklahoma music". The Oklahoman.
  31. ^ Dougherty, Steve (30 June 2015). "The Sad, Sweet Songs of Oklahoma's John Moreland". The Wall Street Journal.
  32. ^ Hall, Richard (October 28, 2013). "Oklahoma musician featured in 'Sons of Anarchy' television show". The Oklahoman.
  33. ^ Hall, Richard (October 30, 2013). "Tulsa musician featured in 'Sons of Anarchy' television show". Tulsa World.
  34. ^ Graham, William Harries (9 January 2015). "Tearjerker John Moreland". The Austin Chronicle.
  35. ^ Brown, Dave (November 12, 2010). "Album Review: Things I Can't Control". Oklahoma Lefty.

External links[edit]