A musician born and raised in North Carolina, John Westmoreland has been a professional performer and teacher for over 15 years. He grew up playing blues, rock, and folk music, and went on to study jazz and classical composition at Berklee College of Music. In 2011 he became a founding member and lead guitarist for the West-African fusion band Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba. As a solo artist, and with a full band, John performs original songs and compositions in a style that interweaves elements across many genres, such as folk, Americana, world music, and jazz. In 2019 he released his debut album, Cast Fire, which has received attention and airplay across the US and abroad.
In recent years, John has undertaken a project to resurrect the music and poetry of his forgotten Finnish American ancestor, T-Bone Slim, a legendary hobo, songwriter, poet, and IWW columnist who was a seminal figure in the US labor movement. After his death in 1942, T-Bone Slim faded into the shadows and was even forgotten by his own family until John discovered an archive of T-Bone's unpublished manuscripts among family memorabilia in December, 2017. Since that time, John has been conducting research, presenting new findings, and new versions of T-Bone Slim’s songs at venues, festivals, academic institutions and events such as the 2019 LAWCHA conference at Duke University, the annual WCSA conference at the University of Kent in Canterbury, and at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland. During the summer of 2021 as part of a collaboration with researchers from the University of Helsinki's department of cultures, John was an artist in residence at the Kone Foundation's Lauttasaari Manor. The residency period culminated with the first ever T-Bone Slim symposium which featured presentations by academics, writers, and musicians at the Finnish Literature Society in Helsinki.
From January 2022-December 2023, John is a musician and researcher on the T-Bone Slim and the transnational poetics of the migrant left in North America research project funded by the Kone Foundation. In the spring of 2022, Resurrection, a new full length album of unpublished songs, with lyrics written by T-Bone Slim, and music composed by John Westmoreland was completed. Stay tuned for release information.