by Eric Schelkopf
Kane County Chronicle
They aren’t really from Memphis, but their music sounds like it.
Big Guitars From Memphis plays a blend of rockabilly and country music. “We play some things at breakneck speed,” said John Ivan, lead guitarist in Big Guitars From Memphis. “We keep it going, but we’re relaxed doing it.”
An original member of the power pop band Off Broadway, which scored a hit in 1979 with the song “Stay In Time,” Ivan formed Big Guitars From Memphis in 1988 with John Pazdan. “I wanted to play this style of music, American music, mixing together country, jazz, blues and rock and hillbilly music,” Ivan said.
Big Guitars From Memphis is a band that cannot be labeled easily. Ivan admitted some people don’t know what to make of their music at first. Once they start listening they really warm up to it. “You can see them being won over,” Ivan said. “That gives us a good feeling, to be able to win over the audience, and we’ve been doing for over 20 years”
Big Guitars From Memphis also has won over people like The Who guitarist Pete Townshend, who had heard the band when he was a guest on Kevin Matthews’ radio show a few years ago. While on the telephone waiting to be interviewed, Townshend heard the band playing in the background, and made the comment, “How did those big guitars get up so early and play so well…they sound great!” Ivan was honored by Townshend’s compliment. “When people you really respect say something good about you, it gives you the confidence that you are doing something good,” Ivan said.
Along with playing all around the Chicago area, Big Guitars From Memphis also tours frequently in Europe, where the band has found many appreciative fans. “They really like this kind of stuff,” Ivan said.