Original Indie-folk singer/songwriter and fingerstyle guitarist - 'Fans of Michael Hedges and Leo Kottke will find themselves right at home.'
Raised in Minnesota on rock and roll, singer-songwriter Justin Roth picked up the guitar in 9th grade, taking lessons from a heavy metal guitarist. As his teacher started playing with an acoustic trio, Justin became more interested in playing unplugged. His path to acoustic music was solidified at 17, when he saw innovative guitarist Michael Hedges open for Crosby, Stills & Nash. He had gone to see the famed headliners, but it was Hedges' music that truly spoke to him. Justin was enthralled by Hedges' expressive playing and inventive compositions and was immediately hooked by this new sound of the acoustic guitar. Justin saw that the acoustic guitar was capable of so much more than he had been exposed to before, and from that moment on, he knew that it would be the root of his musical world. He began experimenting with alternate tunings and exploring the two-handed tapping technique he learned from acclaimed finger-style guitarist and composer Billy McLaughlin. From there, Justin added more layers to his playing using partial capos to create an even wider range of textures and voicings in his compositions and live performances.
Inspired by the singer-songwriters he saw perform in his college home of Duluth, MN, Justin began honing his craft as a writer, marrying his accomplished guitar playing with his already strong vocals. By his senior year, he had recorded his first album 'Up Until Now.' Not really intending to pursue a performing career, Justin was majoring in music business and planned on seeking a music industry job. But following graduation, he was encouraged by his friend Chris Cunningham (of acoustic/pop duo Storyhill) to drive out to Colorado to attend the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival Song School. Keeping company with other musicians, swapping songs around late-night campfires, and hearing stories from other tourings artists, Justin realized that being a touring musician was what he really wanted to do. An epic moment in his young life, it would later inspire the title track of his 2003 release Shine.
In 1998, Chris Cunningham invited Justin to join him on a cross-country tour. While they were on the road, they would often play on each other's songs, working out harmonies and two-part guitar arrangements. One night when they were playing at a church, Justin saw a djembe drum left by the church band. During the soundcheck, Justin began drumming, backing up Chris. They both enjoyed the sound so much, Justin played percussion that night and every night thereafter. Justin has been playing the djembe ever since and has gone on to back up such musicians as Ellis Paul, LJ Booth and Tom Prasada-Rao.
In 2000, Justin recorded a live duo album with Chris Cunningham called '2 Forms of ID.' That same year he released his second solo album 'in between' and contributed four original compositions to the solo guitar compilation 'Lifescapes - Solo Guitar', produced by Billy McLaughlin. Sold exclusively in Target stores, the album went on to sell 70,000 copies nationwide.
Since then Justin has gone on to wow audiences across the country, performing at such renowned venues as the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, The Ark in Ann Arbor and Saint Paul's historic Fitzgerald Theater, home of Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion. He has toured with Red House recording artist John Gorka and has shared the stage with some of the biggest acts in the acoustic music scene, including Shawn Colvin, Martin Sexton, Lucy Kaplansky, David Wilcox and Richard Shindell. A dynamic live performer, Justin has won fans over with his intricate guitar solos, heartfelt songs and spontaneous delivery, often composing songs during his shows with the audience's help. His growing popularity has led to performances at some of the top festivals including Kerrville Folk Festival (TX), Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (NY) and the Rocky Mountain Folks Fest (CO).
Gaining recognition as a songwriter as well as performer, Justin has won numerous songwriting awards. He has twice been a New Folk Finalist at the Kerrville Folk Festival and has won the Indie Acoustic Project's award for Best Song of 2005 for his song 'Shine.'
Justin's new album, 'Now You Know,' which he recorded, produced and played all the instruments himself, will be released in Spring 2011.
AWARDS & RECOGNITION
Songwriter Showcase Honorable Mention - Rocky Mountain Folks Festival (2007)
NewSong Honorable Mention - Mountain Stage NewSong Contest (2006)
Best Songs of 2005 Winner, 'Shine' - Indie Acoustic Project
New Folk Finalist - Kerrville Folk Festival (2005)
Troubadour Contest Honorable Mention - Telluride Bluegrass Festival (2005)
New Folk Finalist - Kerrville Folk Festival (2004)
Troubadour Contest Alternate - Telluride Bluegrass Festival (2004)
Songwriter Showcase Honorable Mention - Rocky Mountain Folks Festival (2004)
Songwriting Competition Finalist - Susquehanna Folk Festival (2004)
Best Song Award Nominee, 'She Dances' - Just Plain Folks (2004)
Emerging Artist Showcase Finalist - Falcon Ridge Folk Festival (2003)
Songwriter Competition Finalist - Highway 61 Folk Festival (2003)
UP UNTIL NOW - (1997)
'Now you know--Justin Roth has come into his own.' - John Gorka, Red House Recording Artist
Artists We Like: Sweet Talk Radio, Amy Speace, Sarah Sample, Storyhill, John Mieras, and too many more to mention...
Influences: David Wilcox, Michael Hedges, Willy Porter, John Gorka, Peter Mayer, Billy McLaughlin, Alexi Murdoch, Bon Iver, Jonatha Brooke