‘Riverboat John’ coming to museum June 29

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Features Editor

"Riverboat John" is full of it. Full of songs. Full of river stories. Full of anecdotes.

And, he’s coming to Alabama with river water in his veins and a banjo on his knee.

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The "American Minstrel" will bring his unique brand of stage entertainment to the Pioneer Museum of Alabama at 7 p.m. Friday, June 29.

Charlotte Gibson, said having "Riverboat John" Ferguson perform at the amphitheater is a rare opportunity and one the museum is especially proud to offer.

"Riverboat John’s entertainment appeals to audiences of all ages," Gibson said. "Everywhere he performs, he receives rave reviews and we are very fortunate to have him here at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama.

Gibson said it is a rare thing these days to spend an evening listening to the old stories, songs and quips from the past.

Riverboat John’s style of programs has developed as a result of his love of the river and music and his interest in folklore, history and customs.

He is a singer, actor, master storyteller, composer and banjo and period instrument player

"Riverboat John mixes music with stories," Gibson said. "He sings the old favorites like, "Old Man River," "Shenandoah," "Danny Boy," and many of Stephan Foster’s songs. He tells about his relationship with W.C. Handy and Louis Armstrong, and even Tom and Huck. His program has a good mix of songs and stories and will hold the attention of any crowd."

Riverboat John has more than 40 years experience on stage. He grew up on the Tennessee River and receive first banjo at age 5. His mother taught him many songs and he knew at an early age that music was his calling.

He left home during the Folk Revival Ear for Greenwich Village and attended college at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

He combined his travels on the rivers of the world with his unique musical experience with jazz, blue, gospel, folk, mountain, old country, Dixieland, ragtime and traditional music from the British Isles, Africa and the Caribbean.

In addition to riding the rivers, Riverboat John has performed all across the country, including the Olympics in Atlanta, the Smithsonian Theater and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival."

"The New York Times called him ‘a true American Minstrel’ and The Chattanooga Free Press said he brings Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer to life," Gibson said. "To have him come to Troy and Pike County is a great opportunity and we invite everyone to come out and enjoy a night filled with songs and stories. Bring the family and a sack supper and enjoy a wonderful performance."

Admission is $5 and tickets will be available at the gate.