Butch Antolini Published

W.Va. Musician Gets 'Mountain Stage' Break


May of 2022 will likely be etched in John Inghram’s memory forever.

Inghram, along with The John Inghram Band, made his Mountain Stage debut on May 1st, fulfilling a year’s long dream for the bassist and song writer.

Inghram grew up in Putnam County and has become a familiar face on the Kanawha Valley and regional music scene over the last two decades. Certainly, no stranger to Mountain Stage, Inghram is currently an associate producer on the show. He has filled in on occasion with the show’s stage band, providing the back beat with his bass guitar.

But just a few days before Mountain Stages’ first show of May, one of the scheduled performers was forced to cancel his appearance and Inghram and his band mates, literally got the call.

West Virginia musician John Inghram.

“The last 20 years I’ve been a fan of this show and just always known what a big deal it is,” Inghram said. “Not only to the state, but nationally and globally, even. It’s such a calling card for our state because it reaches such a wide audience and it’s so well respected in the music business and among musicians and agents and managers, just across the board in the industry. It’s a very, very well respected, legendary program.

“So three and a half years ago, I started working for the show as assistant producer and was always hopeful that I might get a shot. Knowing that I’m capable, and that when the time is right, the time will be right, and I’ll jump on that opportunity. So, unfortunately, David Bromberg had to drop out due to a COVID case in his band, and the opportunity came up about 72 hours before the show and I said ‘Hey, let’s do this.’

“This is what we trained for our whole life for, those moments were when the rubber meets the road you gotta go, so I took I took the opportunity and May 1, 2022, that was my opportunity to get front and center on the Mountain Stage.”

Inghram’s interest in music started early on with a strong influence from his family, first it was in church when he got a real taste of southern gospel. It then progressed into bluegrass, country, rock and jazz.

“My mom’s side of the family’s is musical,” he said. “Church, Southern gospel, bluegrass, country, old time kind of stuff. My grandfather was constantly playing pedal steel in the back room, and flat top guitar. My uncle’s a great banjo player, my other uncle is a great guitar player. My Mamaw, my grandmother, was a really fantastic singer and was well known for her singing in her little community up in Campbells Creek, my other aunt is a singer and we’re all a very close family. Just a really musical family.

“So I was around it and exposed to it at an early age. I started picking around and plunking around on stuff, but didn’t really get serious until well, it wasn’t even serious yet, but in middle school, I joined the band, and I was playing a little trumpet and a little baritone,” Inghram said. “And then I finally realized, well, I might want to get a guitar and I liked electric guitars. So, I talked to my mom about it, and my dad, and said, ‘I think I’d like to have an electric guitar and start learning how to play some of this rock and roll that I’m getting into.’

“I then went to my two best friends; one was a drummer and the other was a guitar player. I told them ‘Hey, my folks said I can get an electric guitar.’ And they said, ‘Well, why don’t you get a bass because then we can start a band. And I said, ‘well, that’s an idea.’ So the bass kind of chose me, that’s my primary instrument, which tends to happen. It’s not the sexiest instrument in the world to some, but anyway, it kind of found me and then I fell in love with it.

“I got really serious about it, stopped playing sports, and just really went headfirst into the music thing. And then at Winfield High School, I got with Scott Woodard, who’s the band director, and he was a phenomenal band director, musician and mentor. The fire was just fully lit at that point.”

When asked about what genre or category he falls in now, Inghram simply calls it his own “unique mantra.”

Cover art for The John Inghram Band’s debut album.

Now, almost three years after going into the studio, The John Inghram Band released its debut album, entitled John Inghram.

On Friday, the May 1st Mountain Stage show airs nationally across 283 radio stations. “A promotional coup,” Inghram says.

“You couldn’t have planned this any better,” Inghram said. “I mean, it’s kind of is one of those self-actualization things where all that work you put in for the 10,000 hours plus and these things kind of just click sometimes. It’s like we were in the right place at the right time. And you’re ready for the opportunity, right? That’s the whole thing, you never know when those opportunities are gonna come up. But when they do, you gotta be ready for them.”