By Paul T. Mueller –
You never know quite what you’re going to get at a show by Texas singer-songwriter and bluesman John Egan. A song title might be familiar, but most likely Egan will throw in some twists that make it sound different from what you’ve heard before – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. This dynamic was on display at Egan’s Sept. 11 performance at Cowboy Surfer in west Houston. The 17-song set comprised both originals, including the mystical “St. Teresa” and the melancholy “Looking for a Place to Fall,” and covers, including Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” and Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Once a Gambler.”
All featured Egan’s gruff vocals and his masterful playing on an impressive collection of resonator guitars. Egan plays with a combination of picking, strumming and percussion, often using a slide, and the result is an almost orchestral range of sounds that bring fresh perspective to even the most familiar tunes. One big hit with the 40 or so in attendance was “Down in Houston,” a raucous account of Egan’s teenage years (he attended high school a few miles from the venue). He added a little snippet from a song by hometown heroes ZZ Top for good measure. Another high point was an as-yet-unrecorded “pandemic song” that might end up being titled “Count My Blessings,” with a sweet theme of gratitude in the face of adversity. “I’ve got an old guitar that I love to play,” Egan sang, “and I count my blessings every day.” That’s a nice message after a couple of tough years.