John Egan brings the blues

By Darla Brown, Office of Communications
January 11, 2020

The Arts and Resilience Program brought the winter blues to McGovern Medical School at UTHealth with John Egan, who serenaded the audience with his toe-tapping yet haunting tunes, in the third-floor lecture hall on Dec. 19.

Outfitted in a plaid flannel shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes, Egan performed on a vintage resonator guitar. First built in the 1920s, it has a steel body and an inverted metal cone to produce a louder noise than a traditional acoustic guitar.

“They are called a dobro, or a steel guitar. You can call it whatever you want,” he said.

Egan demonstrated the use of a capo and a bottleneck slide to change the tonality.

“You can make it like someone is almost singing,” Egan said.

Attracted to the old blues, Egan said he taught himself to play and started writing music at age 11 or 12, before he even had his first instrument. Egan said he plays with open tuning, using an open D, and doesn’t use a pick.

“Open chords speak to me,” Egan said. “They are more haunting.”

He performed a song by Delta blues musician Son House, “Death Letter,” and two Lightnin’ Hopkins songs, including “Mojo Hand,” as well as his original music, including “Man I’ll Never Be.”

Egan has recorded seven albums and performs at venues throughout the Houston area.