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Morris likes a bit of Hendrix in the mix

Community Portrait
By: Michael Kirby
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Mentor, musician, sound engineer, performer, teacher, band and tone historian, and for a time, music store owner, John Morris has worn many hats in his 40-some years in the music business. His grandmother worked on the Lawrence Welk show, his father was a minister, and his mother had a hit record with the Ink Spots in the ’60s. A positive, engaging, energetic guy, Morris pulls the listener into his musical world with great stories of bands and performing adventures. Morris plays organ and rock and classical flamenco guitar. He sings, writes and engineers music and is currently a member of Code Red, playing locally. Recently out is a Code Red CD for which Morris co-writes all the songs, plays guitar, bandurria and handles the vocals. Nothing new here for Morris, who has been in a band of some kind since he was in high school growing up in Sacramento. The man is polished and skilled at his performances. Code Red throws in some vintage Jimi Hendrix tunes in their sets along with original tunes. “The crowd just goes crazy,” Morris said. “I play the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ just like Hendrix. It’s really a thrill to still be rocking like this at my age.” Morris owns Tanglewood Studios in Loomis. Next to his house he has a state-of-the-art recording facility. “What I’m really excited about now is this renaissance in music taking place in the Auburn area,” he said. “I like to produce the local talent. There are just so many talented musicians in the area.” Morris is a bit of a collector and has amassed a host of vintage instruments, which he uses to help bands and performers find that special tone. “Vintage guitar tones are my specialty. I record these groups raw, using tube technology from the ’60s,” Morris said. A beautiful array of guitars highlights his collection, but other lesser-known tools of the trade are a part of his recording arsenal. Vintage microphones, amps, guitar modification pedals and boxes give recording groups an old-school sound many area artists have been looking for. Amplifiers line the walls of the studio, many from the ’60s. With his older equipment providing a vintage sound, combined with cutting-edge digital equipment and software, Morris covers the bases old to new. “Anything you can come up with, I’ve got,” said Morris. “It’s all tone-driven.” “The Auburn area is like some hip place like the scene of Southern California’s Laurel Canyon in the ’60s and ’70s. I’m just so happy to be a part of it,” he said. Morris and Code Red Experience will perform their Hendrix Tribute at Constable Jack’s on April 16.