Back in the mid-1990s, Fat John and the Three Slims were like any other local band, but with a bit of a novelty because, though they played four or five nights a week in bars, lead-singer John Nemeth wasn't quite old enough to order a beer. Now 30, Nemeth is playing some big venues and sharing stages with some big names, but it's hard not to still think of him as one of our own. I caught up with Nemeth over the phone at his home in downtown San Francisco, where he was relaxing a bit and enjoying the 60-degree weather. "I've been in San Francisco quite a bit for the last couple of years," Nemeth said. "But now that the new CD is out, I'm going to have to be leaving for a long time."
Magic Touch, Nemeth's debut on Blind Pig Records, was released January 30 to great reviews, rousing him to hit the road and promote the CD. He and his three bandmates will travel together in a van, following a heavy schedule. "The guitar player has played with Linda Ronstadt, Maria Muldauer, Elvin Bishop ... quite a few heavies. The drummer was with Delbert McClinton, Asleep at the Wheel. The bass player ... he's pretty new, but I like him [laughs]."
I asked Nemeth why he chose to do a CD release party in Boise, and why at Neurolux. "I was having coffee with Curtis Stigers one day and thinking about cool places to play, and I've always dug the Neurolux," he said. "I told Curtis I wanted to come back to Boise some time soon so he called Allen [Ireland, owner of Neurolux], and Allen was game. I like those kind of venues. People can cut loose and have a good time. That place has such a great ambience."
It's clear to me that this local boy has done well by himself, but I wondered if he thinks so, too. "Yeah, it's been a long interesting road. But, I do look back and think, 'I'm a pretty lucky cat.' I feel fortunate that Boise had such a bustling music scene when I first started, and fortunate that I met some of the right people. A week after I graduated [high school], I started my blues career working four to six nights a week in Boise ... I've always been the happiest when I'm singing. I just go into another world when I'm singing. I wouldn't trade it for anything."
John Nemeth CD release party, April 3, 9 p.m., $12.50, tickets available through Ticketweb. Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St., 208-343-0886, www.neurolux.com.