On the Road to a Record Contract

By Beacon Staff

Life keeps taking interesting turns for Kalispell musician John Guymon, but like the experienced truck driver he is, Guymon knows how to roll with it.

Guymon recently signed on to Tate Music Group, a record label based in Oklahoma, which means he will record a solo album for distribution through the label. He’s also got a March 30 show at the Kalispell Eagles.

It’s a new step for the 52-year-old musician, who has spent most of his professional life driving trucks.

“Most of my writing has been done in the sleeper of a truck, all over the USA and Canada,” Guymon said.

Playing music was at first a coping mechanism for Guymon, who found himself on his own at the age of 16. He joined the job corps and picked up a guitar as a way to deal with his new situation in life.

One of his directors told him that he could be more successful as a musician if he wrote his own songs, Guymon said, and so he began transcribing his life experiences to the 12-string guitar.

“Everything that I do is real personal,” Guymon said. “Every song’s got a story behind it, actually.”

At that point, the music was for his own enjoyment. But as Guymon kept writing, he realized the importance it has in his life. He released a song in 1999, and joined a band in 2004 that made it several stages in a national talent competition in 2009.

According to Beacon reports from that time, the John Guymon Band was up against some pretty staunch competition, but their song “It Came Out Wrong,” the video for which was shot with a handheld camera at a gig in Hot Springs, became a fan favorite.

They didn’t end up winning, but Guymon said it was still a memorable experience.

Since then, Guymon has been playing some shows at The Symes Hot Springs Hotel, and other campgrounds in the area.

But music has never been the breadwinning profession in Guymon’s life. He’s a truck driver, and has worked for a local company for the past five years, hauling hot oil to places around the state for highway construction projects.

Though he loves writing and playing music, Guymon said the industry’s uncertainties kept him from
pursuing it full time.

“That’s the thing that really kept me from doing any kind of music,” he said. “Raising six kids, I never wanted to do anything that wouldn’t bring in a paycheck.”

The work has been tough at times, especially after a work-related injury with another company in 1998 laid him out for months, Guymon said. The injury, which Guymon said was misdiagnosed until 2006, kept him in bed for long stretches.

During one of those times, Guymon said he went to the computer and looked up music representation. The Tate Music Group popped up, and after doing research and consulting his wife, Brenda, he decided to send the label an email last October.

Guymon went back to work and didn’t think about it again until November, when a representative from the label called and asked for more material. Again, Guymon said he didn’t hear from them for months, and emailed once more to check in after the holidays.

He received a response the next day, which was soon followed by a phone call offering to sign him on to the label.

“It just really blew me away,”
Guymon said.

Guymon is scheduled to record eight to 10 songs in Oklahoma in May, along with partaking in a photo shoot and meeting publicists and booking agents. He’s looking forward to having a real studio experience, one that includes distribution and promotion and possibly touring.

Most of the music he’s recording is political in nature, he said, but doesn’t take one side or another.

“It’s not about money, it’s about message,” Guymon said. “Right now our message is messed up in this world. Everything is so divided.”

And as for the future of his music career, Guymon said he’s not sure where it will go, but he doesn’t plan on giving up his truck-driving job. He also hopes to raise some cash at his March 30 show to pay for his trip to the recording studio.

“I’m going to be passing a hat around or leaving a hat,” Guymon said. “Hopefully I can raise enough money to get down to Oklahoma.”

John Guymon will play at the Kalispell Eagles on March 30 from 8 p.m. to midnight. There is no cover charge.

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