For several years he was a ubiquitous presence on the local scene, playing concerts and hosting a radio show. Since leaving Milwaukee, John Kruth has divided his time between New York, Pasadena, California and Croatia with his wife, painter Marilyn Cvitanic. That is until the pandemic hits. The multi-instrumentalist, journalist and biographer graduated from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1979 and took advantage of confinement to return to the visual arts.
How has the confinement affected your creativity?
Despite the continuing horror of the present day, things have turned out well, in a strange way. I almost feel guilty saying this, but the lockdown has been a fantastic time to finish old projects and have time to write and record new music.
I also began to express myself visually again by drawing and painting a series of Courtyard signs for pandemic times with quotes from William Blake, Dylan Thomas, Michael McClure and Gustav Flaubert as well as various song lyrics and some political slogans.
I display them in our front yard (we currently live in Pasadena, CA) for everyone to see and they are generally appreciated until I painted one based on the “War Is Over âby John & Yoko, which angered some of the Trump / Maga henchmen with orange spray paint.
Do you have a routine or schedule to stay in practice or work on new material?
Coffee, check emails / news, walk the dog, do yoga, then record or paint signs. I also had enough time to finally improve my violin playing. In the meantime, I’ve recorded enough songs, playing all the instruments myself, for two future albums: a song album (which Milwaukeean Jeff Hamilton is currently mixing) and an instrumentals album. It was a fun learning experience. And I had the chance to share this moment with my more than my wife, the wonderful painter Marilyn Cvitanic and our pug, Kooper.
Do you plan when you will be able to perform in front of people again?
Just before this phase of the Orange Nightmare began, I had formed a large improv group called The Illustrious Ancestors with Willie Aron (from The Balancing Act) on keyboards / guitar, Victor Krummenacher (Camper Van Beethoven) on guitar, pedal steel guitarist Joel Martin and the formidable rhythm section of Dave Soyars (bass) and Perry Ostrin on drums. We had played a handful of great concerts in LA, but like everyone else, we were waiting for better days to resume our sonic / shamanic healing rituals once again.
To read more stories from Milwaukee musicians dealing with blockages, shelter in place and more, click here.
To read more stories from Blaine Schultz, click here.