John's mandolin playing started in traditional Scottish roots but, after an encounter with Southern States bluegrass and ragtime, has developed into an eclectic and creative style. The blues took the dobro along and he is rarely be seen on stage without his faithful guitar, dobro and mandolin. He is also one of the few harmonica players to use the standard cross harp to play in the relative minor, giving melodies a haunting, Eastern European sound. He often uses the guitar to harmonise with the harmonica. From their early days John and David Fitzpatrick have formed a strong, balanced and original song-writing partnership, crafting each song as a story (and sometimes more than one) in a nutshell.
After 'In the Family Way'
(1989), 'Fathers' (1992) and 'Mothers' (1994), he has released a solo CD “...living in hope...”
(2007), and 'sleekit slivers' (2014) with his first band in a decade, which has been well received with much airplay followed up with "The Humpff Family - Revival" in 2019.
When not agonising on the right word for a lyric, editing videos, carefully sanding the teeth of one of his many harmonicas to get it back in tune, he will be playing his mandolin fast and furious.