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John Cate resides west of Boston, MA, and writes melodic songs with a worldly perspective. Born April 11, 1955, in Liverpool, England, to American ex-pats his parents settled in New England circa 1960. Cate began playing and singing at the age of nine after seeing the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. Many boys of Italian descent learned the accordion and that was true of Cate, whose first musical instruments included the bass guitar and cello, along with the air-powered keyboard made famous on The Lawrence Welk Show. Though the accordion has made its way onto some great pop records, it is interesting how, like other guys from his era, Cate wanted to rock. The calling of his musical influences and heroes — the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, the Beatles, and AM Radio Top 40 hits of the '60s — is what led to the mixture Cate regards "a legitimate roots rock sound and style with pop hooks."
Cate's musical career began as bass player with Zamcheck, named after Mark Zamcheck, a successful regional band that toured with Gary Burton and Pat Metheny, played the Newport Jazz Festival, and was managed by the notorious Steve Sesnick, who was responsible for putting the Velvet Underground on tour in Europe without Lou Reed. The six-string acoustic was always at the ready, and introspection won over technique giving way to classic American folk-rock singing and songwriting that marks his style today.
Cate formed his own recording company, American Music Partners, which spawned the Rose Hip Records label, and began putting out his music in 1996. His first solo record, Set Free, was released that year and was heard by producer Anthony Resta, who worked with such acts as Shawn Mullins, Collective Soul, and Duran Duran, among others. Resta introduced Cate to Heavy Hitters Publishing, a company that keeps Cate's five-record catalog active in network television shows like Touched by an Angel, Jack & Jill, All My Children, The Young & the Restless, and many other programs that utilize songs by the singer/ songwriter.
At his record release party in January of 2001 for his fourth album, simply called The John Cate Band, with his friends the Swinging Steaks co-headlining the bill, the band showed a proficiency for combining commercial singalong pop with an earthier, more traditional American sound. It's a nice combination that complements the Swinging Steaks country-rock perfectly as both bands don't get in each other's way, yet provide enough in common to entertain their respective audiences. The two bands tour the U.S. together when schedules permit. It also presents a united front apart from Cate's initial work as a singer/songwriter.
In 1996, he released his first CD, Set Free, followed by two releases in 1998: American Night and Never Lookin' Back, his first with the John Cate Band. After the early 2001 release of The John Cate Band, he got to work on the fifth album, 2002's V.
Cate frequently performs in and around New England, in Nashville, TN, and in the Midwestern states, where he has been named an "Honorary Hoosier." His goals are to have a domestic release with an American label similar to his dealings with Blue Rose, expanding his touring base, and increasing his visibility and presence in Nashville. He writes happy songs and loves being part of the songwriting community.
John Cate's first reaction to meeting George Harrison on a flight to London was: "Man, do you look like your Dad!" who Cate knew from Liverpool. Cate also hosts a monthly songwriter showcase at the House of Blues in Cambridge, MA. He co-ventured this long-standing series with Billy Block's highly successful Western Beat Showcase, which runs weekly in Nashville and Los Angeles, and includes a monthly magazine and nationally syndicated radio show. Western Beat performers have included Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Buddy and Julie Miller, and many others.