Joining Chuck Prudhomme in Exeter Courthouse Gallery and Museum’s Fall Exhibit will be Jack Wesley Routh, a Three Rivers resident, whose photographs are found in major collections in Southern California.
Born into a close-knit family of six siblings in the small ranch and farming community of Kingman, Kansas, Jack was set on becoming an artist when he was 12.
But his first experience with music began as a young boy listening to his great-grandfather play the fiddle that he’d once carried with him while traveling on horseback throughout Kansas, playing barn dances in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Jack also listened to his father, a World War II pilot, playing guitar and French harp (harmonica) at local music gatherings.
A friend of his gave Jack a Silvertone archtop guitar and a quick lesson on “The Wildwood Flower.” After mowing yards for the rest of that summer, Jack bought a double-pickup, single cutaway, black and white electric Silvertone guitar from Sears and Roebuck for $75.
“Seventy five dollars was a lot of money in those days,” Jack recalls. “Nobody had to tell me to practice. I would play that guitar day and night, almost to the exclusion of everything else. I was hooked.”
Jack played in various bands throughout Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas. While still in his teens, Jack decided to write his own songs, using his own voice to express his own thoughts and dreams, hopes and fears, putting them to his own music. As he developed his newly-discovered craft, a unique and gifted songwriter soon emerged.
Later, he had a chance to play several of his songs for Johnny Cash, who signed on the spot to an exclusive songwriting contract from which he received his first paycheck as a songwriter. This began a 40-year friendship that only ended when Cash passed away in 2003.
Jack played guitar on several of Cash’s albums and co-produced two of them, earning him two “Superpicker” awards and an opening slot on the Johnny Cash Roadshow. Jack was also recruited to play guitar and tour with “Mother” Maybelle Carter and the Carter Family.
His songs have been recorded by Randy Sharp, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, J.C. Crowley, Karen Brooks, Kenny Rogers, Michael McDonald, and Willie Nelson, as well as Reba McEntire, Tanya Tucker, Marty Stuart, Amy Holland, and Kathy Mattea, just to name a few.
Jack began his photographic career in 2012 when he purchased a Leica camera and had exhibits at the Los Angeles Center of Photography, and in the Leica Showroom at Sammy’s Camera in Hollywood.
His most recent claim to fame is the featuring of his photographs with the Michael McDonald and Willie Nelson benefit recording of “Dreams of the San Joaquin,” including the cover photo. The music was also written by Jack.
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