His band has warmed up audiences for Vince Gill, Tanya Tucker, Doug Stone, Lone Star and other national stars. He's written jingles for NC+ and Crow seed commercials and has regular gigs with his daughter at regional coffee houses.
No, John Engram doesn't work and live in Nashville. He's a farmer with a reputation for high-yielding corn and soybeans and as a dealer for Monosem planters. But his passion for pickin' the guitar at night after plowin' during the day helps calm the nerves.
Engram, Sikeston, MO, has strummed the guitar and written songs since he was 12. He also plays the keyboard, saxophone and other instruments, and has a collection of 14 vintage amplifiers dating back to the 1940s.
“I've always loved music,” says Engram, whose band, Common Thread, plays everything from The Beatles to Porter Wagoner. “Our band performs a lot of original songs, as well as old favorites.”
His music room includes a mini-recording studio, his amp collection and an array of stringed instruments hung on the wall.
“I'm always looking for different guitars. I have 12 and like to play them all,” he notes. “One of my favorite instruments is a 1935 mandolin.”
He may not be Earl Scruggs, but Engram also picks a mean banjo. His daughter, Elizabeth, 16, has a gift for guitars and other instruments, too. They accompany one another at coffee shops across southeast Missouri.
The sax is preferred by 14-year-old son, Isaac. John's wife, Mary, also joins in on occasion.
“Music is something everyone should enjoy,” says John. “We get joy out of performing it.”