A successful roots-rock musician, John Butler has come a long way since his days as a busker on the streets of western Australia. He now fronts the award-winning, multiplatinum John Butler Trio.
Butler began playing guitar when he was 16, and could still only play a few chords by the time he turned 21. Then, he discovered open tuning, and his playing rapidly progressed. Instead of holding down a chord with the left hand, he says he strummed the guitar "open."
At the time, he was studying to become an art teacher, but he left to busk next to a fruit-and-vegetable stall at a nearby market.
When Butler first started busking, the fingerpicking wore his fingertips raw. But after admiring the long, carefully manicured fingernails of a fellow guitarist, he found a solution to the problem: Butler went to the beauty shop and got his nails done. Nowadays, he does them himself.
"I've got fingernails that would make a vampire jealous," he says.
An Arts Activist
Butler funds an arts program called The Seed. He started it with his wife five years ago to contribute to artist development and help emerging artists ir progress.
"We help people record an album or pay for the funding for advertising or help them with a photo exhibition," Butler says. "Throughout the years, we've been a part of many great projects."
The John Butler Trio's latest single — "One Way Road," from the band's fifth album, April Uprising — landed atop the Australian singles chart. With all of his success, Butler says he feels grateful for his good fortune.
"I'm able to pay the rent and feed my family through my art, and people around the world love it," he says. "That's a rare and beautiful thing."