Rock ‘n’ roll teacher performs in Clovis

Bovina High School music director, John Steinhardt will perform in Clovis as Schizoid Johnny, Saturday.

By Tova Fruchtman: CNJ staff writer

After more than 20 years of touring as Schizoid Johnny, a one-man band, John Steinhardt became a music teacher at a school in California.

“In order to do the art, I had to actually get a straight job,” said Steinhardt. “The Schizoid Johnny is an artist. Being a teacher is just a job to support the artist.”

Now Bovina High School’s music director, Steinhardt said it took him 3 1/2 years to write and record the music on his most recent album: “Samadhi.”

“I decided to write a comprehensive show based metaphorically on my life,” said Steinhardt who said he would rather not discuss the traumatic experience that caused him to write “Samadhi.”

Steinhardt will perform “Samadhi” at the Lyceum Theatre in Clovis on Saturday. The concert combines the album and a 90-minute multi-media show into a presentation with a plot similar to a full-length movie: Steinhardt’s alien persona falls to earth and is forced to battle evil in order to return to the heavens.

“It’s the story of good and evil,” said Steinhardt, comparing it to the Biblical story of Samson and Delilah and the idea of loss of innocence that it portrays.

He describes his music as “rock ‘n’ roll made for adults with an adult theme of understanding a concept,” said Steinhardt. “It reflects trauma … It shows the solution … It shows that life is bigger … that you should go further. There’s a higher meaning, a higher calling.”

During the performance, Schizoid Johnny plays eight guitars, three keyboards, a full drum set, a trumpet, a harmonica and sings, while students change slides, man spotlights and trigger special effects.

Isaias Castillo, an eighth-grader at Bovina who plays trumpet in the band, does the lights, slide and movies for the show.

He said he was excited when Steinhardt asked him to help with the show. Following the cues during the show has helped him improve his ability to read music, Castillo said.

“It’s very fun for me,” he said.
The 13-year-old traveled with Steinhardt to Missouri over the Thanksgiving holiday for a performance.

“It’s something you wouldn’t see anywhere, it’s different and it’s just really awesome how he does all the instruments,” Castillo said.

Being a part of a live performance has inspired Castillo to take pride in his own music,

“Just seeing him do it is great,” he said.
The unique quality of his music is something Steinhardt takes pride in, and he said many people tell him he’s created a new style of music.

“Of course that was the intent,” Steinhardt said.

Steinhardt said he hopes the show will help people to unite with one another regardless of their differences.

“I hope that everyone who sees the show gains respect and tolerance of diversity … down under we’re all the same,” he said.

Schizoid Johnny
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Lyceum Theatre, 411 N. Main St.
Admission: $6 for adults, $2.50 for students
Special offer: Free CD for anyone who wears a space suit or alien costume.