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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Songs from a local troubadour

Aug 02, 2022 10:37AM ● By Kristin Winn

At 88 years old, John Winn of Grand Junction has been busier than ever with his musical career. 

At an age when most have been retired for 20-odd years, Winn is still actively writing new troubadour songs, releasing lyric books of his songs on Amazon Kindle, and providing background information and stories for the recently released book, “Bob Dylan in the Big Apple: Troubadour Tales of New York.”

Recently, Winn released his newest lyric book, “12 Songs from ‘The Old Troubadour.’” These songs, written between 2002 and 2022, reflect Winn’s concern for the environment, global warming, humanity’s ongoing involvement in war, the invasion of Ukraine, and the social unrest in our country. 

Winn’s long musical career started in Hannibal, Missouri, where his sixth grade teacher discovered his talent for singing. His rich tenor voice led him to performing operas in college, then a job with the St. Louis Municipal Opera. After a stint in the Army at Ft. Carson, where he played guitar in his spare time, Winn headed up to the Arapahoe Basin, where he learned to ski and washed dishes and cut wood for Max and Edna Dercum’s Ski Tip Ranch near Frisco. 

He began entertaining guests at the lodge and the Red Ram in Georgetown, which is where he met Judy Collins. That friendship led him to singing and performing folk music in Central City, where Collins also performed. At the time, she was planning to move to New York City to further her career, and she convinced Winn to do the same.

John Winn performs in upstate Maine in the late ’60s.


 In 1959, Winn arrived in Greenwich Village where he performed at  coffeehouses that featured live performers. He played venues such as the Gaslight and Gerde’s Folk City with artists Dave Van Ronk, Freddy Neil, Carolyn Hester, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt, Mary Travers, Noel Paul Stuckey and Peter Yarrow. 

In 1960, 19-year-old Bob Zimmerman also arrived on the Greenwich Village scene, imitating his idol Woody Guthrie, soaking up the art, music and culture of New York, and eventually writing his own songs that skyrocketed him to international fame under the name Bob Dylan.

Winn continued performing, touring the country with the Belafone Singers, and performing summer stock theater in Maine. He eventually settled there and worked in the ski resort industry for 18 years while continuing to write and perform music.

In 1995, Winn moved to Grand Junction with his wife and son. He formed a partnership with Jon James of The Shedd Studio, where they produced music videos featuring Winn’s original music and lyrics. 

Winn’s YouTube channel features over 60 music videos. He has released 13 CDs of original songs. 

In 2015, Winn wrote his autobiography, “This Singin’ Thing,” which is available on Amazon Books and Kindle. He also released a book of lyrics, “Songs of a Traveling Troubadour” in 2020. 

Last year,  Winn was contacted by author K.G Miles, co-curator of the Dylan Room at London’s Troubadour Club. Miles was gathering information for a second book on Bob Dylan, and Winn contributed several stories. He also wrote one of the reviews that appear on the back cover. 

“Bob Dylan in the Big Apple: Troubadour Tales of New York” was released in 2022 on Amazon Books and Kindle with a print edition by McNidder & Grace. 

While Winn hasn’t spoken to Dylan since the early 1960s, he attended his July concert at Las Colonias Park Amphitheater in Grand Junction. He was excited to hear the man that inspired him to write music of his own—and to continue writing music well past retirement age.

Check out John Winn’s books and music



“This Singin’ Thing: Untold Tales of a Traveling Troubadour from the 1960s” on Amazon:

“Songs of a Traveling Troubadour” on Amazon

“12 Songs from ‘The Old Troubadour” on Amazon;

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