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A Barefoot Music Group Review- “If Walls Could Talk” by Justin Johnson

if walls could talk cd art_justin johnson
 
Maestro Justin Johnson’s “If Walls Could Talk” is an intriguing album of engaging instrumental compositions and arrangements with extraordinary layers throughout all 12 dynamic tracks. A must hear that should not be defined by genre alone.
A fellow roots fan first introduced me to Johnson’s music a couple of years ago when he was on tour performing with his Cigar Box Guitars (CBG) in Coos Bay Oregon while also turning his shows into teaching  moments. Educating school children (and parent & teachers) about CBG’s and their relationship to the history of Roots music; keeping an important art alive and thriving with new students thanks to Justin Johnson.  
Whether it be one string or 12, Maestro Johnson is a string virtuoso and he is an ambassador for Roots music.
 
This newly released CD & DVD combination “If Walls Could Talk” showcases the impeccable string musician that Johnson is; spotlighting the individual layers of who he is as a musician, and who he is as an artist. These 12 tracks speak volumes to how genuine Johnson stayed to his own roots (pun intended) on this project, and how true he stayed to the music that unfolded in the Tennessee Braxton Dixon built house where he lived during the composing and arranging of this album.  
The brilliant nod to the stunning voices of each of the instruments Justin chose to use also feels to this listener that he intentionally also stayed true to his signature sound and roots style.
Justin Johnson has created an archive of music history with this album.
Album producer John Carter Cash says it far more eloquently about Justin and his music; “the very soul of America.” 
 
If you’re a lyrically driven music fan who’s not typically an instrumental fan Justin Johnson is going to convert you with his introspective melody lines.
If you are a die-hard instrumental fan “If Walls Could Talk” will speak to you on many levels with the dramatic voices of each string instrument that Justin and album producer John Carter Cash obviously put much thought into choosing.
If you are a returning Justin Johnson fan then you will be happily content with this new addition to Johnson’s catalog. 
 
As is my custom when living listening to a new album I intend to write about I begin compiling snippets of notes. “If Walls Could Talk” struck me right away as being quite special. A repeated note I made throughout the week was referencing the emotional roller coaster this album takes the listener on; each song evoking wonderfully intense feelings of nostalgia, lightness, sadness, mourning and moody
feelings…. just like music is meant to do- just like music should do.
 
The opening track for me is nostalgia in music, captivating me right away with Johnson’s epic interpretation of “Summertime,”
Justin perfectly sets up the stunning ambiance for the phrasing of the entire album with this classic song with the strikingly beautiful unique voice of the 1923 Gibson Mandolin. It’s fine nuances bring a richness of depth to this classic that makes it Justin’s own. The mandolin ‘singing’ the lyrics is perfectly accompanied by a 1963 Gibson Folksinger and “Magic” an upright bass. This is a treasure to any collection of music, it’s also a fabulous crossover for different categories of collections. 
 
Though I could easily write about each of the 12 tracks, I’m not. I don’t want to intrude on anyone’s first listen who may have not yet heard the album. Each listener is going to hear something different from these walls as this music will touch a personal chord in each one of us. 
 
While speaking of personal and again my love for nostalgia in music I want to address one more track.
So many memories are wrapped around music
Track #5 “Wood & Weed” takes me back in time to another phase of my life when traditional country music was what I was being raised on. “Wood & Weed” is definitely not country, nor is it traditional. Great roots music is organic in nature and allows for the listener to hear in the composition that which reaches inside and grabs the individual attention of each of us..I am taken to my childhood with this track.
 
Throughout the album there is almost a mythical ‘poetic-ness’ – for me it’s all about the instrument voices and the songs they sing. Much like a Museum of Art I find myself associating this album to a dream come true for an audio curator of string instruments.
Audiophiles/musicologists like myself however will find this no dream, instead happily we find a reality in our ears when we hear the brilliance of Maestro Johnson perfectly translating the voice of each incredible instrument that he played on this album.
 
*Recording Notes*
Mandolin- 1925 Gibson Lloyd Loar F5
Resonator Guitar- 176 Dobro Model 66
Acoustic Guitar- 163 Gibson F-25 Folksinger
Acoustic Guitar-Martin Limited Edition OM-28WRosanne Cash Signature Model #2
Electric Guitar- Little Crow Guitars Custom “Justin Johnson”Corvinho Model
Cigar Box Guitar- Homegrown Strings-4-string
Baritone Ukulele- Willow Glen Guitars
Upright Bass- “Magic”
 
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the video footage of the recording sessions on the DVD included in the CD/DVD set. I purposely left watching the DVD until I was ready to write and I am glad I did as I wanted to write without any bias; After watching the video I know that would not have been an easy thing to do. 
Following Justin and Nikki for months prior to release they shared so many aspects of this project during the composing and then the recording that their sharing endeared them both to fans,this writer included. Leaving the DVD’ for the last was much like an epilogue to living vicariously through Justin & Nicki over the past several months and  allowed for no bias on this listener/writer’s part.
The music that went on inside those walls is simply brilliant, and that’s no bias. Like blueprints, that’s a fact 
If Walls Could Talk Cd/Dvd available here www.RootsMusicSchool.com
  “If Walls Could Talk” Mp3’s available at all outlets below here: 
 https://www.amazon.com/Walls-Could-Talk-Justin-Johnson/dp/B01J2BT2RY
 
More Justin Johnson here http://www.justinjohnsonlive.com/
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2016

A Christmas Gift ~ Live Performance of “The Angel’s Gift” by Siberian Solstice

 

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{posted originally on Barefoot Music Group}

Barefoot Music wishes you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy 2015 with this very generous gift of Siberian Solstice’s performance of The Angel’s Gift –performed at the Defiance Christian Church, Ohio USA – recorded and produced by Ken Richer.

Feel welcome to share with your family & friends.

 

 

 

 

Band Members:

Dave Coonrod – Bass

Dave deal – Keyboard

Tom Spraque – Main Vocals

Steve Parker – Percussion

Marie Moore – Keyboard

Jeff Montgomery  -Guitar

For more information about the band and their shows: http://http://www.siberiansolstice.com/members.htm

 

“Com’ on Train”… next stop The Trevor Sewell Band

Barefoot Music Group

Barefoot Music’s Exclusive Interview w/Trevor Sewell

Part I of II


Some of the best Blues musicians globally are not from the southern region of the USA where the roots of Blues was founded. Trevor Sewell’s British Blues Band – The Trevor Sewell Band reaches the rocky and soft shores of Blues-hounds everywhere, bringing his fantastic storytelling through his lyrics and guitar.

Vocally & musically I have become a hard fast fan of the band’s.

I find Trevor to be the epitome of a consummate lead guitarist and singer/songwriter. Though I have not had the pleasure of seeing the band perform live (yet, albeit on my bucket list) his persona & showmanship comes across even in his recordings and videos. Trevor’s vocals & guitar chops speak Front-Man without question.

Hearing the rich timbre of a bluesy vocalist like Trevor Sewell is why I like listening to someone….singing…

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What do Howling Dick & Blues Have In Common?

Me… and the LIKE button.   (for two)

Just in case you do not know this gentlemen & his radio show let me happily be the person to introduce you.  I think you’ll ‘like’ his show too.

I came to be a follower of Downhome with Howling Dick because I am addicted to the music genre  of blues & I post blues music regularly on another social media where I was first introduced to his shows. Soon between social media and his show we became fast friends with music being a core common denominator. Particularly blues.

And I want to share.

Yep.

I freely admit that I have had a thing about radio programs, what I thought were of a thing of my past. Back in August 2012 I wrote a piece  called Bus Stop Games: As a young lady my friends & I depended on our local radio station KISN to become savvy music fans.  ( link below for Bus Stop Games Post)

Enraptured by radio shows and the disc jockeys who played the music, my friends & I would speak about the artist, the band, the music itself, and the business. It has been a life long passion. We would spend hours dissecting what we  had learned. Only then my friends and I would create the trivia Bus Stop Game of the week. We learned to name that tune in as little two notes to each. A game I taught my daughter’s to play.

Today I am listening and following a fabulous radio program again.

Downhome with Howling Dick

Thanks to the Internet I am listening to a radio show that I want to introduce my music loving friends to. The show hails from the United Kingdom and comes via pod casts  The disc jockey is Howling Dick;  and the name of his hour weekly show is Downhome with Howling Dick. The ambiance of the show will take you back to days when a radio show was something worth making a date with.

Linked  here is the week of 20 June 2013 show (which  by the way mentions yours truly)   http://www.howlingdick.com/i-raise-my-hat/

Howling Dick’s show is promoted as a Blues genre show, but he admits that he plays what he likes and that covers a lot of genres. The man is a wealth of knowledge about music, and he also has the most unusual & eclectic collection of recorded music in his library I have ever come across. If you are interested in rare and unusual recording stick around Howling’s front porch awhile, you will be pleased you did.

I had given up on commercial radio in the 80’s because the constant commercialism started to really bother my sensibilities. I do not watch television for the same reason.  It was not just the advertisements in radio that take so much air time that bothers me, but  also very much the politics in how music was chosen and given air time for play. The Dj’s were no longer the people making the choices as to what we heard.  In  my younger  years I had the great experience of distributing demo tapes to radio station disc jockey’s to try to inspire some interest & air time in local bands I worked with. It was a fascinating time in the world of music.

As it is today. If you have the where with all to create some good music you can realistically promote yourself  in such creative ways you can become a name for yourself in the industry; thanks to modern digital recording equipment & web sites like YouTube, Reverbnation & Dailymotion to name just a few. And radio programs like Howling Dick’s who promote artists we might not learn about without the radio program & Disc Jockeys.

I think that is pretty cool. Keeping the music where it belongs, with the artists as much as possible..

I spoke to Howling about doing this piece and asked for his permission to link his show. His response is so like the music fan that he truly is when he simply said ” spread the music”

I love that kind of attitude…….especially when it is regarding music.

Thinking  it might be fun in this introduction to Howling Dick and his show to discover a glimpse into how his mind ticks by asking him a few questions. Howling,  a very good sport as he played along so nicely in his answers is a delight. It might also be interesting for you to know he is an unabashed Bob Dylan fan and reputed to have quite a Dylan collection of music and memorabilia.

The interview:

* Do you play an instrument? What kind?  (Tell us about your cigar box guitars you make & play)

Theres a wonderful video on YouTube – Angriest guitar player ever (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8hmi9aEiy4), which most of my family and friends have confirmed is ME! I have a wonderful collection and love playing guitar but truth is, I don’t have that gene where it comes natural. One of the reasons I make and play Cigar Box guitars is I reckon its easier to play 3 strings (its not). I also dabble with banjo, dulcimer and Ukulele with similar poor results but it don’t stop me playin’ em or collecting hem. My wife has issues about the amount of stuff I have!!! Funnily enough, apparently  I am a half decent blues harmonica player which my eldest son Josh says I should stick to but hey! every boy wants to be an axe god doesn’t he?

* You are building your dream band. Who is are your choice of band mates? Why?

Drums – Ritchie Hayward of Little Feat (or possibly George Recine from Dylan’s band?) because he has the groove I love to play to. Steely Dan have a young drummer Keith Carlock with them who is possibly the best Ive seen recently but he’s far too good for me.

Bass -Ian Jennings who I saw recently playing with  Mud Morganfield. He’s a pint sized fella with a giant double bass (HAS to be double bass) and oozes charisma and talent. Sort of bloke Id enjoy hanging out with unlike Sting (he’s too good looking)

Keyboard – Chuck Leavell. Not only because he’s so damn good but for the privilege of playing with someone who’s played with the Allmans AND the Stones. Oh, if he couldn’t make the gig then Clint Eastwood, because.. well, if you have to ask….

Guitar – Oh the big one, too many to choose from so it would it would be my son Josh on rhythm and old mate Phillip Morris on lead who I’ve jammed with for years just so we could share the experience of playing with a great band. (I’d be on harp and vocals that night)

* Name 3 current favorite tunes & artist.

If you’re asking whats on my turntable at the moment

Mississippi Sheiks – Sitting On Top Of The World (Document reissues on Vinyl)

Charlie Parr -Good Friends (Barnswallow)

Going Down South – Big George Brock (It’s on an amazing compilation of American Roots music -More Miles Than Money)

* If you could bring 3 people to my high desert with you who would they be?  Why?

Well, truth is I wouldn’t bring anybody cos Id want to get to know you 🙂 but if you’re asking who do I want to join us for dinner, Id avoid big heroes like Dylan and Neil because too much pressure and I won’t be corny and say the family (who I do travel with) or Nelson Mandela/Barak Obama. 

Soooo…..I met Charlie Parr recently and he is one of the most decent inspiring men Ive met and also a walking encyclopaedia of roots music – so he’d be one. So would be the wonderful Bex Marshall, cos she’s a really good laugh as well as the fact she can play great slide guitar during desert and I suppose my mate Mark because everyone loves him and we’d definitely have a good time with him around. Whatcha cooking’?

My gracious thanks to you Howling.  Soups on!

 

Bus Stop Games:

  http://geetoni.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/296/ 

Signature 2013