by Amy Harris
Renowned guitarist plays the Ballroom at Taft Theatre Tuesday night
Eric Johnson is one of America’s great guitar players. A natural guitarists of sorts, he has been touring since his late teen years in the ’70s and has worked with many great acts from a variety of genres — including Rock, Folk, Alt Country and Jazz — over that time. His Grammy Award-winning pedigree makes him still a very in-demand session musician and his own new takes on classic songs has made him a favorite on the festival circuit.
Johnson brings his unique stylings to the Ballroom at the Taft Theatre in Cincinnati on Tuesday night. (Find tickets/more info here.) This is a can’t-miss show, for guitar fans in particular.
CityBeat: Do you have a favorite guitar that you play?
Eric Johnson: Yes, I have an old Fender Stratocaster that I play a whole lot. It’s probably my favorite guitar.
CB: Is it always with you?
EJ: It is pretty much. Sometimes I’ll tour without it and use other stuff. Also I worked with Fender and designed my own signature guitar so I use that a lot too.
CB: What’s the longest you have ever gone without playing guitar?
EJ: I don’t know, maybe a couple weeks.
CB: What do you think the best guitar solo of all time?
EJ: That would be really tough to say. Probably something musical and interesting to listen to over and over. Maybe something by Jimi Hendrix like “May This Be Love.” I wouldn’t say it’s the best guitar solo ever, but it comes to mind as a really wonderful solo.
CB: Johnny Winter, your fellow Texan, just passed away. Do you have any thoughts about him or fond memories?
EJ: I got to meet him when I was a teenager and he was always really nice and complimentary to me. I was really surprised to hear that he had passed away because I had heard that he was doing a lot better and (was) healthy and on the upswing. It came as a sad surprise.
CB: I had just seen him at JazzFest in New Orleans in May. He played great and looked healthy. I was shocked as well.
EJ: Yeah I didn’t expect it at all because he was doing so well.
CB: Is there a group of people or person that was most influential to you or helpful to you during your early career days?
EJ: Well, when I started in my very early career, Johnny Winter said some nice things about me and that helped me a lot. Steve Morse from the Dixie Dregs helped me out. Christopher Cross kind of helped get things going, and getting to play with Carole King and Cat Stevens — that was a real and official help to me.
CB: It’s so different now for bands trying to make it. Do you have any thoughts on if it’s easier or tougher now for bands that want to play music?
EJ: I think it’s a lot tougher. People are reluctant to pay for music and there are so many bands out now. With the use of the internet and YouTube, anybody can be creative, which is good in a way. If you want to have a career, you have to have something pretty dynamic and unique that is captivating to people.
CB: Last time I saw you perform was on the Experience Hendrix Tour. I have seen that show a couple times. What was the highlight of the tour for you?
EJ: Different ones. I remember the first ones I did, it was playing with Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell. Then Mitch passed away. Getting to hang out with Billy Cox is really a great thing. I liked Doyle Bramhall’s set, and getting to play with all those musicians is a treat.
CB: What do you do with your down time when you are out on the road?
EJ: I just chill out or practice or take hikes and explore the city. I hang out with friends or family if they happen to be in the town I am in.
CB: Do you have any Cincinnati stories from the past when you have played here?
EJ: I have always enjoyed playing there. I have a couple close friends from Ohio. I have gone and hung out around the rivers and stuff. Cincinnati has some really great music shops there as well.CB: What can fans expect from your show here at the Taft?
EJ: We are doing a couple re-workings of tunes I like to play. We change them up so much they are kind of their own deal. I have this live record that just came out, Live in Europe, and I will do some of those songs, but I will do some new tunes and some re-workings of old tunes and tunes by other people. It will kind of be a cross-section of different stuff.
CB: Are you constantly working on new music or do you take breaks?
EJ: I try to constantly work on it, some kind of thing, whether collaboration with somebody else or playing on somebody else’s recording or something on my own.
CB: I know you started out doing a lot of sessions early in your career. Do you do any sessions now or work with any other artists?
EJ: Yeah, pretty much all the time. I do one a month at least.
CB: Are there any current bands that you would like to collaborate with or work with from a live music standpoint?
EJ: I’ll tell you a lot of different things I like. I dig that band Explosions in the Sky. I like Grizzly Bear. I think they are great. Tallest Man on Earth is a great Folk singer as well.
Nov. 30 • Ballroom at the Taft Theatre
0 Comments · Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Could there be any unlikelier success
story in music than the pride of Brown County, Ind., Reverend Peyton’s
Big Damn Band?
• Instrumental Avant Metal veterans Earth bring their adventurous, spontaneous Dronecore to downtown tonight for a hypnosis session at the Ballroom at the Taft Theatre. Showtime is 8:30 pm. Stebmo, Earth collaborator and progressive Jazz pianist/multi-instrumentalist/composer Steve Moore, and psychedelic, noisy Doom duo Eagle Twin open the show. Tickets are $15.Guitarist Dylan Carlson gave birth to Earth in Olympia, Wash., circa 1990, and remains the only original member in a band that has seen numerous lineup and stylistic shifts. The group put a pair of albums out on Sub Pop during the "Grunge Revolution" (which they had little in common with), got booted from the label briefly and then welcomed back for three more albums. While Earth's aggressively experimental sound didn't quite fit the Grunge buzz, the group actually used the genre's concept of "slowed down Hard Rock and Metal" and took it to the extreme, decelerating even more and replacing Grunge's Punk and Garage influence with inspiration from avant grade composers and musicians and Carlson's singular vision.Earth didn't survive the ’90s but returned in the early ’00s to start a run that has included several releases for Southern Lord Records, a haven for "Metal" artists on the more experimental side of the music. Earth's latest release is the improvised Angels of Darkness, Demons of Light II, the follow-up to part I (and actually recorded at the same time) which has been praised for its gradual, natural exploration of different tones and approaches. Earth's trippy, glacial sound on Demons of Light II is infused with evocative cello and smoky atmospherics and often sounds like a new slant on modern Jazz, something Mingus might have come up with had he been into Black Sabbath. Here's Demons II track "The Corascene Dog":• Acclaimed by both fellow artists, critics and her dedicated fan base, Iris Dement has been one of the more compelling singers in the Americana movement since she put out her first album in 1992; her mesmerizing voice has a timeless soul that recalls the best early Country female vocalists. Dement's sound has evolved and taken detours over time. After two straight-forward Country/Folk Pop LPs, the 1996 album The Way I Should showcased a Rock vibe and some serious political commentary. She followed that up by collaborating with John Prine on his In Spite of Ourselves album, which scored her a Grammy nomination, but Dement took a break from music after that. In 2004, Dement returned with her first album in eight years, Lifeline, released on her own label after her Warner Brothers contract expired. But Lifeline was primarily a collection of centuries'-old Gospel covers. This year, Dement released Sing the Delta, her first album of new material in 16 years. The songs harken back to that purity of her first couple of albums, but also shows how Dement has matured as a composer and performing. She writes with more confidence and has become an even better lyricist, creating an album that is mournful, poignant and poetic. Dement performs tonight at the 20th Century Theatre in Oakley with The Tillers, one of Cincy's finest Folk acts who are coming off of a successful release party for their recent live album. Showtime is 8 p.m. and tickets are $25-$30. Here's DeMent's "Go On Ahead and Go Home" from Delta. • Milwaukee-based Psych rockers Moss Folk perform a free show tonight at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine with like-minded locals Children of the Emerald Fire. Showtime is 10 p.m. Formed in Michigan in the mid-’00s by founder Andrew James Shelp, Moss Folk entrancingly collages influences into a sound that draws from a wide range of music that could fall into the "Psychedelic" category. You'll hear elements of Kraut Rock, Pink Floyd, World music, Tangerine Dream and Spacemen 3 mingling in Moss Folk's ambient, hypnotic melange and the band has been known to match the lysergic sonics with fitting visuals (from video projections to cameos by various non-musical performing artists). Here's a live clip of Moss Folk: moss folk - red from brownshoesonly on Vimeo.• Tennessee ElectroJam/Livetronica trio Arpetrio performs tonight at The Mad Frog in Corryville. The show starts at 9 p.m. with locals Don't Fear the Satellites. Admission is $5. Bringing their Rock and Jazz chops together with a creative technological prowess, guitarist/keyboardist Alex Mindermann, bassist Trent Little and drummer Wes Taylor have performed with the likes of EOTO, Papadosio and RJD2, as well as at numerous Jam fests across the country. The group's fluid sound and deft use of loops, synths and samplers puts them on par with some of the bigger artists making this kind of warm, spontaneous, beat-heavy Trance/Fusion (Sound Tribe Sector 9, The Werks, Big Gigantic, etc.). Click below to sample the group's 2012 release Triggology, then click here to download your very own copy for free. Triggology by ArpetrioClick here for even more live music events tonight in Greater Cincinnati.
0 Comments · Monday, October 22, 2012
The Sea and Cake has never been too dedicated to any one
concept. Fundamentally, the Chicago four-piece could cozily fit into
your average Indie Rock festival, but the group’s not
really interested in sticking to an aesthetic palatable for just that
by Mike Breen
Local trio and Brian Olive feature heavily on forthcoming 'Alive at the Deep Blues Fest'
Area Pscyh/Pop/Rock trio Buffalo Killers and vintage Rock/Soul/Pop master Brian Olive will be featured heavily on a new live album that includes tracks culled from performances at the 2012 Deep Blues Festival in Minnesota. The three-day, sold-out fest featured 26 bands, seven of which (including Olive and Buffalo Killers) record for the Alive NaturalSound imprint, which is releasing the live set. Alive at the Deep Blues Fest is due Nov. 27 on CD, digitally and on "BBQ-sauce red colored vinyl" (the fest was presented by the owner of a BBQ joint near the Twin Cities). Brian Olive has the songs "Traveling" and "Bonelle" on the release; Buffalo Killers open the album with "River Water" and an epic version of "It's a Shame," which is available for free download. Give it a listen below and hit the download button for your very own copy. Buffalo Killers headline the Ballroom at the Taft Theatre on Nov. 16 with Hollis Brown opening. Tickets are just $8 in advance. Click here for tickets and more details.
Sept. 15 • Ballroom at the Taft Theatre
0 Comments · Monday, September 10, 2012
In 1998, Brooklynite Martin Perna assembled a group of
musicians to play at a Harlem poetry gathering, christening the band
Antibalas, the Spanish word for bulletproof.
by Reyan Ali
Japanese Punk/Pop icons perform tonight at the Ballroom at the Taft
Irony is not a concept usually shared by international cultures. Case in point: cats. The
Western (internet) world shows its adoration for felines by churning
out pointless LOLcat YouTube video after LOLcat YouTube video, gilding
this love with a patina of wink-wink jokeyness, as if to say, "Sure, we
obsess over and anthropomorphize these cute beasts that don't do very
much, but since we're making a gag out of it, it's OK to openly enjoy
it. This is how we've earned our pass."Japan's Shonen Knife, on
the other hand, has willingly dedicated an entire song to the same
animals while keeping a straight face — a move that would definitely
earn mockery if they were an American band.
The 31-year-old Pop-Punk trio's "I Am a Cat" off 1993's Let's Knife
is an autumnal, simple tune where the narrator steps into an astral
"timeless zone" and finds a cat's whiskers and ears. After attaching
them to herself, she observes, "In a moment, I become a sweet little
cat/And I dance on a flying saucer." It's silly and a bit dumb,
of course, but the total absence of irony —especially since this comes
from an underground Rock outfit — is a true gift. Shonen Knife has long
championed frivolous music about frivolous subjects, and the trio’s
childlike earnestness yields great charm.With that being said,
it's somewhat surprising that Kurt Cobain of all folks supported Shonen;
but, hey, even the guy who wrote "Rape Me" needed some relief from pain
and aggression, too (see: heroin addiction). Shonen Knife's tour behind its new album, Pop Tune, comes to the Ballroom space inside the Taft Theatre downtown tonight. Showtime is 8:30 p.m.; doors open at 7:30 p.m. Opening the show is red-headed sibling rockers White Mystery (from Chicago) and Cincinnati greats The Harlequins. Tickets are $13.Here's the video for the title track off of Shonen Knife's new LP.
Night Beats blaze their own trail by following a few already blazed
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Carving your own upward path in the
perpetually congested music biz is an intimidating enough prospect on
its own. Yet Danny Lee — the driving force behind Seatlle Psych Rock trio Night Beats — has
opted to one-up this great dare: He wants not just to create his band’s
own fanbase but also his own scene. Kinda. Maybe.
Aug. 4 • Ballrooom at the Taft Theatre
0 Comments · Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Perhaps it’s too prosaic to continue to believe that Stuart Baker
created the persona of Unknown Hinson for a North Carolina
public access show 20 years ago and thus began his Whackabilly
onslaught of stages and studios. It may be convenient to
imagine that Hinson blacks out his front teeth, glues on some cheesy
sideburns and assaults his audiences with
a raucous musical hybrid of Country and Rock.
by Deirdre Kaye
Up-and-coming Pop/Reggae singer/songwriter plays Ballroom at the Taft
South Carolina’s Trevor Hall doesn’t make the kind of music you might expect to come from a native of the American south. Instead, Hall’s music has a Reggae streak, similar to the kind of tunes he may have heard growing up in the beach community of Hilton Head or later at the arts school he attended in California.If you like Jack Johnson and Colbie Caillat and enjoy grooving to Bob Marley on occasion, Hall’s releases would fit nicely in your CD (or iTunes) collection. His newest album, Everything Everytime Everywhere, highlights everything that’s great about Hall’s music, with 12 tracks of summery, beach-y Pop with undertones of contemporary and classic Reggae.Unlike Caillat and Johnson, Hall focuses on more than just sappy love songs. The love Hall is most willing to write and sing about is love for yourself and the world around you. Hall, who travels to India almost yearly to spend time in an ashram that houses underprivileged children, lives up to Marley’s “One Love” message better that most of his musical contemporaries. Everything even features snippets of sounds from an Indian street corner and a song introduction by one of the young girls from the ashram.Hall has performed with Matisyahu, Jimmy Cliff and The Wailers, and is currently headlining his own tour. He plays on the Taft Theatre's Ballroom stage tonight with Justin Young and Pete Dressman. Tickets are $17.