JOHNNY A - Johnny A. has one of the most
eloquent voices in modern music - and he doesn't sing a note. Instead, he
channels joy, love, humor, sadness... every aspect of the human experience,
through his guitar.
Only the finest musicians have the ability to capture the nuances of life in
sound, which puts Johnny in a very exclusive group of six-stringers that
includes Les Paul, Wes Montgomery, Jeff Beck, Chet Atkins, and Jimi Hendrix. The
secret is his blend of melody, sonic definition, technique and that
indefinable-yet-tangible quality called "soul." And he's eloquently shared that
secret on the CDs Sometime Tuesday Morning (2001), Get Inside (2004), and the
instructional DVD Taste, Tone, Space (2006), which are approaching combined
sales of 150,000 copies. All the virtues of Johnny A.'s playing are in abundant
display on One November Night, a brand new DVD/CD set recorded live at Scullers
in his hometown of Boston, MA.
"We were coming off a long tour," Johnny relates. "Plus, my daughter had just
been in her first car wreck, so I wasn't sure if we should even record this
show, and yet, the music and the audience and the night were beautiful. Everyone
and everything in the room came together to make it an extremely special
That's obvious from the opening chord cascade of the high-spirited "I Had To
Laugh" to the rich, warm vibrato-shaded "Lullabye For Nicole" to the country &
western soundscape "Tex Critter" to the rave-up "Jimi Jam," a tribute to
Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton and other '60s blues and rock icons who have
been among Johnny's many influences during his years as a performer.
Most of the night's repertoire is drawn from Johnny's previous studio albums,
but this is the first time the ferocious "Jimi Jam" and his artful
interpretations of The Beatles "The Night Before" and Chuck Berry's "Memphis"
have been recorded on CD. The DVD concludes with a mesmerizing solo rendition of
The Left Banke's "Walk Away Renee" that was filmed outdoors against the backdrop
of a vibrant New England sunset.
"For me, One November Night is a special way to end the chapter of my career
that Sometime Tuesday Morning and Get Inside represents," says Johnny.
"It's not that I won't play those songs anymore," he adds. After all, they won
him a place in the hearts of a still-growing legion of fans and at the top of
the Triple A radio charts, where "Oh Yeah" became the first number one
instrumental in more than a decade.
That extensive airplay and a live performance on syndicated radio's popular "Bob
and Tom" show also propelled Sometime Tuesday Morning and Get Inside to the apex
of Amazon.com's best-sellers list, where both titles jockeyed for the number-one
and number-two positions.
"Those albums helped me establish my identity as an instrumental artist after
decades leading rock and pop bands, and as a sideman for Peter Wolf, Bobby
Whitlock, and others," Johnny explains.
They also earned Johnny invitations to share the stage with, and ultimately win
the admiration of, B.B. King, Les Paul, George Thorogood, Jeff Beck and J.J.
Cale, among others. He's also performed at such prestigious festivals as Eric
Clapton's Crossroads, the Montreal Jazz Festival, and Tokyo's Fuji Rock
Although an instrumentalist, Johnny thinks like a singer as he plays, composes
and improvises on guitar. "I'm always interested in dynamics and tone far more
than the amount of notes played," Johnny explains. "What's most important is
that every song has a strong, clear melody; not how fast or flashy the solo is
going to be. That's a lesson I learned when I fell in love with The Beatles and
other bands of the British Invasion, which is still my favorite era in music."
As Johnny explores various genres from song to song, melody remains as the
unifying backbone of his voice. And the way he plays those melodies is highly
personal. His blend of a hybrid picking style and an unconventional approach to
playing chord-based melodies helps create a sound that's absolutely his own. And
it's complimented by an unerring sense of rhythm developed on the first
instrument he played as a youngster: drums.
"I've never had a guitar lesson, so my approach is entirely natural, "Johnny
notes." His technique allows him to accent certain notes within his chords or
during a melody line in the same way a traditional soul singer can push a note
to a grittier or higher range for emotional effect.
Another factor in Johnny's distinctive sound is his choice of guitars. "I've
played all the classic makes and models over the years, but when I embarked on
my solo career and was making Sometime Tuesday Morning I was looking for a
guitar that had a rich, pure distinctive tone and a subtle vibrato arm that
would allow me to end phrases like a singer, and that led me back to Gibsons,"
he recounts. Johnny's use of the Gibson Les Paul, ES-335, Firebird, and ES-295
models caught the Nashville-based company's attention. In fact, Johnny's
unmatched sound so won over the Gibson staff that they were moved to produce a
Johnny A. Signature Model.
"Creating an artist signature model guitar is not something we take lightly,"
says Gibson senior VP Rick Gembar. "But sometimes a player comes along who is
not only a musical innovator and artist of the highest-caliber, but has
innovative ideas about designing a totally new instrument. And that's Johnny,
who just knocked us off our feet."
from gibson.com - Gibson Custom first introduced the Johnny A. Signature Model
in 2003, and it's become one of the company's most successful and popular
models. Developed in close collaboration with Johnny A., the Johnny A. Signature
Model combines several innovative design aspects with many of Gibson's
traditional appointments to deliver one of the world's most unique guitars.
"It's the first time an artist has been involved in every aspect of designing a
new Gibson guitar model from scratch since the Barney Kessel in 1961," Johnny
says. "I've been a Gibson fan for a long time, but this is an honor I couldn't
Johnny's been getting that kind of reaction from fans and other musicians since
he was in his teens, working his way up from playing pizza parlors to headlining
now-historic Boston clubs like the Rat with his bands The Streets, Hidden Secret
and Hearts on Fire. He also has the distinction of being the last guitar player
to perform at the historic Boston Garden before its demolition.
Johnny's work as a sideman has taken him around the world, including a seven
year stint leading legendary J. Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf's group and also
co-producing Wolf's 1996 solo album Long Line, which garnered a four-star review
in Rolling Stone.
When his gig with Wolf ended, Johnny began working on his solo career and
Sometime Tuesday Morning. "At the time, I thought it might be the last thing I
ever recorded - maybe something for my daughter to listen to in the future so
she'd know what her dad once did, "Johnny says. "To my surprise it sold 90,000
copies and launched this entire phase of my career. Besides my family, there's
nothing I love more than being able to play my guitar and make a living with my
creativity. I feel I'm on an amazing adventure - not only because this music has
literally taken me to so many places, but because it takes me somewhere new
every time I play."
"Devotion to melodies, tight dynamics and succulent tones perfectly temper
Johnny's balance of fire and ice." - Ted Drozdowski, Guitar World
"Johnny A. has eclectic musical vision and the skills to realize it...A.'s music
is both accessible and sophisticated." - Ed Kopp JAZZIZ
"Johnny A. has his own signature guitar--and seemingly scores of signature
guitar sounds at his fingertips. If he had trouble focusing on a particular
style as a budding musician, the attention deficit is paying off handsomely
now." - Mike Joyce, Washington Post
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