Eric Johnson hits the road to support first all acoustic solo album “EJ”


Tour Kicks Off At Jackson, MS’ Duling Hall on October 5 And Wraps In His Hometown of Austin, TX At The Paramount Theatre on November 19

Austin, TX – Eric Johnson will hit the road next week in support of his first acoustic solo album titled EJ. Thirty years after his breakthrough solo release ‘Tones’ brought him national recognition, the new release showcases nine original compositions and four covers. Johnson shares, “Ever since I was young, I’ve played piano and acoustic guitar in my private life. This type of music has always been a part of me, but I never showcased it on any kind of bigger level, like a full acoustic record. With EJ, I just decided to be more honest with myself and everybody, and show more of my personal side.”

Johnson, long known for his painstaking approach to making records, used a much more immediate attack for the self-produced EJ. “Almost all of that material was cut live,” Johnson explains. “Some of the songs I actually sang and played at the same time – just live in the studio. Recording this way gave it more of an honest realism and organic emotion. Especially on the acoustic, you just have to get in there and play.”

On the original compositions “Wonder,” “Fatherly Downs,” and “All Things You Are,” Johnson frames his voice with his prized 1980 Martin D-45, a gift from his late father. He plays the steel-string on his superlative instrumentals “Once Upon a Time in Texas,” “All Things You Are,” and “Song for Irene.” He conjures the beautiful, pensive tones of “Serinidad,” another original instrumental, on a Ramirez nylon-string guitar. A spirited steel-string arrangement of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson” rounds out the solo guitar tracks.

Johnson recasts another Simon and Garfunkel favorite, “Scarborough Fair,” for voice and piano, and plays piano on the originals “Water Under the Bridge,” “November,” and “Wrapped in a Cloud,” an ensemble track with acoustic bass, cello, drums, and percussion. In a move that’s sure to surprise his fans, Johnson rearranged Jimi Hendrix’ “One Rainy Wish” for guitar and piano, capping the performance with a jazz-inflected piano solo. Rounding out the record is Johnson and guest guitarist Doyle Dykes’ superlative cover of Les Paul and Mary Ford’s 1951 classic, “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise.”

Throughout his career, Johnson has approached music as a healing force, a way to enhance a listener’s consciousness and conjure joy and inspiration. “That’s what I’ve always appreciated most about other artists,” he says. “Some artists inspire us to wake up and get back to the clarity of consciousness. With this record, I’m trying to do that too, because I appreciate it so much in other people.”

Confirmed appearances include:
10/05 Jackson, MS Duling Hall
10/06 Atlanta, GA Center Stage
10/07 Rocky Mount, VA Harvester Performance Center
10/08 Elkins, WV Mountain Stage
10/09 Cleveland, OH Music Box Supper Club
10/11 Oakmont, PA The Oaks Theater
10/12 Annapolis, MD Rams Head On Stage
10/13 Richmond, VA Tin Pan
10/14 Sellersville, PA Sellersville Theater
10/15 Westbury, NY The Space At Westbury
10/16 Washington DC The Hamilton
10/18 Fairfield, CT StageOne
10/19 Fall River, MA Narrows Center For The Arts
10/20 New Brunswick, NJ State Theatre
10/21 Beverly, MA Cabot Theatre
10/22 Cohoe, NY Cohoes Music Hall
10/23 Shirley, MA Bull Run Restaurant
10/25 New York, NY Highline Ballroom
10/26 Londonberry, NH Tupelo Music Hall
10/27 Norfolk, CT Infinity Hall
10/28 Brownfield, ME Stone Mountain Arts Center
10/29 Londonderry, NH Tupelo Music Hall
10/30 Pawling, NY Daryl’s House
11/01 Ferndale, MI The Magic Bag
11/02 St. Louis, MO Old Rock House
11/03 Minneapolis, MN Dakota Jazz Club
11/04 Milwaukee, WI Back Room @ Colectivo Coffee
11/05 Chicago, IL City Winery
11/06 Nashville, TN City Winery
11/09 Charlotte, NC McGlohan Theatre
11/10 Durham, NC Carolina Theatre
11/11 Charleston, SC Charleston Music Hall
11/13 Asheville, NC Diane Worham Theatre
11/15 Clearwater, FL Capitol Theatre
11/16 Ponte Vedra Beach, FL Ponte Vedra Concert Hall
11/18 New Orleans, LA House of Blues
11/19 Austin, TX Paramount Theatre

Eric Johnson talks about live album titled “Europe Live”

Eric Johnson is a platinum selling guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist who’s extensive career dates back to the mid 1970’s. Johnson’s latest offering is a live album titled “Europe Live” which is a collection of tracks recorded during Johnson’s recent European tour. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Eric recently about the new release as well as his current plans for a new studio album.

Adam Lawton: What was it that interested you in doing a live album as opposed to a traditional studio album?
Eric Johnson: We were touring Europe and at some point during that run the company who put out the European version of my album “Up Close” contacted me asking if they could record some of the shows. It wasn’t anything that was planned ahead of time. After everything was done they sent me the tracks to see what I thought. We went through all the tapes and there ended up being quite a bit of stuff we were able to work with.

AL: So the album is a collection of takes from a number of different shows?
EJ: We recorded 4 different cities with the bulk of the performances coming from the Amsterdam show. The forth city we recorded in was Paris and that was just a board tape. It was never meant for anything. I decided to put one acoustic song on the record which was different from the electric stuff and that ended up coming from that board tape. What you hear is the actual two track tape from the board as there was nothing we could really do to that track being is was done from the board.

AL: What do find to be the most challenging aspect of doing a live album?
EJ: Keeping everything live and performance oriented is certainly the hardest part. When you have that reference point of the live material there is a raw spark that happens. When you deviate from that it’s really obvious. This has been a great thing for me to do and I have found a lot of entertainment in it.

AL: Do you see yourself doing more live recording as opposed to studio recording?
EJ: Yes, Definitely. Even working live in the studio is something I am open for. The more you are able to do in real time the more energy and emotion I think the work will have. This has made me rethink my entire way of doing things as I want to be able to incorporate more of the live process whenever I can.

AL: For the shows that were recorded to you alter the night’s set list in any way from the nights that weren’t being recorded?
EJ: Not really. We just did our sets and I didn’t think much about the recordings. Other than a couple extra lines running off the amps to the back room I never actually saw what was going on. There wasn’t a vibe of we were making a live record it was more of just someone was out there recording the show that night. Everything was very off the cuff.

AL: With your last studio album being a reworking of the “Up Close” album do you have plans to start on a new studio record any time soon?
EJ: Right now I am currently working with Mike Stern on a collaboration record. We have finished all of the recording and we are in the middle of mixing as we speak. That album should be out in November. The album is sort of a fusion record as Mike comes from the jazz world and I from the rock world. It’s mostly an instrumental record with the exception of one track. The album is very song oriented and not just a bunch of riffing. I am really excited about it as it turned out great. I also am finishing up a solo acoustic record that I hope to get out soon. Doing an acoustic record is something that I have wanted to do for about 10 years now. I am a big folk music fan so I am excited to do something in that style.

AL: When you are working on a record outside of the rock genre what steps do you take to adjust your playing and tone?
EJ: I just try to keep my ears open and learn more about music. I try and take the new things I have learned and incorporate those things into my own sound and playing. Being around other musicians from different areas they are naturally going to play things that I don’t know. I am always listening to try and make my playing better and to support those I am playing with. It’s been a great learning experience for me.

AL: Do you have any tour plans in place for this spring/summer?
EJ: We have a 3 week Midwest tour planned for August. That will take us to Chicago, Minneapolis and a few other places. In November Mike and I will be doing a 2 week tour of the East Coast.

Ryan Johnson talks about tagging Great White Sharks and his work with Ocearch

Ryan Johnson grew up in the island nation of New Zealand and has always been drawn to the sea. Having dreamed being a marine biologist, he moved to Southern Africa in 1998, where he began to work with the ocean’s greatest predator—the great white shark. Ryan joined up with the research group Ocearch as their Chief Scientist and was involved with the television series “Shark Wrangers” last year on History. Ryan took out some time to chat with Media Mikes about working with sharks and the importance of tagging them.

Mike Gencarelli: How long have you been working with sharks? What was your draw?
Ryan Johnson: I have been working with sharks since 1998, when I started my M.Sc thesis looking at the impact of white shark cage diving on the behaviour of white sharks, and marine ecology, in the Gansbaai area. My draw was adventure, passion and the chance to learn about an incredibly charismatic animal in my chosen field as a marine biologist.

MG: What drew you to join the Ocearch as Chief Scientist in 2012?
RJ: Ocearch NGO approached me a couple of years prior to them arriving in South Africa. Chris Fischer then suggested his ideas and the research potential that his organization could offer the South Africa scientific community. Being a shark biologist from South Africa, I am mandated to produce knowledge to enable the informed management and conservation of sharks in our region. The most powerful tool currently available to produce this data is satellite telemetry work that enables the description of home ranges, critical habitats, and migratory patterns. This knowledge is essential to empower managers and conservationists to guide their action in an effective manner. As a developing country South Africa does not frequently have sufficient resources to dedicate the required logistics and finances to research that will answer these crucial questions. Ocearch producing these resources for the South African shark academic community to use and fulfill our research mandate was what attracted to the opportunity. In addition, on review, the practical skills of the Ocearch team made them a perfect partner to conduct this research with.

MG: Tell us about Ocearch is planning for Expedition Jacksonville?
RJ: The Ocearch model is to work with local scientists that will carry on the work once the mother vessel and Ocearch has left. As such, I am not involved with the Jacksonville Expedition, nor am I privy to the planning. My focus is to have the data from the South African expedition processed and published.

MG: How many sharks have been tagged by the Ocearch?
RJ: During the South African Expedition, a total of 47 sharks were tagged with various combinations of transmitters consisting of one/some or all of (a) SPOT satellite tags, (b) acoustic transmitters and (c) PAT satellite tags. This included six ragged tooth sharks in addition to the white sharks. Over the years I am unsure of how many sharks in total Ocearch have tagged.

MG: Tell us about why is it important to tag sharks?
RJ: Tracking the movements of sharks enable scientists to identify critical habitats, the home range, migratory pathways, reproduction related movements. With this knowledge you can guide management and conservation plans, essentially you empower people to design plans that will enable the effective conservation of the population. For instance, the Oceach program illustrated a that the population range of white shark stock of South Africa extends extensively into the exclusive economic zone of Mozambique. As white sharks are not protected in Mozambique, our national conservation plan is ineffective in its objective to conserve the population. The knowledge produced provides concrete evidence for South Africa’s legislators to take to Mozambique and use as leverage to ensure that Mozambique’s management of white sharks does not compromise our shared resource.

MG: What have your learned so far from the data collected?
RJ: That white sharks residing in South Africa spend a large percentage of time outside of out EEZ and in waters where they can legally be fished. Thus giving a possible explanation as to why there has been no population level recovery despite 22 years of national protection.

MG: Any close calls with the sharks while performing the internal tagging surgery?
RJ: My only concern is to perform the surgery as quickly and professionally as possible and thereby minimize the stress on the shark. Naturally when sharks have become active on the platform during surgery you can get hit and knocked hard. But following this I need to get back to the surgery, regain my composure and complete it successfully. Afterwards you feel and rub the knocks.

MG: Have you had the opportunity to name any of the sharks?
RJ: I named one shark ‘Princess Fi’ after my wife Fiona Ayerst a well known shark conservationists and underwater photographer. After coming up with such a silly name, I was not given too many more chances.

MG: Can you tell us a little bit about Ocearch Global Shark Tracker – Powered by CAT?
RJ: The Ocearch Global Tracker is one of the most revolutionary communication tools ever used by the scientific community to include and inform the wider public about a research project and the results of the research. Essentially it gives everyone instant access to the movements of the sharks tagged and enables them to mine the data to gain a personal knowledge on the behaviour of great white sharks around the world. This level of communication and inclusion is a massive education tool for the public to see past the white shark as a one dimensional man eater.

MG: Can we expect more episodes of “Shark Wrangers” on History this year?
RJ: I am not sure, Chris Fischer negotiates the television deals and would be best to field this question.

MG: How is was it blending the reality aspect of the show with your work?
RJ: I had a lot of respect for the filming and production crew in how they handled the filming. Sure there were elements of sensationalism and building up tension amongst the crew and scientists, however, when it came to the operation with the shark, the production took a total ‘fly on the wall’ approach and did not interfere at all.

MG: What are you doing when you are not playing with sharks?
RJ: I am following my second passion of producing and filming wildlife documentaries. It gets me outside and into wild places, and that is where I love to be.

Brandon Johnson talks about working on Adult Swim’s “NTSF:SD:SUV::”

Brandon Johnson is the co-star of Adult Swim’s “NTSF:SD:SUV::” He is joined by Paul Scheer, Kate Mulgrew, Rebecca Romijn, Martin Starr, June Diane Raphael and Rob Riggle. The show has just started its second season and already is shaping up to trump its first.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Brandon to find about what he like most about playing Alphonse and what we can expect this season.

Mike Gencarelli: What do you think makes “NTSF:SD:SUV::” so unique?
Brandon Johnson: I feel like you get a lot of bang for your buck. We think our audience is really smart. We know they are. We don’t try and hit it over their head, in terms of “Do you all get what a crime procedural is?”. One of the coolest things about Adult Swim and their shows is that they get really amazing talent to be able to come in and do these shows. What separates us from everyone else is our cameos. We have Ray Liotta in there. I have no idea how they got Kate Mulgrew, but she is hilarious. You look at it and it seems like just a little show but then you look closer and realize we have every member of “The Office”, the members of “Human Giant” and most of cast from “Freak and Geeks”, including Paul Fieg. If you are a nerd, we will appeal to you.

MG: If I wasn’t already a big fan, that is really a great sale for the show.
BJ: [laughs], I know right. If you are a computer nerd…we have a robot. If you like “Star Trek”…we have Kate Mulgrew. We are taking care of you nerds.

MG: Where do you get inspiration for Alphonse?
BJ: I love the contrast of LL Cool J and Ice-T as cops on television. Alphonse has these great one-liners that are pretty potent but he is terrified of everything. I like to be the basic cop like “Hey man, I may not have gone to college and don’t understand words on paper but I know your a criminal” [laughs]. As much as David Caruso believes that sunglasses improves his skills — LL Cool J believes that flexing his pecks makes him a better cop. I try to do the best I can to convey “I really don’t know what doing on here but I don’t like it”. [laughs]

MG: Have you gotten a script and just thought it was too over-the-top?
BJ: No. We are really happy that the writers are really really good at what they do. I am just really trying to keep up with them. The creators knew what they wanted to do with the show, so by the time we got there it was really tight.

MG: What can we expect from season two of “NTSF:SD:SUV::”
BJ: Season two you get to see the lovely NTSF:AK:CANOE, which is another NTSF in Alaska. We are going to Alaska to meet my father, who is being played by Steven Williams.

MG: How do you compare this season to the first season?
BJ: The first season, I think we were trying to win you. We went to different locations in each episodes and there wasn’t a lot of focus on some of the other characters. This season your are going to get more of June (Diane Raphael), a lot of Rebecca (Romijn), and Martin (Starr) gets his own episode. One of the things we wanted to do this season was say “Look now that you know how crazy we are, let’s go ahead and give you a look at each of the characters”. I mean there will always be (Paul) Scheer, since we need him and he is just amazing.

MG: Any room for improv?
BJ: It is a weird thing. It is like a Jeter situation [laughs]. “We know that you were a great baseball player once and still are and if we ever need those skills that will be amazing, but you trust the skipper on this one and just do your job” [laughs]. I thankfully don’t have to improv that much. The writers are really good and help me out on that.

MG: What else do you have planned next?
BJ: I do but I have to be loyal to this one. I think this show is going to be awesome this season!

Interview with Bill Johnson

Bill Johnson played the charismatic and almost loveable Bubba in Tobe Hooper’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”. Bill took time out of his busy schedule to talk with Movie Mikes about his work in the film as well as some of his other upcoming projects.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us how you got involved with “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2”?
Bill Johnson: Early summer of 1986, I got a call from my agent telling me that I was going to go and audition for Tobe Hooper. I had not seen the original “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” prior to that phone call however I saw it immediately afterwards. I went into the audition and read for the casting director. From there I got a call back to read with the casting director and the writer this time. Then I got another call back, this time to read with Tobe and Caroline Williams. It was mostly improvisational and they liked Caroline and I together…so they cast me.

AL: Can you tell us what it was like working with Bill Mosley and Dennis Hopper?
BJ: Dennis was a pretty amazing guy. He was doing pre-production for his film “Colors” at the same time as filming for “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” was going on. Dennis would only be on set the days he was shooting. Dennis really had this enormous energy and when you were with him you really got that sense about him. Dennis had a great sense of humor and was always joking around. Working with Bill was also a lot of fun and he was really ready to play that role. He and I played cards quite a bit while I was cooped up in my trailer in full costume. (Laughs)

AL: Any great behind the scene stories you can tell us from that shoot?
BJ: The place we were shooting in one night almost burnt down, which was pretty interesting. We were shooting on the set of the underground building and for that set the design department had searched all the second hand and goodwill stores within a 50 mile radius for any lamps they could find.  After they got them all put up in there they actually clocked the temperature at 125 degrees. The idea for all the lights came because production had fallen behind and they lit the entire building to save time on set up. The University of Texas art department did the props and art work which was really great. From what I was told some of the wiring may not have been up to code and a spark or something set off the fire. Someone from the crew threw a ladder up and pulled down the stuff that had caught on fire. They really saved the bacon.

AL: Can you tell us about your role in the film “Jon”?
BJ: “Jon” is a film about a fledgling serial killer. Billy Instone produced, wrote and directed that film on a budget of just $5,000. I think he ended up with a really nice film! The main character has an imaginary friend  to speak that convinces Jon to do harmful things. I have four scenes in the film and play the role of a priest who Jon visits with to talk about the things he has done. The film has a really great ending that I think people are going to enjoy. Billy is just such a great artist and the director of cinematography Dave Griffin did a really great job as well on the film. I hope to have some of the DVD’s at a few of my upcoming convention appearances for people to check out.

AL: You also have done some voice work for a few video games. Can you tell us how you got involved with that?
BJ: I have a degree in performance and have done a lot of stage and screen work and voice over has been a part of that. I got a call one day from a guy by the name of Raymond Benson, who I had gone to school with. He tells me they are going to try something that has never been done before with computer role playing games in that they are going to use digitized voice. I went in the first day to record and it was pretty much a janitors closet with some foam walls and a dat recorder which I guess had been smuggled in from Germany.(Laughs) We recorded everything for that first project in that closet. I find doing the voice over work to be a lot of fun.

AL: Can you tell us about your upcoming project?
BJ: I have a role in a film called “Boneboys”. Kim Henkel who has been the co-writer on most of the “Texas Chainsaw” movies wrote this script and it is wicked! I play this really bad perverted baker that tries to lure in teens. There is some really cool stuff in this film and I think people are going to like it. The film is wacky and very intense. It’s quite edgy.  I have a cameo role in a film called “Supernatural Exorcism” which was directed by Derek Lee Nixon, who is also in “Boneboys”.  A few more that I have been a part of recently one being “Naked Horror” by Carlo Rodriguez another titled “Creatures from Hell” and I also did an old fashion comedy called “Camp Kickatoo”.


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