Eric John­son re­vis­its ‘Ah Via Mu­si­com’

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - SPOTLIGHT - BY DAVE GIL DE RUBIO COR­RE­SPON­DENT

For pop artists, the idea of strik­ing a trio of Top 10 hits is a chal­leng­ing, but not an al­to­gether in­sur­mount­able task. But when that per­former is a gui­tar in­stru­men­tal­ist, you’re talk­ing rar­efied air.

So it went for Eric John­son in 1990 when his third stu­dio al­bum, “Ah Via Mu­si­com,” took him from be­ing a Gui­tar Player mag­a­zine cover dar­ling to get­ting sig­nif­i­cant air­play to go with that com­mer­cial suc­cess.

Fast for­ward to 2018, and John­son is re­unit­ing with bassist Kyle Brock and drum­mer Tommy Tay­lor to hit the road and play the hit al­bum they cre­ated to­gether in its en­tirety. John­son brings their show to Walker Theatre tonight, Oct. 11.

Rather than rest on past lau­rels, John­son is also pro­mot­ing “Col­lage,” his 10th stu­dio al­bum.

Split be­tween five cov­ers and five orig­i­nal num­bers, “Col­lage” gives nods to The Bea­tles (“We Can Work It Out”), Ste­vie Won­der (“Uptight”), surf mu­sic in­stru­men­tal­ists The Chan­tays (“Pipe­line”), B.B. King (“Rock Me, Baby”) and Jimi Hen­drix (“One Rainy Wish”). By cast­ing such a wide stylis­tic net, the former gui­tar prodigy wanted to loosen up his record­ing process while hon­or­ing those who came be­fore him.

“This was just me go­ing in and record­ing what­ever I felt like record­ing with no pres­sure. It was just to have a lit­tle fun and to try and cut as much of it live as I could. It has more of a re­laxed vibe to it,” John­son said.

“For me, it was just kind of hon­or­ing the idea that there’s such beauty in all styles of mu­sic. It’s kind of like go­ing aerial in a plane and you look down on the to­pog­ra­phy and re­al­ize that there’s this con­nec­tiv­ity to it all.”

Orig­i­nally in­spired to play mu­sic by a gui­tar-play­ing fam­ily friend, who came over to the house and played some num­bers by blues­men El­more James and Jimmy Reed, John­son started wood-shed­ding when he was 11. Over the next decade, his skills grew as he put in time with a lo­cal fu­sion group be­fore go­ing solo and earn­ing his own fol­low­ing. He also wound up be­ing a ses­sion gui­tarist for a num­ber of higher pro­file artists, in­clud­ing Christo­pher Cross, Cat Stevens and Ca­role King.

“It was re­ally cool to be around song­smiths like that and to see how im­por­tant a song was to them. That was what it was about. It was a good learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for me to see that,” he ex­plained.

Fans com­ing to see John­son on this tour will get to sam­ple the newer, mel­lower gui­tarist with a first-half set fo­cused on his most re­cent fare, while diehards ex­pe­ri­ence all of “Ah Via Mu­si­com” in the show’s sec­ond set. It’s the first time John­son has taken this kind of ap­proach to that land­mark re­lease.

“I’ve never done it in its en­tirety be­fore. I’d only do a song here and there. It’s pretty nos­tal­gic and I’m hav­ing fun with it,” John­son said.

“There are a lot of parts of it that are im­pro­vi­sa­tional, so it’s a lit­tle bit more liq­uid than if I had to go play it all note-for-note. It’s nice to play with Kyle and Tommy again. There’s a chem­istry be­tween us that’s re­ally cool.”

Eric John­son

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.