A couple months ago I was turned on to a video of Justin Johnson playing his signature three string shovel guitar on a tune called “Crankin’ it Up” and decided to investigate him more. What I found was a master guitar player that plays all types of guitars and makes some of the most beautiful blues instrumental music I have ever heard. This post I would like to showcase his CD If Walls Could Talk. My next post we will talk about his CD Smoke & Mirrors.
Recorded at Cash Cabin in Hendersonville, Tennessee. This is the cabin where Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash recorded all their later music. Produced by Cash Cabin owner John Carter Cash, engineer/co-producer Chuck Turner and creative director/co-producer Nikki Johnson If Walls Could Talk gives you 51 minutes of take your shoes off, sit back and relax or as I do go out and work around the house while letting most of the neighborhood know that I’m in great mood type music. No vocals, just Justin Johnson playing a assortment of instruments for our enjoyment.
Tune number one is “Summertime” written by George Gershwin, arranged by Johnson has Justin playing a 1963 Gibson F-25 Folksinger guitar and a 1925 Gibson Lloyd Loar P5 Mandolin. What a great starter song highlighting the Mandolin.
Song number two gives us “Tennessee Turkey and a Carolina Chick”. This Folk & Bluegrass goody will get your feet a moving and your heart pumping. Justin plays a 1976 Dobro Model 66 Resonator guitar, the before mentioned Mandolin and a 4 string Cigar Box Guitar with homemade strings.
“Wayfaring Stranger” gives us the first taste of the Baritone Ukulele from Willow Glen Guitars with the 1925 Gibson Lloyd Loar P5 Mandolin and the Cigar Box guitar. Great arrangement that allows Johnson to play all three instruments to sooth us after I long hard day.
“Snowy Morning Coming Down” is the first time we don’t get to hear the Mandolin but that doesn’t matter because the beautiful sound that we get “like snow coming down” is the Baritone Ukulele with the cigar box guitar and a Martin Limited Edition Rosanne Cash OM-28M Acoustic Guitar.
“Twilight” in Justin Johnson’s words” I think this song is a lullaby, not just because of the mellow, dreamy feel, and drowsy syncopation, but because it was written as a lullaby.” Justin plays the Baritone Ukulele, Cigar Box Guitar and the Little Crow Guitars custom Justin Johnson Corvinho electric guitar.
“Wood & Weed” is a great musical arrangement by Johnson combining the 1925 Gibson Lloyd Loar P5 Mandolin, a Little Crow Guitars “Blues Plank BO6 Resonator” electric guitar and a 4 string Starboard Side Resonator guitar. This is a must listen to song where Justin proves how great he is in writing arrangements using all instruments at his disposal.
The next video combines my two favorite Justin Johnson songs on the album. The first part is “Thistletop Dirge and Cutting the Body Loose” Justin writes: “The concept for this medley is that of a jazz funeral, where mourning & loss transition into a letting go of what must pass and into a celebration of life.” Them we jump into “Cutting the Body Loose”. After “letting go of what must pass”… this short boogie tune shows us that we are going into “the celebration of life”. On these two tunes Justin plays a CigTone 5-string Hubcap Banjo, a 1920 Gibson Model K-1 Mandocello and the 1925 Gibson Lloyd Loar P5 Mandolin with a 1952 Fender Telecaster electric guitar.
“The Red Road” gives you the feel like you are about to be watching an old Western Movie. I’m guessing the deep notes are coming from the Charles Atchison 6-String Lap Steel “Baromitar” built from a 1840’s weather barometer. Again we get the sweet sounds of the 1925 Gibson Lloyd Loar P5 Mandolin with the 4-string Starboard Side Resonator.
Next up we are in the middle of the western when the a major scene is about to begin. You know because the deep sound of the Charles Atchison 6-String Lap Steel “Baromitar” on “When That Full Moon Rises” is telling us so. At 4 minutes long it takes it’s time getting the mood right, and the way the song ends you know the the scene is done and it’s time to move on. Along with the Mandolin we also get a 1950 Gibson Nick Lucas Special that was previously owned by June Carter Cash.
The big ending of the movie comes when the showdown is about to begin. Now we learn who wins, the good guy or the bad. To set up the ending Justin gives us “Abracadabra”. Bang goes the guns at the exact end of the song! For the acoustic guitar we get a 1965 Gibson F-25 Folksinger with the Little Crow Guitars custom Justin Johnson Corvinho electric guitar and a 1959 Gibson Les Paul Sunburst.
The 12th and final song is “We’ll Meet Again” and as the song title says we will meet again when Justin finishes his next album Drivin’ It Down! in 2017. That is of course after listening to the bonus track “”Rain on the Cash Cabin Porch”.
For more on Justin Johnson you can visit his Website.
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You can buy Justin Johnson CD’s direct form his website. Here is the page link Roots Music School where you can also find the link to his online lessons page.
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