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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Showing posts with label Donald Ray Johnson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Donald Ray Johnson. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Donald Ray Johnson and Gas Blues Band - Bluesin' Around - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Bluesin' Around, from Donald Ray Johnson and Gas Blues Band and it's a different approach to the blues. Opening with BB King track, Bad Luck, Donald Ray Johnson gets the shuffle going leading on vocals and joined by Gaspard Ossikian on guitar, Pierre Cayla on guitar, Philippe Scemama on bass and Yannick Urbani on drums. The solid horn work of Samuel Dumont on sax and Nicolas Gardel on trumpet add to the original King feel and Daniel Antoine on Hammond super charges it. Joe Louis Walker's Bluesifyin' is up next and Johnson hit's his stride on vocals. With firm bass work by Scemama and tight guitar riffs from Gas and Cayla, this track hits the mark. Willie Dixon's Ain't Superstitious gets a cool remake with a rolling bass riff and altered guitar riff. This is one of my favorite tracks on the release clean guitar riffs and blues intentions. Philip Walker's Ninety Proof is a super slow blues with horn backing. Antoine's Hammond sets the track off nicely and lead guitar work by Gas and Cayla as well as a cool solo by Gardel on trumpet really sets this track off. Another Philip Walker track, Big Rear Window, benefits nicely from a solid rolling bass line and easy rhythm guitar line. Johnson's relaxed vocals and lead guitar riffs blend nicely. A Taste Of Honey's R&B track, Distant pushes out the envelope a bit with a funky bottom and wah wah guitar but it's groove is cool. Nat Dove's She's Dressing Trashy, follows a standard 12 bar format and gives Gas and Cayla each a nice stretch on lead guitar. High stepping, Should've Been Gone, is really cool with soulful sax lead by Dumont. This is a really cool track and another of my favorites on the release with a stiff, bluesy guitar solo hitting it. Wrapping the release is Lucky Peterson's shuffle, You're The One For Me. No Peterson track would be complete without cool organ and swinging BB King like guitar riffs make this a nice closer for an interesting release.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mar Vista Music artist: Donald Ray Johnson - These Blues - The Best of Donald Ray Johnson - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, These Blues - The Best of Donald Ray Johnson, and it's quite good. Opening with Al Green's Ain't No Fun To Me, Johnson hops right on Al Green's rhythm train and sticks it! Cool harp work over the melody gives it a more bluesy taste that Green's original R&B track. Gone So Long has a real nice blues saunter with call and response vocal/guitar riffs. An extended guitar solo with a Taj Mahal feel sets it off. With BB King style, title track, These Blues has a solid drive and stiff guitar riffs. A cool sax solo also sets this track apart. Pop ballad Always On My Mind is performed by Johnson with accompaniment on acoustic guitar. A crisp electric guitar solo add nice flavor. Slow Down Baby has a big swing and fat sax. One of the nicest grooves on the release, the guitar is hot and tasty. R&B style track Here To Stay features Johnson's vocals carried on a warm sax ride and a light percussion bass. Me And Jack (Daniels) has a boogie feel and steel guitar under riffs. Six string electric guitar and a tight back beat give this track a Texas feel. A soulful sax intro on Last Two Dollars leads to a cool soul/R&B track with very nice lead and backing vocals. Nice track. No Guitar Blues has a nice slow 12 bar format and nice vocal phrasing by Johnson. Excellent sax soloing brings the heat on this track and solo guitar work kicks it to the curb. Very cool! It Ain't Easy Being Blue has a real nice easy blues approach and Johnson's solid vocals supplemented by well placed guitar riffs make this a square hit. Thrilling You Killing Me leads off with some really tasty guitar riffs leading into a low key slow blues. Johnson's takes control on this track laying down some of the best vocals on the release and although the guitar takes a back seat, continues with nice punctuation throughout. On funky R&B track, Working Girl Blues, I particularly like the bass line on this track and a well articulated funky guitar solo really hits the spot. Wrapping the release is It's Time, is a organ based R&B track featuring rich vocals from Johnson over a Latin rhythm and searing electric guitar riffs.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Sky Is Crying - Donald Ray Johnson


Donald Ray Johnson was born on November 12, 1948 in Bryan Texas. He took an early interest in music, as did his older sister Janice Marie. They sang in church and at family functions. At age 7, Donald Ray became interested in playing the drums, beating on whatever he could get his hands on.
In early 1970, Don was called to play weekends in LA with Phillip Walker, by long time friend Nat Dove, who now lived in LA. Some 29 years later the relationship with the Phillip Walker Band still exists. In 1971 Donald moved to LA to work with the Joe Houston big band backing some of the west coast's top blues artist.

While trying to find a weekend gig Don met songwriter - producer, Perry Kibble who was in the process of developing a group that featured the talents of two young African American women, (bassist, Janice Marie Johnson & guitarist Carlita Durhan). We later became known as " A Taste Of Honey ". In 1979, this band was the first Afro - American Band to win and be presented with the "Grammy Award" for "Best New Artist".

Now living in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Don has become a well liked and respected member of the Canadian blues community. Named "Best Canadian Male Blues Vocalist" in 1997 by Real Blues Magazine, Don was also nominated "Best Blues Drummer" in 1997 and Best Male Blues Vocalist in 1998 by the Toronto Blues Society. He was recently nominated "Best Blues Artist" by the Alberta Recording Industry Association (A.R.I.A.)
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