JOE JOHNSON (Manitou Springs, CO)
Joe Johnson has the most common of names but demonstrates the most uncommon talent. He combines an unforgettable voice with an uncanny capacity for writing beautiful and moving songs. His south Mississippi drawl and keen intellect deliver authentic stories and music full of soul and spirit.
Raised an hour drive from New Orleans in Mississippi, a state that has produced the very core of American music, Johnson grew up with a great respect for the blues, gospel, and country sound that has defined the area’s artistic heritage. Joe’s own family has contributed to that great legacy. His Grandfather, noted early Nashville Country artist B.J. “the D.J.” Johnson, was a recording engineer, disc jockey, and Grand Ole Opry performer and his father Byron was a well known gospel musician as well. Joe began his own career in the music rich city of Hattiesburg Mississippi, playing in clubs like The Thirsty Hippo, T Bone Records, and Gus’ Cafe’ until 2003 when he set his sights west.
For the last 10 years Joe has called Manitou Springs Colorado home. Half of that time was spent fronting “Creating a Newsense”, a Southern CO rock and roll band which despite it’s dissolution in 2011 has maintained an avid cult fan base. Following the split, Joe released his debut solo effort “A Time To Dance”. The album, released on Pueblo CO based Blank Tape Records, was a stark departure from his previous work. It was a minimalist, acoustic folk album, recorded on reel to reel tape by Ian Bourgal and produced by Conor Bourgal of “The Changing Colors”. “A Time To Dance” with it’s songs of hope and despair, longing and loss, won Joe many new fans while also introducing his longtime listeners to a softer and more story based side of his work. The response was tremendous and the next two years saw many shows including Bohemian Nights New West Fest and 2 MeadowGrass Music Festivals (one featuring a surprise guest singer in Todd Snider who was watching the show and felt inspired to come up and join Joe and the band for a song) as well as tours of the Southwest and Southeast.
In 2013 Joe released his second album on Blank Tape Records entitled “New West Sound”. Joined by a band consisting of some of the best players in Southern CO’s folk and Americana music scene, including Josh Desmidt, Jacob Klock, Grant Sabin, and former Newsense members Brett McKlintock and Jason Gilmore, Inaiah Lujan and Sean Fanning of “The Haunted Windchimes” who recorded and co-produced the album as well. “New West Sound” mixes danceable saloon country, bluegrass gospel, and dirty blues rock, all while maintaining a steady thread of lyricism and storytelling.