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|E-mail:||from: Dorothy Hamm|
|Date:||4/4/2005 11:43:19 AM|
Tribute To An Influence, (06/09/04)
Cowboy Johnson is currently in his early fifties and arrived in Austin, Texas, some eight years ago, by way of England (his father was based there, serving as a U.S. airman), California, Minnesota, South Dakota, and countless other stops along the way. Last year Cowboy turned fifty and cut his debut solo album. I guess that act alone is an acknowledgement that it's never too late to start. Although he's penned a few songs in his time, in late 2002 Johnson's musical hero of some thirty years standing passed away. In his lifetime Mickey Newbury created a unique legacy in word and melody, and A Grain Of Sand amounts to Cowboy's tribute to that man and his musical vision.
Surveying the dozen songs that Johnson has recorded, in terms of the albums they first appeared on, they span the years from Newbury's 1968 debut Harlequin Melodies through to After All These Years in 1981. Vocally Johnson possesses a rich, dark brown baritone, and on this collection he runs the gamut from slow ballads to Gospel-tinged tunes and up-tempo Country songs. Chris Gage, whom Johnson first met in South Dakota during the mid-seventies, produced this recording. At that time, Gage was leader of the Red Willow Band. This album was cut at Austin's MoonHouse Studio, which is owned by Gage and his musical partner/wife, Christine Albert.
The album opens with the reflective ballad about lost love, "She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye," from Mickey's classic 1969 release Looks Like Rain - the one on which Mickey employed sound effects between the tracks, thereby establishing a trademark from the remainder of his career. Next up is "Mobile Blue," the first of three cuts from Frisco Mabel Joy, the others being "How I Love Them Old Love Songs," which features Michael Austin's clarinet while Gage's strident piano playing maintains the tune's goodtime honky-tonk feel, and finally, the ballad of a lonesome traveller, "Frisco Depot." It's quite easy to visualise the couples spinning and spinning and spinning around on the dance floor to the waltz, "Country Boy Saturday Night," and Cowboy truly inhabits the song, but then he's probably lived the life that the song portrays. When Johnson was a youngster he sang Gospel music in his church choir and he brings that soulful edge in his repertoire to play on the hymn like "Lead On," which is immediately followed by another up-tempo number, "Why You Been Gone So Long."
The words in the album title [sic. A Grain Of Sang] appear in the lyric to "Wish I Was," and the cut features a mid-song instrumental break on a classical sounding acoustic guitar, while "You've Always Got The Blues" is another slow (Bluesy) waltz. Ron Knuth's fiddle imbues "Makes Me Wonder If I Ever Said Goodbye" with an old time Country feel, and "If You Ever Get To Houston" amounts to another rhythmic goodtime workout. The closing cut, "Sweet Memories," opened Harlequin Melodies, and Johnson has included the third and final verse, which Newbury omitted from the original 1968 version as well as the second reading that appeared a few years later on Heaven Help The Child"
Johnson is an engaging vocalist, as he proves time and again on A Grain of Sand. Gage and Albert provide sterling instrumental and vocal support throughout and Gage, in particular, contributes a solid and when necessary spirited, rhythmic foundation to each track whether on keyboards or guitar. Apart from the players already mentioned, also lending their support are Glenn Fukunaga (bass), Scott Walls (pedal steel), and Eddie Cantu (drums). This recording is available on the web from Moon House Records.com.
| Mick's memory by Archie Shepherd at 4/4/2005 11:43:19 AM|
| Re: Mick's memory by susieg at 4/4/2005 5:05:11 PM|
| Re: Mick's memory by larry larry at 4/4/2005 5:18:34 PM|
| Re: Mick's memory by Bud at 4/4/2005 5:42:21 PM|
| Re: Mick's memory by larry larry at 4/4/2005 6:12:32 PM|
| Re: Mick's memory by Cowboy at 4/5/2005 9:53:51 AM|
| Re: Mick's memory by Jonmark at 4/5/2005 2:54:53 PM|
| Re: Mick's memory by Roy at 4/5/2005 4:00:52 PM|
| Re: Mick's memory by Mamie at 4/5/2005 9:14:47 PM|
| Re: Mick's memory by Cowboy at 4/5/2005 10:52:43 PM|