San Francisco Bay area slide guitar master Dennis Johnson released his new album, Rhythmland, September 15 via Root Tone Records.
Today, we present the exclusive premiere of Johnson’s performance video of “Walkin’ Blues,” a magnetic track off the new album.
On the album—and in the video—Johnson (guitar, vocals) is backed by his band, the Mississippi Ramblers, featuring Tim Metz (drums), Jonathan Stoyanoff (bass) and Craig Long (keyboards, background vocals).
Rhythmland features nine songs composed by Johnson, plus a cover of “Walkin’ Blues,” a classic Robert Johnson (and/or Son House) song that has been covered by a host of blues/rock greats, including Eric Clapton, Joe Bonamassa, Peter Green and Roy Rogers.
Robert Johnson’s approach to guitar was the blueprint for Dennis Johnson’s evolution as a guitarist. “Robert‘s guitar playing sounded like two guitars,” Dennis says. “It’s a blend of rhythm and slide phrases that sound like two guitarists are playing when it’s really one. I approach guitar in much the same way.”
Rhythmland also features a few innovative slide techniques. “I came up with techniques like halftime rhythmic slides and artificial harmonic slides,” he says. “I’ve learned to think rhythm first, and it takes slide guitar to a whole new level. It’s not about how many notes you play, but what you do with the notes you choose. I want to support the rhythms of the song.”
In the studio, Johnson worked with co-producer Craig Long to find unique tones that fit with the songs and the other instruments.
“There are some great guitar tones on the record,” Johnson says. The 12-string Dobro just sings on “Walkin’ Blues;” his 1961 Martin New Yorker demonstrates a beautiful acoustic resonance on the jazz-flavored “My Love Is Here for You” and just rips on the barrelhouse “High Heel Shoes.”
For more information, visit dennisjohnsonslide.com.
Dennis Johnson Tour Dates
10/7 Emerald of Siam Richland, WA
10/10 McMenamin’s White Eagle Portland, OR
10/11 McMenamin’s Old Church Wilsonville, OR
10/20 Live from the Divide Billings, MT
11/3 Silo’s Napa – 8 PM Napa, CA