Carson City – Neil Gregory Johnson is a native of Roseburg, Oregon and has been described as a musical chameleon who incorporates a mix of American roots and popular music in his covers and original songs. Johnson released an EP in March of last year and is kicking off a 16 city, month-long tour on January 9 in Ashland, Oregon. The second stop in the series of gigs will be in Reno on January 10 at Davidson’s Distillery, so Will Houk recently took time to speak with Neil Gregory Johnson by phone … listen …
Will began by asking Johnson about his musical beginnings.
“I started out playing jazz guitar about six years ago when I quit my job, and that kind of turned into Chet Atkins and Merle Travis style of guitar, so all of a sudden I was working with those two things, and then pretty soon people wanted me to sing, so I started singing old classic rock, CCR, Bob Segar, stuff like that, Eagles, just kinda your basic old covers.
“And then, I used to play in a punk band, so I was always wanting to get back into that, but it’s really hard to make a living doing that, and I decided to kind of meld it all together, make a concoction of all of it, so I feel good about it when I go out playing live, and so my record is really just a lot of rock and roll. It’s got a lot of harmonica in it, bass and electric guitar and driving drums, so it’s rock and roll and it’s also country influence, and it’s also southern rock, there’s some blues influences there, but then I’m going on the road and just playing solo, so it’s story-telling singer/songwriter thing, short story long is American music.”
A punk band from Austin, Nevada? Will asked for a little more information.
“We were kids … it was my first band … we started our little punk band. It was awesome,” Johnson said. “We didn’t know what we were doing, and honestly, that’s what makes a good punk band is that you don’t know what you’re doing, and I think there is a like a cassette tape somewhere in the depths of my basement that I could probably find some day, but it’s pretty terrible … I don’t know if I’d let anybody hear it anyway, and I love Nevada from that experience. I lived in Tonapah for a little bit too, but Nevada has always got a place in my heart.”
Johnson is kicking off a 16 city, month-long tour on January 9 in Ashland, Oregon. The second stop on Johnson’s “Ramble On Tour” will be on January 10 at Davidson’s Distillery in Reno. With a lot of bars and motel rooms ahead, Will asked Neil what he likes best about playing music and touring.
“Ah man it’s just exciting when something works with people … that’s a good question,” Johnson said with a chuckle. “I love music. It’s always been that close to me that I just never questioned it I always just do it. It’s like second nature now or me. I’ve been around it my whole life. My parents played. It just means a lot that I can do it and I have something that I love and can just share it with people. It’s just cool. That’s basically why I do it. I just like people. I like people and I like being accepted … I like it when people like my music … I like making friends … just kind of a socialite.”
For more from Neil Gregory Johnson, listen to the embedded audio interview above …