Eric Johnson, the celebrated American electric guitarist, hailed by Joe Bonamassa as “one of the greatest guitar players of all time,” returns to the UK in 2013 for a tour that kicks off at the London o2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Wednesday 3rd April.
The 6-date tour will showcase material from his current album Up Close, as well as from his rich back catalogue, including the classic Cliffs of Dover.
Planet Rock will start at ticket pre-sale on Wednesday 26th September, followed by general on-sale date of Friday 28th September from www.thegigcartel.com and 0844 478 0898.
Eric Johnson is also a respected acoustic, lap steel, resonator and an accomplished pianist and vocalist. He’s best known for his diverse array of music genres evidenced by many different styles incorporated in his studio and live performances, including rock, blues, jazz, fusion, folk, New Age & country.
Guitar Player magazine called Johnson "one of the most respected guitarists on the planet.” His critically acclaimed, platinum-selling 1990 recording Ah Via Musicom produced the single Cliffs of Dover, for which he won the 1991 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance (the track also appeared in Guitar Hero 3 – Legends of Rock.)
In 1996 he joined forces with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai for the original and legendary G3 tour that garnered a worldwide audience with the platinum selling CD/DVD.
Johnson’s best known for playing stock Fender Stratocasters and Gibson ES-335 electric guitars through a triple amp setup, consisting of vintage Fender and Marshall amplifiers.
He plays vintage Stratocasters but also his ‘Fender Signature Stratocaster’ model, which is one of the best selling instruments in the Fender catalogue. He also designed a Signature acoustic guitar that was released by Martin guitars.
Eric Johnson’s stature as one of the premier guitar players in contemporary music is his artistic trump card, backed by a Grammy Award and five nominations, platinum album, Top 10 hits like Cliffs of Dover, praise from critics and the esteem of his peers. The full range of his talents marks him as a gifted songwriter, dynamic live performer, singer, pianist, and song interpreter.
His myriad and distinctive musical gifts are vividly evident on Johnson’s current studio album, Up Close, released on his own Vortexan Music label. The 15-track disc finds the noted master craftsman cutting loose, roaming through variations on the rock, blues, pop, country and jazz genres, pushing the dynamic range of his artistry, and mixing it up with such friends and peers as guitarists Jimmie Vaughan and Sonny Landreth, plus guest vocalists Steve Miller, Johnny Lang and Malford Milligan.
“I decided to let go a bit and allow things to happen and just go with the flow,” explains Johnson about his approach to the album. “That’s a direction that works better for any artist, and especially for me. I like my work to have a high proficiency, but I also want to go for the energy and magic of the performances.”
That vitality and vivid musicality brims from such hook-filled numbers as the hard-rocking instrumentals Fat Daddy and Vortexan and the driving vocal song Brilliant Room (sung by Milligan). Gem is splashed with bright and painterly six-string colors, Soul Surprise finds Johnson weaving a picturesque tapestry of both his guitar and piano gifts, and Arithmetic summons up a swirling and spectral kaleidoscope of guitars, keyboards and Johnson’s singing.
His early years and influences are explored on the Mike Bloomfield/Buddy Miles-composed blues song Texas (from the 1968 Electric Flag album A Long Time Comin’) on which Miller sings and Johnson’s and Vaughan’s guitars engage in stirring interplay, and Austin (sung by Lang), which looks back to his teens in his hometown as a budding player and avid music fan who would be allowed to slip under-aged into music nightclubs and “go sit in the back and listen to bands.”
On The Way is a delightful Texas meets Tennessee twang romp, and A Change Has Come To Me opens with a six-string nod to Jimi Hendrix (a prime Johnson influence) that carries through the track as it burgeons into a celebration of the pleasures of the deep and soulful groove. Interstitial instrumental snippets like the spellbinding Indian music-flavored opener Awaken and the dreamlike Traverse and The Sea and the Mountain plus Change (Revisited) weave the collection together. Johnson caps the CD with the uplifting grace note of Your Book on which he and Landreth interweave their playing (including Johnson’s stately piano work) with emotive elegance.
The lyrical themes of reflection, emotional revelations, personal growth and fulfillment are underscored on the album by Johnson’s most daring, urgent, progressive and at times raw and fervent guitar work to date. With its sonic immediacy (thanks to a mix by engineering legend Andy Johns) and openhearted musicality and songwriting, Up Close truly lives up to its name as Johnson continues to forge fresh and compelling new dimensions of his artistry.
Johnson leapt to the forefront of contemporary music some 20 years ago as “an extraordinary guitar player accessible to ordinary music fans,” as the Memphis Commercial Appeal hails him, with his landmark million selling 1990 album Ah Via Musicom. Hailed as a record that reached near-classic proportions within the guitar community, it was preceded by dedicated groundwork as a live performer that marked him as a talent bound for great things. And it’s been followed by a diverse and fascinating musical journey that inspired The New Age Music Guide to rave that “Eric Johnson plays guitar the way Michelangelo painted ceilings: with a colorful vibrancy that's more real than life."
His achievements include being enshrined in Guitar Player’s Gallery of Greats and named one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century by Musician magazine amongst numerous other awards. He enjoys the admiration of many of his fellow players and has performed/ recorded with such notables as Chet Atkins, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and others.
He was tapped by Eric Clapton to appear at the 2004 Crossroads Guitar Festival and plays his second stint of the Experience Hendrix tour in fall 2010. He has paid homage in song to such players as Jerry Reed (“Tribute to Jerry Reed” on his album Bloom), fellow Texan Stevie Ray Vaughan (the Grammy-nominated track “SRV”) and Wes Montgomery (who Johnson saluted in his Ah Via Musicom song “East Wes”), and boasts both a signature Fender Stratocaster electric and Martin MC-40 acoustic guitar. "Cliffs of Dover" is featured in the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock as the final winning challenge. And in addition to his recordings, tours and DVDs under his own name, Johnson also plays with his side project Alien Love Child, which released an in concert album in 2000, Live and Beyond, that earned an instrumental Grammy nomination for the song “Rain.”
London o2 Shepherds Bush Empire
Wednesday 3rd April
Tickets: £30 / Box Office: 0844 477 2000
Doors 7pm/ Stage 8pm
Shepherd's Bush Green, London W12 8TT
Thursday 4th April
Tickets: £25 / Box Office: 01423 502 116
Doors 7pm / Stage 7.30pm
Oxford Street, Harrogate, HG1 1QF
Edinburgh Queen's Hall
Friday 5th April
Tickets: £25 / Box Office: 0131 668 2019
85 - 89 Clerk Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9JG
Doors 6.30pm / Stage 7.30pm
Manchester Royal Northern College of Music
Saturday 6th April
Tickets: £25 / Box Office: 0161 907 5555
Doors: 7pm / Stage: 7:30pm
124 Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9RD
Birmingham Town Hall
Sunday 7th April
Tickets: £25 / Box Office: 0121 345 0600
Doors: 7:30pm / Stage: 8pm
Victoria Square, Birmingham, B3 3DQ
Salisbury City Hall
Monday 8th April
Tickets: £25 / Box Office: 01722 434 434
Doors: 7:30pm / Stage: 8pm
Malthouse Lane, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP2 7TU
Eric Johnson – Official Website
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