Johnny A Driven
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Pdf of current bio for "Driven" - click here

Bio for "one november night" - click here
Bio for "Get Inside" - click here
Bio for "Sometime Tuesday Morning" - click here

Worcester Magazine Review

Friday, April 25, 2014 at Mechanics Hall.
Steven King/Worcester Magazine

Johnny A. and his new band took the stage next, and after the first few songs, he admitted to the audience a touch of jitters, with all new band members and new songs. He need not have worried, as the band was tight as nails from the first note. Drummer Marty Richards, in particular, impressed. With no singer in the band, Johnny A. took on the difficult task of keeping the audience captive through an entire set of instrumentals. And captive they were, as Johnny blazed across the guitar neck, his fingers forming every possible chord imaginable, while controlling his many guitar effects to perfection. It was a stew of virtuosity that left the crowd in awe.
Two songs in particular stood out to me. In The Beatles' ballad “Yes It Is,” Johnny’s guitar tones were drippingly gorgeous, and playing the song instrumentally really brings out the raw beauty of the melody. “You Don’t Love Me,” the blues standard, was given a highly creative treatment, utilizing a half-time rhythm and some interesting sexy stops, combined with extreme soft/loud dynamics. Of course, Johnny A. also did his radio hit “Oh Yeah!” to perfection.

New Reviews:
Ticket to Entertainment - click here

Tri State Independent | Review of Johnny A @ The Flash-Kennett Square, PA - click here

One November Night Johnny A.
Aglaophone Records - AR-110107 (DVD / CD)

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

The hipshakin' bop to the opening cut of this DVD / CD combo lets you know what you're in for as Johnny A adopts a Harvey Mandel tone and vocabulary a la Pete Carr before setting into a Capricorn shred solo. However, though you may not have heard of him before, lemme lay a rather astonishing fact down: not only does he play some absolutely beautiful Gibsons but the company itself was so knocked out by the flatpicker's remarkable axemanship that it designed The Johnny A signature guitar, an honor very few players on the planet will ever be able to claim. And take that 'flatpicking' label with a smidgeon of salt. If you watch the DVD closely, you'll note he combines subtle fingerpicking simultaneously in many spots.

This guy doesn't vocally emit one single note but still phrases a lot like Al Jarreau sings, with all kinds of improv and righteously clever flourishes, including tone and pitch you could calibrate a tuner by. A fan of the greats, he names Hendrix as the rock guitarist of all time (damn right!), and a lot of Jimi's style enters through the side door—again, with a great deal of Southern styling atop (think Dickey Betts, Link Wray, the Atlanta Rhythm Section gentz, etc.). Serving as side man for Peter Wolf (singer, J. Geils), Bobby Whitlock, and others, Johnny nonetheless came to a point, when gigs were hard to find, where he figured it was all over and seeking new employ a must.

Then he executed a what-the-hell, releasing a solo CD a few years ago, and the little treasure sold a jaw-dropping 90,000 copies. His thinking swiftly adapted to circumstances, thank God. Recently, the Oh Yeah single topped the radio charts, the first time an instrumental had done so in 10 years, and a rather explicit confirmation of his excellence was set in stone. Part of the attraction hides in an ultra-clean playing hand matching Carlton and Ritenour while oft tending to the fiery side of the equation. Another part is in more than a few Jim Hall / Pat Martino updates of trad cats like Kessel, Ellis, and Byrd.

But, ya want shred? Ya got shred, especially on Jimi Jam, and not solely of the guitar technician variety, either, as Johnny fully understands it was Hendrix's heart and soul that produced those world-shaking sounds, not merely a mastery of scales. The DVD affords a visual take on just what that means, and I'll leave it to the reader to discover the dimension for him- / herself. One last thought, though: if Frank Marino hasn't laid ears on this guy yet, someone needs to get One November Night to him posthaste.

Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society

Guitar International - Interview with Johnny A. - click here

Guitar International - Take 5 Reviews - one november night - click here

Guitar International
"One November Night" by Johnny A.

By: Brian D Holland

Johnny A. was the exemplary sideman in the late '90s when he decided to become a solo artist. At a time when instrumental guitarists were moving toward cliche, one might wonder why he even wanted to make such a move. After all, he doesn't sing, jump around on stage, or shred a bazillion notes a minute. However, the Malden, Massachusetts, born and bred performer is one of very few, contemporary solo guitarists in particular, who can get away with a no frills, candid performance. With that said, it's because of the amazing melodies and tones he conjures from his Gibson signature Johnny A. electric guitar (as well as a couple of others). The stylish player flaunts an amazing array of techniques, each of which are used to execute a particular arrangement. And even though he's very much the architect of his own sound, his potpourri can be compared to the likes of Danny Gatton and Dick Dale at one end of the spectrum, and Jeff Beck and Jimi Hendrix at the other. He executes all of this with a down-to-earth persona and stage presence sensibility.

Johnny modestly states at the start of this DVD, "Someone once said that your style is sometimes formulated from your inabilities, whereas someone who has complete technical prowess might not end up having a voice. But someone who might not have the facility to do all of those things will find ways to get what they want to get, and in so, develop a style." He ends it saying, "That might be what happened to me." These inspirational and confidence building words can be valued by any artist. Most musicians, at one time or another, have known what it's like to be in search of their true voice and style amid the imperceptible brick wall that's present to separate limited ability from the diversity that's needed to become an appealing stylist. In watching this video, it's truly inspirational to see and hear the incredible music Johnny A. creates, while keeping in mind his ability to be a diverse soloist. I'm sure you'll agree that he's certainly a humble player, which has a lot to do with his success as well as his sound.

Scullers Jazz Club is where it's at, the Boston staple that's been home to many jazz, blues, soul, gospel, and R&B legends since 1989. Johnny, sitting stage front with his signature axe in hand, opens with his own "I Had To Laugh." A song with an indistinct blend of jazz, country, and rockabilly sounds, the instrumental melody is coerced along by Johnny's tasteful guitar voice, as well as his remarkable right hand finger and picking technique. The last note dwindles and segues nicely into "Sing Singin'," which also contains that unique Johnny A. style. He adds just the right amount of distortion and volume to these songs.

"Lullabye for Nicole," from his debut CD "Sometime Tuesday Morning," is next. Johnny explains that although the song is dedicated to his daughter of the same name, it existed in unfinished form long before she was born. Her coming into being was the inspiration for finishing the beautiful song. Reminiscent of surf guitar at times because of its strident reverberation, a potently clean guitar resonance wields the melody in a breathtaking manner. Also from the same album, a song that needs no introduction to JA fans, "Two Wheel Horse" also contains that utterly clean guitar sound and gorgeous tone.

Johnny utilizes his knack for exerting gorgeous tone into existing melodies, especially in "Walk Away Renee" and his familiar take on "Wichita Lineman." He also does a nice take on Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary." And although these songs are ideal examples of his romantic and fully clear sound, he jumps to the other end of the spectrum and awes the audience with "Jimi Jam," a dedication to his favorite rock guitarist. But the amazing instrumental does more than lay reference to Hendrix. Amid a manifold of energy levels and vibes, the multi style arrangement soars off on diverse tangents. It displays Johnny's sundry ability brilliantly, and the fact that he can rise to the dramatic level of any rock soloist.

"One November Night" is a dual-disc DVD/CD, which is how all music DVD's should be packaged. Since Johnny's in perfect form at the acoustically sound Scullers in Boston, I'm sure most would agree that it's nice that they included an audio disc as well, for the car or anywhere. After all, the music is what it's all about. Each disc contains a slightly different track listing, which adds to the appeal of the overall package.

Delaware County News Network | Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Johnny A. dazzles at World Cafe Live
Music Correspondent

Any guitarist who is held to high regard with the likes of B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and the late-great Les Paul, you think would be a household name. His mastery of the guitar, to such a high level that has been attained by few, is exceptional, but to Johnny A. it has been a completely natural evolution to defining himself instrumentally within the class.

In support of his most recent release, a live CD/DVD double that archives most of his solo career, One November Night, Johnny A. returned to the acoustically refined World Café Live in Philadelphia last Saturday night, treating fans to an intimate show.

After a tenured career playing in various bands including The Streets and Hearts on Fire, as well as duos with Peter Wolf (lead vocalist, The J. Geils Band) and Derek and The Dominos' keyboardist, Bobby Whitlock, Johnny A. began his solo career in 1999 with Sometime Tuesday Morning. The very first time he played to a Philadelphia crowd actually came when The Streets opened for Aerosmith at the Tower Theater back in 1978.

Johnny A.'s broad range and musical style at times embodies the fierceness of Jimi Hendrix and the instrumental virtuoso in Jeff Beck. The direction he takes the guitar at times is so climatic and driven, but then immediately can be brought down to the personal jazz-based level of Wes Montgomery.

Throughout the evening Johnny A. featured originals "Get Inside," "Hip Bone" and "Bundle of Joy" off of his 2004 album, Get Inside. Within his solos and runs, Johnny A. incorporated melodies and pieces from "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and The Beatles' "Eleanor Rigby."

At times where the audience seemed so silent and in awe of the legendary guitarist, Johnny A. took to more of a relaxed and open feel. "It's so quiet in here. You're like the Japanese," he jokingly said between songs.

Next, the 6-string slinger tore through an awesome version of The Beatles' "The Night Before," and a faster paced dazzling cover of Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary." Sitting atop his stool throughout the whole evening with his drummer and bassist offset to his left, Johnny A. seemed to be on his own world while he instrumentally took fans on a steep jazz-rock dive.

It was great to see such a caliber of a guitarist as Johnny A. perform live at a venue like the World Café Live. It's rare performances like these that make you get out and see great live music when it knocks on your back door. To learn more about and support this fantastic musician visit to check out his new live disc along with other great info.

Nick Gunther is an engineering student at Penn State and is a passionate music lover and avid concert reviewer.

Philadelphia Inquirer | Fri, Mar. 26, 2010

Guitar man with 'strong, clear melody'
Virtuoso Johnny A. launches a live CD and a tour.
By Nicole Pensiero

He won't say what the A. in his name stands for, but it might as well be amalgamation, since guitar virtuoso Johnny A. is known for melding various musical styles into his songs with the same ease that he plays his signature model Gibson.

The Boston-based musician is a dazzling yet unassuming talent, the kind of musician who has built a fervent fan base through effortless fretboard skills, word-of-mouth buzz, and relentless touring.

And while in a single song he can shift from a jazzy chord melody to straight-on blues to lightning rock riffs, flash and speed are not the point, he says: "What's most important is that every song has a strong, clear melody." His earliest influences - Chet Atkins, Les Paul, and Wes Montgomery - were known for what he calls "vocally based guitar music," and in that same tradition, the former Peter Wolf sideman lets "the guitar be the vocalist," as he puts it.

A seasoned road warrior since the release of his 1999 solo debut, Sometime Tuesday Morning, Johnny A. had been asked by fans for years to consider putting out a live album: "They say they love the records, but that there's a different energy - a certain rawness - to the live shows."

But when approached last fall by a Chicago filmmaker-producer, he initially shied away from the idea, concerned about the room's acoustics and his own post-tour road weariness. Finally, a deal was struck. As long as he "didn't have to feel the equipment around me" and the rough cut looked and sounded good, he'd move forward with the project. Hence, the just-released concert CD/DVD, One November Night.

Assisted by longtime bassist Jesse Bastos and drummer Ron Stewart, Johnny A. is launching a two-month tour with back-to-back Philly-area shows this weekend to plug the self-released effort, which shows off his unfailingly melodic playing on everything from an emotive cover of Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman" to his let-it-rip original Hendrix-inspired "Jimi Jam." "Over the years, I've gotten more comfortable in my own skin onstage," he said. "The best way to describe it is that my playing's gotten looser and tighter at the same time."

Premier Guitar
Media Preview April 10, 2010

Johnny A.- One November Night
Guitarists with a distinctive sound are as rare as natural beauty in Hollywood. Since going strictly instrumental, Johnny A. has quickly joined the rarified ranks of players like Jeff Beck, Bill Frisell, and Carlos Santana, as far as being recognizable from the first note. He has created a unique voice through a mix of idiosyncratic arrangements, running his Marshall heads direct, and ultimately designing his own guitar (with the Custom Shop crew at Gibson).

A number of those guitars are displayed and played on the DVD One November Night, along with the passionate but controlled picking of this former Peter Wolf sideman. Bassist Jesse Bastos and drummer Chris Farr demonstrate how a well-rehearsed, supportive rhythm section adds much to the show. And a show it is; despite being welded to his stool, and the absence of computerized lighting or smoke effects, A. demonstrates that superb playing, great tone, and thoughtful pacing are enough to keep an audience's interest. Sure it is his hometown crowd, but the intimate club performance leaps off the screen, putting you right in the front row at Boston's Scullers Jazz Club.

The package features a DVD and a CD. All but one of the DVD's tunes - a version of "Walk Away Renee" played in the great outdoors- is offered on the CD. Four of the tunes on the CD are replaced on the DVD by short interview segments largely devoted to general biographical information rather than gear or performance talk. Still, players will not be disappointed; the sound is excellent and the camera angles amply reveal both left hand and right hand techniques providing an unexpected Johnny A. lesson.

Even more unusual than a distinctive sound, is an instrumental guitarist whose appeal extends beyond other guitarists. Johnny A.'s magic crosses over because, like Frisell, he doesn't just play guitar - he plays music. - MR

Guitar Edge
April 2010
JOHNNY A. One November Night (Aglaophone) **** Stars

Recorded live at Schullers Jazz Club in Johnny A.'s hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, One November Night showcases Johnny's incongruously silky yet raucous style in top form. The set comes in a DVD/CD package; the DVD contains nine songs, plus a bonus track and commentary from Johnny interspersed between songs, whereas the CD contains 13 tracks.

Johnny seamlessly blends country, jazz, pop, and rock sounds similar to a slightly less fiery Les Paul or Chet Atkins, or, at times, Eric Johnson. The set opens with the country-tinged "I Had to Laugh," injected with just enough rock flavor to get you juiced. "Lullaby for Nicole," a ballad named for his daughter, is a beautiful, countrified jazzy blues. Johnny goes all country on us in "Tex Critter" before unleashing a Texas-flavored firestorm on "Two Wheel Horse."

The highlight of the show, however, is closing track "Jimi Jam," with which Johnny tears the roof off the place, his searing lines and timely quotations alternately paying tribute to his idols Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and of course, the big one, Jimi Hendrix.

Throughout, Johnny expertly wields dynamics and subtle effects to coax an amazing variety of tones from his signaturemodel Gibson guitar. And much like the aforementioned Paul, Atkins, and Johnson (and unlike too many others), Johnny's music is accessible enough to appeal to a wide-ranging audience and sophisticated enough to hold their interest.

Highlights: "Lullaby for Nicole," "Two Wheel Horse," "Krea Grata," "Jimi Jam"

Fame Review
One November Night
Johnny A.
Aglaophone Records - AR-110107 (DVD / CD)
Available from Johnny A's web site.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

The hipshakin' bop to the opening cut of this DVD / CD combo lets you know what you're in for as Johnny A adopts a Harvey Mandel tone and vocabulary a la Pete Carr before setting into a Capricorn shred solo. However, though you may not have heard of him before, lemme lay a rather astonishing fact down: not only does he play some absolutely beautiful Gibsons but the company itself was so knocked out by the flatpicker's remarkable axemanship that it designed The Johnny A signature guitar, an honor very few players on the planet will ever be able to claim. And take that 'flatpicking' label with a smidgeon of salt. If you watch the DVD closely, you'll note he combines subtle fingerpicking simultaneously in many spots.

This guy doesn't vocally emit one single note but still phrases a lot like Al Jarreau sings, with all kinds of improv and righteously clever flourishes, including tone and pitch you could calibrate a tuner by. A fan of the greats, he names Hendrix as the rock guitarist of all time (damn right!), and a lot of Jimi's style enters through the side door-again, with a great deal of Southern styling atop (think Dickey Betts, Link Wray, the Atlanta Rhythm Section gentz, etc.). Serving as side man for Peter Wolf (singer, J. Geils), Bobby Whitlock, and others, Johnny nonetheless came to a point, when gigs were hard to find, where he figured it was all over and seeking new employ a must.

Then he executed a what-the-hell, releasing a solo CD a few years ago, and the little treasure sold a jaw-dropping 90,000 copies. His thinking swiftly adapted to circumstances, thank God. Recently, the Oh Yeah single topped the radio charts, the first time an instrumental had done so in 10 years, and a rather explicit confirmation of his excellence was set in stone. Part of the attraction hides in an ultra-clean playing hand matching Carlton and Ritenour while oft tending to the fiery side of the equation. Another part is in more than a few John Hall / Pat Martino updates of trad cats like Kessel, Ellis, and Byrd.

But, ya want shred? Ya got shred, especially on Jimi Jam, and not solely of the guitar technician variety, either, as Johnny fully understands it was Hendrix's heart and soul that produced those world-shaking sounds, not merely a mastery of scales. The DVD affords a visual take on just what that means, and I'll leave it to the reader to discover the dimension for him- / herself. One last thought, though: if Frank Marino hasn't laid ears on this guy yet, someone needs to get One November Night to him posthaste.

Sound Off | Charleston, SC - The Post and Courier
Thursday, March 4, 2010

Johnny A. One November Night (Aglaophone Records) While a lot is written and discussed about guitar heroes, there are relatively few musicians who truly deserve the label of guitar god. Clapton, King, Hendrix, Van Halen, Santana, the good ones can be identified by their last names. Johnny A. might not quite have achieved deity status, but there is no doubt the guy knows his way around a guitar. He has played with more than a few of the masters, and impressed the folks at Gibson enough that they designed a signature Johnny A. model guitar. Johnny A. is one of those guitarists who can wield his instrument and make the need for a human voice unnecessary. On his latest album, "One November Night," Johnny A. responds to fans who have been requesting a live album. In addition to his own compositions, Johnny A. performs instrumental versions of songs by Jimi Hendrix ("The Wind Cries Mary"), The Beatles ("The Night Before"), and Chuck Berry ("Memphis, Tennessee"). The package also includes a DVD that features nine of the CD's 13 tracks, plus a bonus song not included on the CD.

Download These: "Sing Singin'," "The Wind Cries Mary," "Lullabye for Nicole"

Nashville Blues Society
March 4, 2010 - Thursday



Guitar virtuoso Johnny A. was born in Malden, MA, and spent several years as a sideman with former J. Geils frontman Peter Wolf before embarking on his highly-successful solo career. He possesses the rare ability to convey every aspect of human emotion without singing a note, allowing his guitar to capture the essence of these feelings thru deft use of space, tone, technique, and just plain ol' soul. There have only been a handful of pickers that can channel so much passion in only their playing, so to be mentioned alongside folks such as Hendrix, Les Paul, Chet Atkins and Wes Montgomery is quite an achievement!

His latest release on Aglaophone Records is a CD/DVD combo entitled "One November Night," and was culled from a live performance at Sculler's in Boston, in front of a hometown crowd. He's joined on bass by Jesse Bastos and on drums by Chris Farr, and they run thru thirteen tracks on the CD (ten on the hour-long DVD) that gives the listener an idea of just how good Johnny A. really is. His passion for the stylings of Les Paul plus his affinity for Gibson guitars led the legendary Nashville manufacturer to craft the Johnny A. Signature model in 2003. Company execs lauded his professionalism and attention to detail in design techniques in suggesting ideas for this model.

The set kicks off with the lively "I Had To Laugh," and draws from his previous two solo albums, "Sometime Tuesday Morning" and "Get Inside." Other notable cuts are his ethereal take on "The Wind Cries Mary," and two cuts which he had never recorded--a blistering "Memphis," featuring a cool nod to Bo Diddley, and a sweet take on the Beatles' "The Night Before." There's even a touch of "twang," courtesy of "Tex Critter" and "Ignorance Is Bliss."

We had two favorites, too. The closing cut of the CD is entitled "Jimi Jam," and draws from the stylings of Hendrix, Clapton, and others to whom he listened while growing up. Astute listeners will catch a snippet of "Paint It Black" during this cut. And, the DVD closes with a breathtaking solo rendition of The Left Banke's "Walk Away Renee'," recorded outdoors against the backdrop of a gorgeous New England sunset.

Johnny A. thinks like a singer, letting his fingers explore the melody, and improvises and composes with the melody foremost in mind. Sit back and enjoy "One November Night" to experience a brilliant player definitely at the top of his game!

Until next time..... Sheryl and Don

Guitarist Johnny A. is giving back to those who inspired him

He's not a blues guitarist, although he sometimes bends stinging notes like B.B. King.

Nor is he a jazz guitarist, although there are elements of Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell in his music. And Johnny A. is certainly not a pure rock guitarist a la Eddie Van Halen or Steve Vai.

"What dictates what I do," he says, "is the song that I'm playing."

For Johnny A., who performs Monday at Club Cafe on the South Side, that means no genre is off limits. The veteran guitarist has released two stellar instrumental albums, "Sometime Tuesday Morning" (1999) and "Get Inside" (2004). Filled with original songs and covers -- notably, he has recorded Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman" and "The Wind Cries Mary" by Jimi Hendrix -- the releases illustrate Johnny A.'s versatility.

His approach to recording, however, is one of consistency.

"I don't really approach writing instrumentals any differently than I approach writing music with lyrics," he says. "Prior to this foray into instrumental land, prior to 'Sometime Tuesday Morning,' all the songs I wrote were for bands, for artists who were vocally based. So my approach to writing doesn't change.

"Regarding the moods of the album, the thing that might change is realizing that it is instrumental and that most people do respond mostly to lyrics and voice. I think I have to be very cognizant that the material has to have a variety, just to keep the listener from getting bored."

Thus the ever-changing emotional swings, subtle but notable shifts between introspection and release. And an affinity for the songs that Johnny A. heard as a kid growing up outside of Boston -- as evidenced by the Webb and Hendrix covers, and Johnny Rivers' "Poor Side of Town" on "Get Inside."

"I was learning and listening to a lot of the radio of the day, and these were songs, or artists, that have stuck with me my whole life and taught me things," he says. "These songs have always been my friends, and it's just a way for me to, one, re-create something that meant a lot to me as a kid, and two, it's my way of paying back the artist that did inspire me."

While he's paying homage, Johnny A. also recognizes the need to put his own imprint on such material. Thus, "The Wind Cries Mary" is completely reinvented in his hands. The melody's innate sadness is transformed into a melancholic optimism. He admits he couldn't even begin to approximate the Hendrix version of the song, and instead imagined it as a meeting between the legendary guitarist and jazz great Miles Davis.

"Doing a classic performance of a classic song doesn't really make sense," Johnny A. says. "Why try to re-create something that's already almost perfection in my eyes? But that doesn't mean a song that inspired me, I can't take and try to make my own."

Regis Behe
Thursday, March 23, 2006

Guitar wizard brings his technical mastery to Nashville club
Nashville TN

Nothing pleases guitar wizard Johnny A. more than simply being deemed a "master musician." This seemingly generic description accurately communicates the essence of Johnny A.'s playing, because the man is someone who truly loves all genres and idioms.

"I'm not trying to come off sounding politically correct here," he said. "But I get just as big a thrill out of hearing Albert Lee and Jeff Beck as I do Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall or Chet Atkins and Les Paul. My music isn't necessarily jazz or blues or country or rock ‘n' roll, but all those things are a part of it. For me, it starts with a great song. That's where I really get inspired, hearing a great song and then working off it."

Guitarists and fans around the world have been impressed with Johnny A.'s great talents. He is among the elite group of guitarists that have had a Signature Edition guitar designed by Gibson's Custom Shop per their specific request (others on that list include Pat Martino, B.B. King, Joe Perry, Montgomery and Atkins). His prior releases Get Inside and Sometime Tuesday Morning also easily skirt categorization, with examples of relentless jazz-fusion cuts, brisk country pieces, surging and slow blues, and frenetic rock numbers, all of them delivered in a flawless fashion that makes it seem almost too easy. The compositions and solo mastery represent a stylistic evolution that dates back to his teen years, when he embraced the guitar after being wowed by seeing the Beatles at Suffolk Downs in 1966.

Currently featured on an instructional guitar DVD and now working on a live CD/DVD, Johnny A. is essentially a self-taught player. He did spend a semester and a half at the Berklee School of Music during the ‘70s, but cites that as a period that showed him the flaws of taking a rigid attitude toward playing.

"They wanted me to play bop and at the time had a very restrictive curriculum," he said. "I wanted to be out playing as a professional and wasn't that interested in just sticking with theory. Now I partly regret having dropped out because it would be nice to be more well schooled in some of the theoretical aspects, but the great thing about that is that I learned my own style and developed my own sound."

Ron Wynn
March 22, 2006

Tone Quest Report- The Players Guide to Ultimate Tone

Johnny is the cover story in the September 2005 issue of Tone Quest Report- The Players Guide to Ultimate Tone. Click here for the full story...

Johnny A.
Southgate House
Newport, Kentucky
November 11, 2005

Pairing two iconoclastic guitarists proved to be a masterstroke on November 11 at Newport, Kentucky's Southgate House. Johnny A. and headliner Sonny Landreth share a passion for the blues and pushing the limits of the guitar.

Johnny A., former sideman for J. Geils Band front man Peter Wolf, has created such range on the instrument that Gibson created a special model just for him. His performance leaned heavily on material from his 2004 release, Get Inside. A towering, echo laden reverberation shook the Southgate as he leaned back to search for the elusive notes on "Hip Bone." Johnny Rivers' "Poor Side of Town" found Johnny A. lightly fingering the fret board as drummer Chris Farr added featherlike accompaniment, extending the standard into a dreamlike canvas of rich musical crescendos. Bassist Jesse Bastos rhythmic funk spiced up the reworked Hendrix number, "The Wind Cries Mary." Spending the majority of the performance seated on a stool, Johnny A.'s alluring sound drew the audience in as they marveled at the Boston area phenomenon tearing through the power riffs of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love."

Two distinctive and very different approaches to guitar mastery made for a rewarding experience at Newport Kentucky's Southgate House on November 11. –Bill Whiting

Johnny A. Canal Street Tavern
Dayton, Ohio March, 21st, 2005

It's the third time in four years that Boston guitar phenom Johnny A. has visited Dayton's Canal Street Tavern and finally this weekend's gig resulted in the type of turnout this exceptional guitarist deserves. The full-house was treated to a myriad of stylings and musical emotions that only Johnny A. can deliver. Playing a beautiful trans-black quilt top Johnny A. signature Gibson guitar through his trademark 30th Anniversary Marshall combos, the sound was simply perfect and the playing was stellar. John ripped through classics from his highly praised first solo album "Sometime Tuesday Morning" such as "Two Wheeled Horse" and "Oh Yeah" demonstrating his skills as a rock guitarist extraordinaire.

Recognize the "rock guitarist label" for what it is as this guy can't be pigeon-holed quite so easily. Johnny A. reeks of diversity in his musical styling and his ability to switch genre gears is unequalled. From his tune "Tex Critter", a tribute to guitarist Chet Atkins, to covering Chuck Berry's "Memphis", his musical geography lesson appeals to nearly all persuasions. His original compositions are musically sophisticated and his ability to translate his CD catalog's high quality sound through his live show is masterful. The tunes on his newest release "Get Inside" provide an edgier, street savvy feel presented by an artist who's working hard and paying serious dues to get his music to the masses.

His live presentation of his bluesy "Krea Gata" was filled with creative licks and had all the power and feeling of Led Zeppelin's "Since I've Been Loving You". His spin on Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary" was a creative and reverent tribute to someone Johnny A. regards as one of his "teachers". His soulful rendition of "Wichita Lineman" showcases just what can be done with and electric guitar in the hands of a virtuoso.

JA proved it's not all about speed and velocity. Bassist Jesse Bastos and Drummer Chris Farr enthusiastically provided the essential bottom end for Johnny A. They provided an excellent lesson in attention to detail and timing as John often cut loose a barrage of guitar acrobatics improvising as he went, yet Bastos and Farr never missed a beat.

From sound quality, to musical skill, this is a guy who is destined to be recognized as one of the best players of all time. It's not surprising that this guy played Clapton's Crossroads Festival and has worked with legends like B.B. King and Jeff Beck. Visit for new and information about gigs and if you get the chance get out there and see this band live.

Chris Arnold
Guitar Digest

Dallas Observer CRITICS' PICKS
Johnny A. Thursday, December 2

Soft-speaking, Harley-riding guitarist Johnny A. grew up listening to Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix before cutting his teeth leading a short string of blues-rock bands. But the Bostonian bluesman really came of age in the early '90s as a member of J. Geils Band front man Peter Wolf's Houseparty 5. Everything he learned about supporting a song by knowing when to show off (and, more important, when not to) has been incorporated into his now elegant style. Get Inside, A.'s most recent solo album, is a blend of smooth rock, jazz and blues tied together by a sweet, low tone and a constant emphasis on melody. The combination makes for a respectful version of Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary," but, hell, with tone like that, A. even makes "Wichita Lineman" sound cool.

By Sander Wolf
Published: Thursday, December 2, 2004

Johnny A.
Favored Nations

It's been a while since we have seen an accomplished blues guitarist like Johnny A. Now, don't go expecting something like Stevie Ray Vaughan or Joe Satriani here. Johnny A could almost be considered AOR blues. And don't let that scare you away either because this musician deserves to be heard. Get Inside is a well put-together piece of work. It is blues, primarily but it is super accessible. Your mom will probably even like this stuff. All of the tracks on Get Inside were written by Johnny A except for "Poor Side Of Town", a smoking rendition of the Johnny River track, and "The Wind Cries Mary" of Jimi Hendrix origin. What guitar album would be complete without a Hendrix track? Johnny is fairly new in the solo artist field. He has released his debut, Sometime Tuesday Morning, to adoring fans and Get Inside is his long-awaited follow-up. It's a smoking album showcasing some very fine guitar playing. Johnny knows that it isn't how fast you play but the transition from note to note as well as the space between. This is an album that guitarists will totally enjoy, others should appreciate it too. There is a reason Steve Vai chose him to release an album on his label.

by Dennis Scanland
Review date: 2004-04-27

Johnny A./Gitarrist: Die Stimme als Stil - Gitarre & Bass
Gitarre & Bass Magazine Germany 05/2004

Der Mann ist bekannt wie ein bunter Hund: Steven Tyler, B.B. King, Neal Schon, Waddy Wachtel, Gilby Clarke, Albert King, Bill Wyman, Peter Wolf, Bonnie Raitt Ò mit vielen hat der Bostoner Gitarrist schon auf der B½hne gestanden und dabei demonstriert, was er unter gef½hlvoller Gitarrenarbeit versteht. Johnny A weiœ, was er tut. Das zeigt er auch auf seinem neuen Album ,Get InsideÎ. Um zwei Sachen macht der Mann mit der eigenwilligen Rasiertechnik ein Geheimnis: Um sein Alter und seinen Nachnamen. Griechische Vorfahren hat er, soviel r"umt Mr. A ein. In Massachusetts geboren und in Boston aufgewachsen, z"hlt er inzwischen zu den Lokalmatadoren der Ostk½stenmetropole. Dort hat er sich einen hervorragenden Ruf als Sideman erspielt, u. a. f½r Peter Wolf (J. Geils Band), dessen Bandleader er war. Mit ,Sometime Tuesday MorningÎ erf½llte sich Johnny A 2000 den Traum vom Solo-Album. ‹Ich wollte endlich Credits f½r eigene Songs bekommen", sagt er. ‹Aber da ein S"nger immer den Sound einer Band pr"gt, habe ich mich entschlossen, Instrumental-Songs zu schreiben. Denn ich will diesmal die Stimme sein, mit meiner Gitarre." Das zeigt er auch auf seinem neuen Album ,Get InsideÎ. Wir haben die Einladung angenommen und Johnny A. ausf½hrlich befragt ...

story Stefan Woldach

Guitar Ace Johnny A. Builds Home Studio
Mix Magazine

A home studio can be a blessing and a curse for a workaholic. Guitar virtuoso Johnny A.'s newish project room allows him to write and record on his own schedule, which typically begins at the crack of dawn and continues on and off into the night. Every recording situation has its pros and cons, Johnny A. says. The pros about doing recordings at home are that you can catch magic moments because you're in a totally relaxed state. The cons are that you have this stuff at your disposal all the time and you can get into a routine where you feel you're never finished.

However, Johnny A. doesn't seem to suffer from that endlessly-getting-sounds disease. He is as disciplined as he is talented, and has just released his second instrumental album, Get Inside, on Steve Vai's Favored Nations Entertainment label. Vai discovered Johnny A. when his previous album, Sometime Tuesday Morning, which Johnny A. self-released, became a surprise success in the Northeast. The first album was conceived in a relaxed atmosphere, in that I did not have a record deal at the time, he explains. I never thought I would get a record deal with what I was doing, and it was more like I had the opportunity to record and I wanted to celebrate my influences and not make any musical or audio compromises.

One thing led to another, and it became this regional thing that was very successful and very grass roots, selling close to 9,000 or 10,000 copies, he continues. And then it got picked up by Steve Vai and went international. In the back of your mind, you hope to be successful at anything you do, but I had no delusions of grandeur thinking that I would put this out and it would be the next Classical Gas, Mason Williams' million-selling instrumental record. In fact, the album and Johnny A.'s playing have been so widely admired that Gibson released a Johnny A. signature guitar, which received drooling raves in the December 2003 issue of Guitar Player magazine.

The success of Sometime Tuesday Morning allowed Johnny A. to acoustically improve his recording room, which is in the 10×15-foot attic space of the two-flat building that he owns. The studio began as a writing room, outfitted with a Roland VS-2480 workstation and KRK V8 monitors, but when he wanted to take the room to the next level, he contacted Auralex Acoustics for materials and design advice.

I called them and they ended up being fans, Johnny A. recalls. I guess the radio station where they are [WTTS in Indianapolis] played my music a lot, and we struck up a great friendship and they offered to design the room. They flew Rusty Sulzmann out here, and they did the whole studio the bass traps, the DST panels, the wedges, sunburst columns and it just sounds great. They also did a great job with all the mitered cuts that go into the dormered ceiling line and slanted wall line. The room is beautiful and comfortable.

Johnny A. recorded demos of all the new songs at home and then went to Boston Skyline studio to self-produce the drums, bass and guitar recordings, which were engineered by Dave Lefkowitz. Johnny A. recorded direct from his amplifier (a Marshall 6100 head) through a vintage Neve 1058 mic pre which he scored from his old friend Fletcher of Mercenary Audio and then straight into the back of the Studer A827 2-inch machine in the studio's A room. Then, all of the tracks were transferred to a Pro Tools|HD system; horns and Hammond organ parts were recorded directly to Pro Tools. He brought an identical Pro Tools system home, where he and engineer Bob Catalano edited and created premixes of the basic tracks and then recorded some percussion overdubs. Phil Greene and Johnny A. did the final mix in Pro Tools, making use of the SSL 4000E (with G computer) to a Studer A80 RC at Unique Recording in New York City. Johnny A. was also on hand for the final mastering by Scott Hull at Hit Factory Mastering.

Promotional touring has just begun for Get Inside, but Johnny A. is already excited about a third album. What I probably will decide to do is go into a really great studio and record the drums and immediately transfer them to whatever the digital greatness of the day is lease or buy one of those rigs and then do my guitars and everything else at home.

As far as audio goes, he continues, I'm a self-taught mixer and producer. I'm not a technician; it's all feel. I have a high expectation of things I like to listen to, and I put that same critical thinking into my own music.

By Barbara Schultz
Mix Magazine, Mar 1, 2004

Great Music from Great Musicians... Johnny A "Get Inside"
Eyez on Music - Reviews and Opinion
An effort to introduce great music and share the influence and inspiration of talented songwriters.

Get inside, put your seatbelt on, and enjoy the ride. You'll cruise by quaint country scenes, race a train skirting rolling hills and rustic mountains. You'll make it all the way to Nashville via gritty city streets past all the coolest jazz and rock clubs. That's where you'll go when you put "Get Inside", a slick offering from Johnny A, in your CD player.

As it states on his biography page at "This is music for an open mind aching for the open road."

What was that, did Mark Knopfler cameo on this CD? No, but there is an unmistakable, however subtle, Knopflerish quality to Johnny A's playing on some tracks. Still, Johnny A's playing is completely his own, incredibly versatile, refreshing and new, with plenty of smooth grooves and tricks to keep your ears busy. Johnny A. is one of the most talented guitarists I've ever heard.

Get Inside is a well produced collection of instrumental guitar tracks that conjure a variety of mental images. One thing that cannot be ignored about his playing is the incredibly clean picking and colorful phrasing. As a guitarist, there are moments in this CD that make me say, "How the heck did he do that?"

Excuse me while I go lock myself away with my guitar for another twenty years. Good, inspiring guitar playing for the inspirable guitar lover. Add it to your collection now!

Johnny A. Profile on MTV Germany

"Meine Aufgabe war, meine eigene Stimme zu finden. Ich hatte nie die M-glichkeit, mein Songwriting und mein Gitarrenspiel zusammen zu f½gen und als eine Einheit zu gestalten. Ich wollte keinen Leads"nger, denn die Stimme des S"ngers ist die Stimme der Band. Diesmal wollte ich derjenige mit der Stimme sein," erkl"rt Johnny A die Entstehung seines ersten Soloalbums in einem Interview.

Als 1999 "Sometime Tuesday Morning" bei einem kleinen Independent-Label auf dem US-amerikanischen Markt erscheint, hat A bereits eine lange musikalische Karriere hinter sich. In Salem, Massachussetts geboren, tritt er Anfang der 80er Jahre mit unterschiedlichen Combos verst"rkt in der Bostoner Clubszene auf. Sehr erfolgreich ist er dabei nicht, doch verschafft ihm sein K-nnen Zugang zu Bands wie Aerosmith oder Huey Lewis & The News.

Einen Namen macht er sich als Studiomusiker vor allem in den 90er Jahren in der Band von Peter Wolf, dem S"nger der J. Geils Band. Die erste Zusammenarbeit, "Long Line" aus dem Jahre 1996, wird von A mitproduziert und erzielt unter Kritikern einen beachtlichen Erfolg. Der Gedanke zur Aufnahme einer Platte unter eigenem Namen entsteht w"hrend einer Tourpause. Das selbst produzierte, rein instrumentale Ergebnis heiœt "Sometime Tuesday Morning" und besteht aus einer Mischung aus eigenem Material und Covern, die sich zwischen Blues und Rock'n'Roll in einer rauchig angejazzten Atmosph"re ansiedelt.

Die erstaunlich guten Verkaufszahlen (7000 Exemplare in Nordosten der USA) sowie die Nominierung f½r das beste Deb½talbum beim Boston Music Award wecken die Aufmerksamkeit des Gitarristen Steve Vai, der A Unterschlupf bei seinem Label Favored Nation bietet. So ist der weltweite Vertrieb gesichert, "Sometime Tuesday Morning" erscheint 2001 auch in Deutschland.

Weitaus professioneller gestaltet sich As Zweitling "Get Inside", der im April 2004 auf den Markt kommt. Zu seinem Begleitduo an Schlagzeug und Bass gesellen sich Saxophon und Hammond-Orgel, neben eigenen St½cken interpretiert er auch Johnny Rivers "Poor Side Of time" und Jimi Hendrix' "The Wind Cries Mary".

"Erst jetzt verstehe ich die Wichtigkeit, L½cken zu lassen und Noten weg zu nehmen ... Je reifer ein Gitarrist wird, desto mehr l"sst er sich von seinem Gef½hl leiten," erkl"rt Ritchie Blackmore in einem Interview. Und beschreibt damit Qualit"ten, die Johnny A zweifellos besitzt.

Guitarist Johnny A., Getting Everybody's Licks In

Johnny A. has his own signature guitar -- a stylish Gibson equipped with tremolo bar -- and seemingly scores of signature guitar sounds at his fingertips. If he had trouble focusing on a particular style as a budding musician, the attention deficit is paying off handsomely now.

At the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis on Wednesday night, the Boston-bred virtuoso, who toured with singer Peter Wolf in the mid-'90s, casually set into motion a parade of champions. Seated on a stool and playing a colorful collection of original pieces and cover tunes in a trio setting, he affectionately saluted or slyly evoked Jimi Hendrix, Chet Atkins, Wes Montgomery, Chuck Berry, Duane Eddy and several other guitar icons without sounding overly derivative or tiresomely retro. "The Wind Cries Mary," for instance, cleverly combined Hendrix's patented use of an extended chord with a clipped funk beat, while "Tex Critter," a homage to Atkins, nimbly recalled the master's lighthearted and melodic touch.

Like many of his role models, Johnny A. is clearly more interested in establishing a mood than soloing, though he occasionally tore through some blues-rooted riffs. Imaginatively arranged ballads punctuated the show, with "Poor Side of Town" and "Wichita Lineman" creating atmospheric interludes. The guitarist, well versed in sophisticated harmonies and thumb-stroked octaves, also ventured into jazz territory with plenty of help from bassist Jesse Bastos and drummer Chris Farr.

The inevitable calls for an encore inspired a performance of "Memphis, Tennessee" that managed to pay tribute to Berry, Johnny Rivers and Bo Diddley in one fully entertaining swoop.

Mike Joyce
The Washington Post
April 22, 2005

Johnny A. to Rock Dayton

Boston-based songwriter/musician Johnny A. is one of those guitar heroes that music fans across the country can't stop talking about.

Johnny A. is a seasoned guitarist who is in the same league as other guitar heavyweights such as Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Steve Lukather, Neal Schon and others. He performs at Dayton's Canal Street Tavern Saturday night.

He started off this year jamming at an industry gig (at the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Winter Trade Show) with some of the guitar world's leading players, including Lukather (Toto), Albert Lee (Eric Clapton, Everly Brothers, Emmylou Harris), and John Petrucci (Dream Theatre) as he played onstage with the legendary James Burton (Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, The Shindogs) at Muriel Anderson's All-Star Guitar Night in Anaheim, Calif.

Following that performance, he hit the road and toured the west coast in January. He returned home and was invited to sit in with legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb at his recent show at Sculler's Jazz Club in Cambridge, Mass. Webb wrote "Wichita Lineman," one of the songs Johnny A covers on his 2000-01 solo debut "Sometime Tuesday Morning."

Because of his years in the music business and vast amount of experience as a player, Johnny A. recognizes his own talent, but he's pretty unassuming when asked about his playing skills. You won't find him possessing the typical ego one might expect to come with the territory.

"Chasing the rock star dream, that's not what it's about for me. It's really about being able to do what I love doing,'' said Johnny A. "My approach as a guitarist, as far as what I do instrumentally, I'm more interested in the songs. My guitar playing revolves around songwriting, song arranging and song production, as opposed to the songs being a forum for my guitar to solo. It's not really about that (for me). I'm more about delivering a song, more than I am delivering a shredding guitar solo."

As a largely self-taught guitar player who initially played drums, Johnny A. has started several of his own bands like Hearts on Fire and Johnny A's Hidden Secret, where he played lead guitar, sang, and wrote his own songs. He went on to support more established, big-name, touring musicians, as when he played for former J. Geils Band frontman Peter Wolf's Houseparty 5 in the mid-1990s.

After his work with Wolf ended, Johnny A. decided to spend the majority of his time developing his own guitar voice and writing songs. He independently released "Sometime Tuesday Morning" on his own, selling more than 8,500 copies, before it caught the attention of Favored Nations Entertainment label head, Steve Vai.

Since then, "Sometime Tuesday Morning" has been re-released by Favored Nations. That album and his latest release, "Get Inside," (2004, Favored Nations), showcase Johnny A.'s unique instrumental guitar voice and reflect his ability to consistently deliver well-crafted, inspiring songs.

Johnny A. admitted his guitar stylings reflect a variety of musical tastes, from Latin and jazz to blues, country and rock.

"I've been influenced by a lot of different styles of music and a lot of different guitar players, everyone from Jimi Hendrix and George Harrison and Jeff Beck to Chet Atkins and Wes Montgomery," he said. "My musicality and my musical taste has always been that diverse, I like my albums to be (just as) diverse. I like diversion, especially in instrumental music, because I think it is important to keep the audience inspired and excited, too. Instrumentally, it can sometimes be tough to do that, so I like to mix it up a lot."

Citing personal career highlights, Johnny A. said that having his very own Gibson Signature Guitar is exciting.

"On one end of the spectrum, it was winning my first battle of the bands when I was 11 or 12 years old. But, another (more recent) personal accomplishment is being able to have a Gibson Signature Guitar and meeting some of my own heroes like Les Paul," he said.

Johnny A. is touring extensively in support of "Get Inside," and is gearing up to head to Pittsburgh to shoot his long-awaited instructional DVD for Warner Bros. Publications, which is scheduled to release in July. The DVD will consist of performance footage of Johnny A. with his band. In addition, he will be interviewed, explaining his approach to music, tone and gear, as well as demonstrating some of his unique signature guitar stylings.

Ginny McCabe
The Middletown Journal

Johnny A.
Favored Nations

Soft-speaking, Harley-riding guitarist Johnny A. grew up listening to Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix before cutting his teeth leading a short string of blues-rock bands. But the Bostonian bluesman really came of age in the early '90s as a member of J. Geils Band front man Peter Wolf's Houseparty 5. Everything he learned about supporting a song by knowing when to show off (and, more important, when not to) has been incorporated into his now elegant style. Get Inside, A.'s most recent solo album, is a blend of smooth rock, jazz and blues tied together by a sweet, low tone and a constant emphasis on melody. The combination makes for a respectful version of Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary," but, hell, with tone like that, A. even makes "Wichita Lineman" sound cool.

Sander Wolf
Dallas Observer
December 2, 2004

Johnny A.
Favored Nations

Former Peter Wolf guitarist Johnny A. has technique to spare, but as many of his peers can tell you, great chops and eight bucks will get you a new set of strings. What sets this picker apart are his taste and tastes -- two things that become increasingly evident as he smoothly glides back and forth across blues, jazz, country and rock borderlines on his second collection of instrumentals, "Get Inside."

Favoring a hollow-body electric guitar and supported by a solid five-piece band, he is a sucker for some classic sounds: bent-note blues and spaghetti western twang, jazz-inspired octave runs and hip modulations, finger-picked chords and flat-picked crescendos. Yet as diverse as the moods are here -- from the Chet Atkins-like "Bundle of Joy" to the CD's psychedelic-tinged title track -- the guitarist never sounds as if he's merely indulging stylistic whims. The original tunes are well crafted and often melodically alluring. What's more, two cover tunes easily rank among the highlights: a haunting reprise of the Johnny Rivers hit "Poor Side of Town" and a rhythmically realigned version of Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary," an imaginative take briefly tinted with fusion-era shades of Miles Davis.

It's also refreshing to find a blues-bred guitarist who isn't trying to sell himself as singer-songwriter. Content to be a tunesmith, Johnny A. lets his guitar speak for him with eloquence and spirit.

Mike Joyce
The Washington Post

Johnny A.
Favored Nations

Guitar heroes typically come in two varieties: Hot or cool. The hot ones are usually those techno-whizkids with flying fingers who cram six trillion notes into every bar (think Steve Vai). The cool ones tend to be older cats who play fewer notes with a lot more soul (think B.B. King). Somewhere between those extremes, you'll find Boston axeman and ex-Peter Wolf sideman Johnny A. And on his sophomore CD Get Inside, you'll find a dozen jazzy instrumentals that bridge the guitar-hero gap. On one hand, it's clear Johnny is a master player - his picking is clean and precise, his attack is crisp and pointed, and he has superb control over tone, sustain and vibrato. If we had to name names, we'd call him a cross between Jeff Beck, Chet Atkins and Walter Becker. But instead of showing off his skills, he uses them in service of his songs, eschewing pyrotechnic wankery for understated, burbling solos and brisk percussive chording. And he isn't afraid to put a unique stamp on an overdone chestnut like Hendrix's The Wind Cries Mary, which he revamps with a percolating funk-jazz vibe. Only time will tell if he'll become a true guitar hero. But right now, Johnny A. is a musician who resists easy categorization, and that's always cool by us.

Darryl Sterdan
London Free Press
Calgary Sun
April 24, 2004

Johnny A.
Favored Nations

When Johnny A.'s former boss Peter Wolf decided to stop touring in the late 90's, the electric guitarist honed his chops for a full year before recording his first solo release, Sometime Tuesday Morning (1999). the veteran guitarist's grasp of timbre and melody resulted in a shimmering, all-instrumental collection of pop tunes and heartfelt originals. This follow-up again showcases A.'s dexterity on a Gibson hollow-body equipped with a Bigsby vibrato bar.

On Get Inside, A. fashions similarly luxuriant tones, ringing chords, and bluesy licks. But this time, he also rocks with support from electric bass, drums, and occasional B-3, sax, or trumpet. Quivering tones and shifting tempos again color his music. And aside from Garret Savluk's muted trumpet solo on an upbeat version of Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary," A. provides the primary source of melody and improvisation.

Although capable of raising the roof (check out his screaming crescendo on "Krea Gata") the guitarist can caress a ballad or cry the blues. Few axemen since Danny Gatton would dare deliver a pop ballad ("Poor Side of Town"), a finger-snappin' shuffle ("Sing Singin'"), a melodic country picker ("Bundle of Joy"), a jazzed-up blues tune ("Krea Gata"). and a rockabilly rave-up ("Ignorance is Bliss") on the same album.

Johnny A. has eclectic musical vision and the skills to realize it. Whether you call his output contemporary jazz, instrumental blues, or instrumental rock, A.'s music is both accessible and sophisticated.

Ed Kopp
March '04

Johnny A.
Favored Nations

Not since Jeff Beck was in his prime time has a guitarist managed to tap into such a deep sense of melody, mood and virtuosity as Johnny A. has been locking into on his all-instrumental recordings.

A former axeman for Peter Wolf and Bobby Whitlock, among others, Johnny A. stepped out on his own with 1999's "Sometime Tuesday Morning," and he builds on the success of that set here. "Get Inside" is punctuated by the Boston-based guitarist's crisp playing, which shines brightly through tracks like the fluid and funky opener "Hip Bone," the mystical, slow-building beauty "Krea Gata," and a strikingly reworked, up-tempo run through Jimi Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary," which features a tasty trumpet solo courtesy of Garret Savluk.

But the album's most alluring cut is an exquisite version of Johnny Rivers' 1966 hit "Poor Side of Town." In much the same way he lifted Jimmy Webb's classic "Wichita Lineman" on his previous disc, Johnny A. colors "Poor Side of Town" with cascading guitar colors that prove captivating.

Kevin O'Hare
NEWHOUSE Wire Review, March 2004

Johnny A.
Favored Nations

From a speedy jazz reading of Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary" to a sweetly emotional take on Johnny Rivers' 1966 tune "Poor Side of Town," Johnny A.'s second instrumental album spans decades and styles. His richly textured originals embrace everything from space-age feedback ("Another Life") to SRV-via-Kenny Burrell sigh-and-slash (the bluesy "Krea Gata") and country pickin' ("Ignorance is Bliss"). Devotion to melodies, tight dynamics and succulent tones perfectly temper Johnny's balance of fire and ice.

Ted Drozdowski
Guitar World

Johnny A.
Favored Nations

Guitarist Johnny A. is proof that you don't have to be flashy to make a big statement. His 2000 instrumental debut Sometime Tuesday Morning , brought more attention to the Boston-club-scene veteran than he'd ever gotten as Peter
Wolf's longtime sideman. Inspired by a pantheon of '50s and '60s guitar deities -- Chet Atkins, Les Paul and Scotty Moore among them -- A. has both restraint and passion in his playing. "I let the guitar be the vocalist," he says by phone. "When I play, I deliver the melody like a singer. Only it's with my guitar." And what a guitar it is -- a hollow-bodied $5,000-plus electric that A. got to help design last year as his Gibson "Signature" Model.

His just-released sophomore effort, Get Inside, is more "in the street" in it's vibe than the first record, says A., but like it's predecessor, features his own gotta-have-soul compositions along with some well-chosen covers -- in this case, Johnny Rivers' "Poor Side Of Town" and an acid-jazz take on Jimi Hendix's "The Wind Cries Mary."

"I saw Hendrix when I was a kid and he blew me away," A. says "I'm not trying to compete with him with my version; I'm just trying to give back a little of what he gave me."

Nicole Pensiero
musicpicks 3.11.04

Johnny A.
Favored Nations

Local guitarist Johnny A.'s second release for Steve Vai's boutique label is
a wonderfully vivid set of 12 instrumentals, which demonstrate A.'s versatility and style. He moves from late night to jump blues to country-inflected grooves to lovely balladeering to straight-up rock without missing a beat. Each song informs and punctuates another and A.'s playing is crisp, precise, and extremely eloquent throughout. Unlike so many of his peers, the guitarist understands that the space between notes speaks as loudly as a blizzard run down the fretboard. He underplays when necessary and ratchets it up when there's a call for fireworks, but there's not an ostentatious lead anywhere in the 50 minutes of music. There are magical moments including the lyrical, lilting ''Poor Side of Town'' and the bluesy ''Krea Gata.'' That song arrives like a quiet sunrise, then ascends and explodes into colors before dissolving into silence. Johnny A. writes all of the songs except for two covers, including Jimi Hendrix's ''The Wind Cries Mary,'' which the guitarist richly reimagines. He's helped ably by a top-notch ensemble propelled by the steady Ron Stewart on drums and Ken Clark on B3 organ. A delightful listen.

Ken Capobianco
Boston Globe

Johnny A.
Favored Nations

Get Inside is guitarist Johnny A.'s second solo effort, appearing after nearly four years of touring and performing in support of the promising, effortlessly professional, 2001 effort Sometime Tuesday Morning. Inside is an album of tasteful instrumentals, tinged with the various styles A. has absorbed as a veteran sideman. Bold opener "Hip Bone" features Latin-flecked percussion, and A.'s impossibly clean tone; rich in atmosphere and detail, it could be an instrumental take on Los Lobos. It's just an appetizer -- the guitarist handled his own production, and throughout Get Inside he proves to be as smooth behind the mixing board as he is on the fret board. A.'s reverb-drenched licks on the bluesy Johnny Rivers' gem "Poor Side of Town" just completely melt out of the speakers, while his drier tones on the title track expertly control the grit meter. "Bundle of Joy" is exactly what you'd expect, and "Ignorance Is Bliss" backs up that bouncy sentiment with Little Feat-inspired playing and a driving rhythm. It's hard to pick the best track here, but there are a couple of strong candidates at its center. The seemingly mild-mannered "Krea Gata" goes absolutely ballistic in its midsection, A.'s guitar shrieking madly as his blues solo utterly loses its mind, and "Wind Cries Mary" becomes a jaunty trip through pauses filled with splotches of sunlight. Garret Savluk's jazzy trumpet solo is a great touch. The palpable energy in these tracks makes the album's dreary cover art an odd choice. Don't let Johnny A.'s sourpuss cover shot fool you — despite its well-placed moments of introspection or melancholy, Get Inside is a comforting place to be.

Johnny Loftus Feb 24, 2004

Johnny A.
Favored Nations

Next to the bachelor-pad jazz and R&B of his debut disc, this Mr. A. offering is comparatively more rockin'. Though the central attractions of his playing are his crisp tone and lyrical, song-serving melodies, this time out there's less minimalism and more of an inclination towards notey flights of fancy. These excursions -- the fiery Latin-jazz licks ("Hip Bone"), country-fried chord solos and bends ("Ignorance Is Bliss"), the Montgomery-style octaves ("Krea Gata") -- show off the extent of his capabilities as a lead player.

MOMENT OF TRUTH: "Another Life" (1:46-2:47)

Sounding almost like a countrified Hendrix, Johnny pulls off a fusion of airy chord extensions, arpegios, and single-note swirls.

Bob Keelaghan
Guitar One April 2004

Johnny A.
Favored Nations

Johnny A. is a story worth retelling. He may have been the solo guitar player you saw in Cambridge, MA at a midweek House of Blues show. He might have been the experimental guitar you heard open for James "Blood" Ulmer somewhere. He might have sold you his CD "Sometime Tuesday Morning" out of his car's trunk as he toured the country to support the record. Once the national distribution deal was struck, Johnny submitted to that grinding schedule. But that was four years ago.

Since then, Johnny turned inward and discovered the joy of musical border
bending. Throughout his dozen instrumentals, Johnny tells stories of joy and pain through his guitar. There's a lush warmth to Johnny Rivers' "Poor Side Of Town." Johnny's reverberating tone breathes new life into this gem from the past. His funky up tempo take on the other non-original, Jimi's "The Wind Cries Mary," bookends the song with Garrett Savluk's trumpet solo mid-song.

Johnny A.'s originals cover all the bases. There's the 0 to 60 rockabilly tonk of "Ignorance Is Blis," which comes straight from Sun Studios and the Latin jazz rhythms of the CD's first song, "Hip Bone." By the middle of the recording, Johnny's guitar erases the straight lines on the jazz and blues charts with "Sing Singin'" and "Get Inside."

Through the heavy Wes Montgomery reverb of "Krea Gata," Johnny's guitar takes the internal and gives them a depth and emotion no fan can avoid. Like an out of control flash flood, his electronic looping and experimentation on "Stimulation" flows into a fluent impressionistic rainbow. The album closes with "Another Life," Johnny's astral guitar musings.

This is an essential recording for any serious guitarist who needs directions off the mainstream musical road.

Art Tipaldi
March '04

Johnny A.
Favored Nations

Music: Some guitar players are like lumberjacks. They go straight at the music with axes swinging and chainsaws roaring and keep chopping until the tunes come down. Former Peter Wolf guitar slinger Johnny A. is more of a watch repairman. When he covers a tune, like Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary," he takes it completely apart, cleans every pin and gear, and puts it back together so it's like a whole new timepiece. His own blues tunes use surprising bridges, key changes, and time signatures.

Drumming: Ron Stewart sits on top of the 2 and 4 like a Nashville cat on songs like "Ignorance Is Bliss," but he also lays behind with funky backbeats on tunes such as "Hip Bone." The album's clean straight-ahead recording also makes the tubs sound like drums.

The Verdict: Johnny A. is destined for a wider audience.

VOL.13, #1
February/March '04

Johnny A.
Favored Nations

Subtle and incredibly groove-laden, Johnny A. is- to be as cliché as possible- a poet when it comes to his blues/jazz guitar mastery.

Likened best to some of Stevie Ray Vaughan's best jazz-inspired classical pieces, Johnny A. blends big band, country, rockabilly and swing into this fresh, crisp style that seems like it should only be appreciated by people frequenting snooty downtown clubs.

But somehow his slick style carries over into a street sensibility that has flair at just the right moments. From the swank drive of "I Had To Laugh"
through to the melancholy yet gritty undertone of "Sing Singin'," this is a must-have for anyone with even the slightest inclination towards mature music with a touch of attitude ...with music this intelligent and well-produced, let's put it this way: now your swingers party has the right music to greet the guests. You'll seem stylish and naughty at the same time.

Keith Carman
March 5, 2004



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