Blueprint for the Blues

Orville Johnson

Originally released in 1998

Though I've been making recordings since the mid 1970s thru the vinyl and cassette tape eras, this was the first Compact Disc I released under my own name in 1998. It's a collection of tunes reflecting my love for the blues and some of the artists that influenced me. This is some of what I wrote in the original liner notes...

"The roots are important. Sister Ethel Mae was at the piano in the Assembly of God Pentecostal church. Brother Eugene directed our singing, calling songs from the dog-eared green hymnal. As a child, I was confused by the radical behavior of some of the adults with their moaning and wailing, sometimes speaking in tongues. It was hard to understand the deviation from their usual adult demeanor...but I did dig the singing.

When I was little we attended church fairly regularly. My Dad didn't go and my Mom was an occasional backslider, but my aunt lived across the field from our small farm outside Edwardsville IL and felt it her duty to get us kids to church even if our parents didn't make it. I went until I was old enough to make excuses and hide out. The gift I retained from my churchgoing days was my love of singing.

I heard a lot of music thanks to my older sister's record collection. She was into popular music and R&B sounds of the late 1950s and early 60s. She was a teenager and had a room of her own into which all others were forbidden entry. I would sneak in when she was out and listen to records and then carefully put everything back as I found it. She never caught me. When I was about 14 a schoolmate of mine, Bob Shindel, turned me on to the recently reissued records of Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Johnson, and others. This opened up a world of music I never knew existed, and when I started playing guitar at age seventeen it was some of the first material I tried to learn to play."


I still love and play these songs today. I hope you enjoy this collection.

Special Thanks : Parry Marston • Richard Russell • David Lange • Marianne Lockhart • John Miller • Johnnie Ward • Applegate • Marita Holdaway • Steven Sherrif • Benham Gallery • Rob Moitoza • Brad Inserra • Scott Law • all the musicians for their time and talent

The writer, musician, and engineering credits are all listed on the individual tracks. Click on each track to find them.
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Slide & Joy

Orville Johnson

Originally released in 1999

This is my first all instrumental dobro album, originally released in 1999. It's taken me 20 years to do another one! (Orville Johnson and his Ampliphonic Guitar, also available here at BandCamp). It let the world at large know I was part of the dobro fraternity. I think it came out pretty well. Here are the original liner notes, written by my friend and prodigious composer and guitarist John Miller.

" I'm so glad to be able to herald the release of "Slide & Joy," a new CD devoted to the strikingly original dobro playing of Orville Johnson. "Slide & Joy" is a big statement from a big man with a big gift. As I listen to it, I can't help but be amazed by how wide a swath Orville cuts with his dobro, ranging stylistically from a second line New Orleans rave-up to Latin jazz, ballads, Memphis R&B, and bluegrass. The power and conviction with which Orville expresses himself keep all this diversity from degenerating into a tedious eclecticism. Rather, I am struck by how sympathetically these various styles co-exist in Orville's hands and ears, heart and head. So it is then, that the various styles of music Orville plays are synthesized by his sensibility into something much bigger and more all encompassing: MUSIC.

I know from talking with him that Orville holds the sound of the human voice as a star, guiding his musical expression. To get some sense of how admirably he attains his ideal, listen to his rendition of Charlie Haden's beautiful "First Song" or "Mambolaya," where the dobro sounds as though it is speaking in tongues.

One other aspect of Orville's playing that impresses me is how completely he trusts his ears, and acts on that trust. Orville has studied virtually everything that has been done on the dobro, but rather than aping the mannerisms of other dobro players, past and present, he has chosen to go his own way, and speak in his own voice. I am so glad Orville made this choice and when you hear the music on "Slide & Joy," you will be glad, too.

All best, John M. Miller, Spring 1999"

This album is dedicated to my friend Mike Earley.

Special Thanks: Parry Marston • Richard Russell • John Miller • Brad Inserra • John O • Stuart Brune • David Lange • Michael Gray • Charlie Haden • Nick Hornbuckle • Bill Monroe • John Hartford •
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Freehand

Orville Johnson

Originally released in 2003

I titled this album Freehand because it developed over time with no overarching plan. I would go into the studio when I had something I believed in and gathered the cuts in an improvisational way. As I said in the original liner notes, when I was in art school we'd often start a drawing class by fixing our eyes on a subject and letting our pencils glide across the paper, delineating the picture that was framed in our mind's eye. Never looking at the paper. Freehand. Loose. Fluid. Feeling the connection, the contour, the groove. That's the feeling I hoped to capture.

I was particularly honored on this album to play with two of my dobro heroes, mentors, and friends, Mike Auldridge and Stacy Phillips. I learned to play the dobro by dropping the needle 10 thousand times on Mike's groundbreaking "Dobro" album and internalizing every note. Stacy's playing on Tony Trishcka's album "Bluegrass Light" showed me a spirit of adventure, playfulness, and joy that illustrated how the dobro could fit in any kind of music. I've tried to incorporate the lessons I learned from them in my own music.

This album is dedicated to two other great artists, mentors, and friends- John Jackson & John Hartford

Special Thanks: Parry Marston • Richard Russell • John Miller • Brad Inserra • Becky Knowles • Josh & Evelyn Graves • John O • Trish Byerly • Emily, Miles, & Sarah Laven • Bruce Lamb • Stuart Brune • Ron Phillips • Michael Dunn • Shirley Lowe •
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Orville Johnson and his Ampliphonic Guitar-Duets

Orville Johnson

Originally released in 2019

What a blessing it is to have friends like the group of masterful musicians who have honored me with their presence on this recording. I give an extra hosanna to John Knowles who started me off on this duet idea when we cut Somewhere from West Side Story for my Freehand album in 2001. We reconvened shortly thereafter to wax three more duets, two of which appear here. After gathering a few more tracks with just the dobro paired with guitar I got the urge to cast the dobro with different instruments in such a stark setting and hear them sing together.

I can’t thank everyone enough for taking time from their busy touring, teaching, and recording schedules to hang with me and make these songs. It was fun to come up with tunes that I thought might suit the artists and their instruments and I hope you enjoy the results. I don’t have space here to give you each artist’s resume, but suffice it to say they are all fantastic players and, with just a little bit of Googling their names, you’ll find websites that will lead you to discover all sorts of wonderful music they have created.

Re: the bonus track # 12…I played on some tunes with Dan Tyack and Darick Campbell for a project of Dan’s. I later asked him how things were going with that project and he offered to let me use my favorite cut from that session here. I love the Elwa Ramble and chose it for this recording. There are four of us playing so, to stick with the theme, let’s just say it’s two duets at once!
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Your Voice Is A Muscle

Orville Johnson

Originally released in 2016

This is a collection including several never-before released tunes as well as selections from earlier out-of-print CDs. All written or co-written by Orville Johnson except for A Lua Do Amazonia, written by his friend Ray Piper.
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Southern Filibuster- A Tribute to Tut Taylor

Southern Filibuster- A Tribute to Tut Taylor

Tut Taylor has a unique playing style and a gift for writing catchy, playable tunes for the dobro. He's in his late 80s now and dobro master Jerry Douglas decided it was time to pay tribute to Tut's contributions to the dobro repertoire. I am proud to be among the pickers he invited to play on this disc and, if you like dobro music, you'll be hard pressed to find a cooler album than this. Jerry said, "Everybody on this record is just a great player and they’re the cream of the crop when it comes to playing the Dobro guitar. The people on this Tut Taylor tribute record are the best that there are on the planet."

1. Southern Filibuster  JERRY DOUGLAS  2. Swampwater  BILLY CARDINE   3. Dobro Country MICHAEL WITCHER  4. Ghost Picker  ORVILLE JOHNSON 5. Black Ridge Ramble  CURTIS BURCH  6. Oasis  ROB ICKES  7. Little Green Pill CINDY CASHDOLLAR  8. This Ain't Grass MIKE AULDRIDGE  9. Me and My Dobro FERRELL STOWE  10. Oozin' The Blues RANDY KOHRS 11.Acoustic Toothpick PHIL LEADBETTER  12. Resophonic Guitar ANDY HALL  13. Reso Fandango MEGAN LOVELL  14 . Stevens Steel IVAN ROSENBERG

This CD is out of print, but if you'd like to order directly from me, see the How to Order page.

Johnson, Miller & Dermody - We Heard the Voice of a Porkchop

We Heard the Voice of a Porkchop   

The latest, greatest in country blues stylings by three of the best, Orville Johnson, John Miller, and Grant Dermody. Covering folks like Blind Willie Johnson and Mance Lipscomb, ferreting out the finest traditional blues and making up a couple of their own, the boys bring it with them when they come. Music critics and lovers of fine southern cuisine would call this album "savory".

1. Rain Don't Fall  2. Take Me Back  3. I'm Behind the Eight Ball Now 4. I Heard the Voice of a Porkchop  5. Motherless Child  6. Blackbird Blues  7. Down to the Hills  8. I'd Do It All Again  9. I'm Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table  10. Your Place Is Here with Me  11. I Shall Not Be Moved              

 

 

You can purchase Pork Chop online from CD Baby, download it from iTunes or see the How to Order page for mail order instructions.

 

Laura Love & Orville Johnson - The Sweeter the Juice

The Sweeter The Juice

Folk-funk bassist Laura Love and master country blues guitarist / dobro man Orville Johnson get together and peel the paint off the walls with their fine picking and electrifying vocals. Folk, bluegrass, gospel, spirituals, originals, stirring anthems - it's all here. Music critics would say " soul oozes from every pore of this CD and the folky-funky-hunky tunky blues will set your hair on fire!"

1. Cotton Eyed Joe / Ruby (Are You Mad At Your Man), 2. King Jesus / I'm Workin' on a Building, 3. Load Up / Eyes on the Prize, 4. Nobody's Fault But Mine, 5. Swing Low Sweet Chariot / Swing Down Chariot, 6. Passin', 7. Livin' In a Dream, 8. We Shall Not Be Moved / Stayed On Freedom, 9. When He Calls Me, 10. Yes We Can

Visit CD Baby or iTunes to order or check out the How to Order page for instructions on ordering directly from Orville Johnson

Johnson, Miller & Dermody - Deceiving Blues

Deceiving Blues

This CD features legendary fingerstyle blues guitarist John Miller, tonemeister Grant Dermody on harmonica, and yours truly on mandolin, dobro, and rubboard. We all sing on this program of acoustic country blues recorded live in the studio in real time.

No headphones, no "studio magic", just pure heartfelt blues played by guys who love it and know it. We're all very proud of the disc. Music critics would call this one "classic country blues by contemporary masters of the artform".
1. Mother Earth, 2. Springtime Blues, 3. Stewball, 4. Some of These Days,5. Witching Hour Blues, 6. Deceiving Blues, 7. Soul of a Man, 8. Bull Doze Blues, 9. Polly Put the Kettle On, 10. Trouble in Mind, 11. Depot Blues, 12. I Will Do My Last Singing

Visit CD Baby to order Deceiving Blues online,
or see the How to Order page for mail order instructions.

The Kings of Mongrel Folk™

The Kings of MongrelFolk

The first album by Mark Graham and I as the mighty Kings of MongrelFolk. People were startled by the audacity of such humor, puffery, and tomfoolery! I don't believe they've gotten over it yet! Music critics would call this album "pointedly fruity yet quaffable".

1. Last Words, 2. Everybody Ought to Change, 3. Blueprint for the Blues, 4. Their Brains Were Small, 5. Hoof n' Mouth, 6. Billy Gray, 7. Stormy Weather, 8. Oedipus Rex, 9. Tap Dancin' on the Moon, 10. When Love Has Gone Away, 11. Neighbor of the Beast, 12. Highlander's Farewell/Old Shoemaker/Dunbar, 13. Monkey with a Typewriter, 14. Freedom for the Stallion

You can purchase The Kings of Mongrel FolkTM online from CD Baby, download it from iTunes, or see the How to Order page for mail order instructions.

The Kings of Mongrel Folk™ - Still Goin' Strong

Still Goin' Strong

Mark Graham and I gather up some pals and cook up another pot of MongrelFolkTM for you. Mostly original music with disturbingly colorful humor and twisted insight into the human and not-so-human condition. Music critics would call this album "puzzling".

1. Still Goin' Strong, 2. Shadrach, 3. Corn Kingdom Come, 4. The Sleeper, 5. That's No Way to Get Along, 6. Dead of Night, 7. After the Fall, 8. Come Back Baby, 9. Always Something, 10. Strange, 11. High and Lonesome, 12. Tennessee Robot

You can purchase Still Goin' Strong online from CD Baby, download it from iTunes, or see the How to Order page for mail order instructions.

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