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Eric Johnson

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. But the full hand of his talents marks him as well as a gifted songwriter, dynamic live performer, singer, pianist, song interpreter, and creator of a rich and diverse musical legacy.

His myriad and distinctive musical gifts are vividly evident on Johnson's aptly titled new album, Up Close, released on his own Vortexan Music label via EMI Distribution. The new 15-track disc finds the noted master craftsman cutting loose, roaming through variations on the rock, blues, pop, country and jazz all found at the core of his sound, pushing the dynamic range of his artistry, and mixing it up with such friends and peers as guitarists Jimmie Vaughan and Sonny Landreth and guest singers Steve Miller, Jonny Lang and Malford Milligan.

"I decided to let go a bit and allow things to happen and just go with the flow," explains Johnson of his approach to the album. "I think 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 wanted 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 underaged 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. And 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.

His many 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 alongside numerous other awards. He also enjoys the admiration of many of his fellow players and has performed and/or recorded with such notables as Chet Atkins, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and others, and follows the release of Up Close with an acoustic Guitar Masters tour sharing the stage with six-string masters Pepping D'Agostino and Andy McKee. 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."

Doors Open: 7:00 PM | Show Starts: 8:00 PM




Charleston Music Hall
37 John St, Charleston, SC 29403



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