Johnny A Driven
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On Stage

When a friend turned me on to this CD, she told me it was right up my alley. I wish she would have warned me that it was going to get stuck in my CD player, rendering me unable to listen to anything else for weeks. Johnny A. is a Boston guitarist who has spent time playing with keyboardist Bobby Whitlock (Derek & the Dominos), percussionist Mingo Lewis (Santana), and-most recently-ex-J. Geils front man Peter Wolf. He now leads his own band. "sometime tuesday morning" is A.'s debut solo CD, and it screams taste and class.

It is an all-instrumental project, with A.'s guitar serving as the voice. Although not all songs huddle beneath the blues umbrella, the entire album has a blues sensibility to it, due in no small part to the string bends found throughout. Melodic and warm, it contains a handful of covers and eight originals. Imagine Willie Cobbs' blues classic "You Don't Love Me" with a funky, re-vamped lead lick, a little wah-wah, and chords and octaves that recall Wes Montgomery. Or a beautiful, melancholy version of Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman", laced with enough melodic nuances and afterthoughts to give you some serious goose bumps. A. even had the cultivated musical vision to seek out a Beatles song you are unlikely to hear another cover of: the beautiful b-side "Yes It Is."

It's the originals that really hit you between the ears, though. "Oh Yeah" is a funky, finger-snapping pop-rock tune that has been embraced by a number of East Coast radio stations. On "Up in the Attic", A. lays down some rapid country picking much like that of a Jimmy Bryant or Joe Maphis. A. plays a bajo sexto (or "baritone" guitar) to add color to four of the tracks. He plays a lap steel on parts of the bouncy "Tex Critter"; on other sections of the song he seems to pay tribute to Chet Atkins. A Jeff Beck influence can be heard on the disc too.

Despite all the influences, A. has a tone and style that is distinctly his (by the way, he is a Gibson man). With a little more exposure and a few more gems like "sometime tuesday morning", it's a safe bet that upon hearing just a few seconds of his playing, most any guitar fan will be quick to say, "That's Johnny A."

-Ann Wickstrom-

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