Texas-born guitarist Eric Johnson let his influences shine while displaying his impeccable musicianship, fluid style and unmistakeable, trademark guitar tone.
Review and photos by Michael Bradley
One of the hardest things for any budding guitarist to accomplish – besides actually learning how to play the thing – is to develop a signature, instantly recognizable guitar “tone.” Getting good tone is a combination of talent, technique, electronics, practice and just about everything else that comes with mastering the instrument. Texas-born guitarist Eric Johnson is a master of both tone and the instrument, and he put it all on display at his October 4 appearance at the Variety Playhouse in Little Five Points.
The evening started with a short solo set of acoustic numbers that showcased Eric’s finger-style technique. The country-flavored “Tribute to Jerry Reed,” “Once Upon a Time In Texas,” and a cover of Paul Simon’s lovely “April, Come She Will” got the crowd warmed up and ready for more.
Strapping on his trusty Stratocaster, Eric and band kicked in to full swing with “Fat Daddy,” a song from his 2010 CD Up Close. The jazzy “Manhattan” followed and featured a liberal mix of finger-picking, slide and fluid lazer-sharp straight-picking playing styles. The set ended with a thunderous blast of the blues. Bottom-heavy “Last House on the Block” turned into an extended all-out jam, complete with bassist Chris Maresh’s solo spot.
Eric Johnson has never been one to hide his influences. He ventured back towards jazz with a cover of John Coltrane’s “Mr P.C.” while also giving drummer Wayne Salzmann II a chance to shine with a solo of his own. “Desert Rose” and “Nothing Can Keep Me from You” highlighted Eric’s Grammy-winning 1990 album Ah Via Musicom before ending the set with his signature rock-radio staple “Cliffs of Dover” from the same album.
No Eric Johnson show would be complete without a nod to one of Eric’s main influences, Jimi Hendrix. “Power of Soul” got the full house up and clapping before bringing the evening to an end with “The Wind Cries Mary.”
Country, blues, jazz, rock, guitar tone, technique, songwriting… you name it, Eric Johnson has it.