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"Away Down The Road", a Review of Craig Johnson's postumous CD

Posted by bsed on Thursday, April 29, 2010

Back in 1980 I embarked on an adventure that had me living out in the desert north of Phx, AZ. I was watching a Bald eagle nest for the U.S.F.S. It got mighty lonely out there, but I had lots of tapes of recorded music and my fiddle. On one of those tapes was a folk music program from Wisconsin Pub. Radio. The host was fond of a singer I quickly came to love by the name of Art Thieme (whom I could discuss at considerable length), and one of the songs he sang was Keweenaw Light, about a lighthouse on the shore of the U.P. of Michigan. I had forgotten that it was a song by one Craig Johnson. Thank God it wouldn't be the last I'd hear from him! I've since seen him on a couple occassions when the Double Decker String Band appeared at Bluff Country. What I learned about Craig is he's not a performer who's going to bowl you over with flashiness. His singing voice may be an acquired taste for some (I've acquired a considerable liking for it). But what I found is that, like in the tradition of Posey Rorrer, he's a damn good multi-instrumentalist, and a good song writer to boot! And he has studied the music that gave passion to his life. Read the Old Time Herald (Feb. 2010) for those details. And then get this CD and never take it out of your player. The variety is fantastic. As I write these words I'm listening to the title song. You might have heard Stan Rogers sing it years ago. But listen to Craig's rendition to this original song to get the soul of what it might've been like to be a mill worker. The disc opens with him singing Muskrat accompanying himself on banjo. He plays a different Sail Away Ladies than I've heard before on the fiddle. The notes in the jewelcase list each selection in the program, where he got it from and he lists banjo and guitar tunings and keys as well as capo positions. Craig is unaccompanied on this CD. I got no idea what the state of his health was when he recorded (he died of esophogeal cancer in December 2009). I recommend this CD to ANYONE interested in OT music . To order go to www.5-string.com or write to: 5-String Productions, Inc., West Chester, PA (no zip provided).

1 comment on “"Away Down The Road", a Review of Craig Johnson's postumous CD”

FiddlerFaddler Says:
Saturday, May 1, 2010 @7:21:29 PM

Thanks for the review. Craig's CD will be a nice addition to my collection.

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