Barbecue pit master, vinyl records enthusiast, festival founder, and all around important individual to help keeping a distinct dialect of American roots music alive, Chris Johnson, has died. The quintessential fan turned organizer, through his various ventures, Chris Johnson became…
It was the summer of 2012, and I was stationed behind a double axle flatbed trailer dubbing as a festival stage in the capacity of a volunteer stage manager at the Muddy Roots Festival in Cookeville, TN. Dealing with the remnants of a tropical storm that had made its way into the middle Tennessee region, it had been a wet afternoon and early evening.
Procuring the foundation for their music from the pre-war and Delta blues, and jug and string bands of the deep South, their amorphous sound is like a seance for the creaky bones of past generations to animate back to life from the inalienable pull of an infectious groove. They illustrate their prowess and commitment to the music in their new album on New West Records called “Any Way, Shape, or Form”.
Before they were melting the faces of appreciative crowds, before they were being featured on Breaking Bad and being touted beside bands like The Black Keys as one of best blues power duos of our generation, and before they were signed to powerhouse label Alive Records, Ft. Wayne, Indiana’s smash blues maestros Left Lane Cruiser put out a raw, unfettered debut album called Slingshot.
In the 12 years since Hillstomp’s inception, John Johnson, and guitar player Henry Christian have become one of the Pacific Northwest’s most well-known underground roots duos, garnering a loyal following and making fast fans from their avant-garde approach to blues that combines elements of punk, trance, and most notably, a beat that is delivered by a drum set centered around a bucket instead of a snare drum.