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Richard Johnston: Press

RECORDS 2 DIE 4 - annual edition 2006

"It's panoply of material testifies to the abiding nature of northern Mississippi's music while propelling forward the hypnotic hill-country style."

"..Johnston sings in a voice tinged with wood smoke and plays as if he's dwelled in that land for all of his two score years."

As Foot Hill Stomp was released in Feb 2002 this acknowledgment was very much appreciated. Thanks, David.
David Lander - Stereophile Magazine (Feb 21, 2006)

This white singer-guitar player speads a more traditional joy: rural blues spun from Mississippi cotton and juke-joint sawdust. He covers Junior Kimbrough, and blues empress Jessie Mae Hemphill shakes her tambourine. But the mule-team muscle in Johnston's picking and the dirt-road fiber in his voice are the real appeal.
David Fricke - Rolling Stone Magazine (Nov 28, 2002)

Richard Johnston is a whirl-wind, a cyclone, a blast of hot earth in a desert sandstorm. Johnston is nothing less than a concert unto himself.

"Johnston.....continues to pick up international awards and accolades in the media, carving a notch in his diddley-bow every time another writer calls him "the most promising young blues musician of our time."
Tara Nurin - American Magazine

"...the North Mississippi hill country blues of Mississippi Fred McDowell, R.L. Burnside, Kimbrough and T-Model Ford have found an audience with blues and grunge fans as played by their descendants, as well as the North Mississippi All-Stars, Kenny Brown, Richard Johnston and other younger artists.."


"..IBC winners, Delta Moon, kicked off the second act with their lively, country rock blues. Then Richard Johnston brought the house down with his foot-stomping, primitive hillbilly rock. This one man act created a joyous celebration while playing electric guitar, snare and bass drums. It resulted in the crowd getting on their feet again. Dressed in coveralls, this local favourite looked like a good ole boy and had the power of the North Mississippi Allstars tucked into his single man act. For his second number, Johnston was joined by Sharde Thomas, R.L. Boyce and Bill Turner. Together they blended the fife and drum sound of Otha with Junior Kimbrough's cotton patch sound. If Johnston and [Robert] Randolph do not hold the future of blues in their hands then I don't know what will save the genre..."

A much-hyped Memphis prodigy delivers on the promise of his Mississippi Hill Country blues roots.

There's a thing about hotly anticipated albums -- which of course every debut is, at least in someone's mind. Widely considered Junior Kimbrough's heir apparent -- he ran the late blues legend's juke joint in the Mississippi backcountry until it burned to the ground in 1999 --and having generated considerable buzz via his performances at the Blues Foundation-sponsored International Blues Challenge and at the Handy Awards themselves, Richard Johnston had a lot of hype to live up to.
Rest assured: Foot Hill Stomp kicks butt. Of course, Johnston got a lot of help from other veterans of Kimbrough's style of blues, a unique regional sound that owes little to the Delta and it's descendants: Jessie Mae Hemphill, Cedric Burnside and Mark Simpson are on an impressive guest list. (This was Hemphill's first studio date since her recent stroke.) But all the backup in the world wouldn't make Foot Hill Stomp if Johnston didn't possess talent himself, and he does, honed by years of club dates in, of all places, Nagoya, Japan. By the time he made it back to the states, he already fit right in on Beale Street.
The quality of musicianship and expression shown on Foot Hill Stomp indicates that good things are ahead for Johnston and for the trad-blues fans he's sure to attract. True, Foot Hill Stomp doesn't contain any of his own material -- except for "Chicken and Gravy," which he co-wrote with Hemphill -- but he picked great songs to record: Several of Kimbrough's are here, including "I Feel Good Little Girl" and "Work Me Baby", and R.L. Burnside's "Come On In" is featured as well. Johnston makes his own mark by adding a distinct country flavor to his blues, occasionally reaching so far as a Piedmont stomp. As it happens, Foot Hill Stomp is that rare exception: a hotly anticipated debut that lives up to its hype.
Genevieve Williams - Blues Review
Albany -- More than nine hours after the Maynard Brothers lamented bein' done wrong by a woman, there was Jimmy Vaughan, equally aggrieved about a gal -- a kinky, two-timin' gal, no less -- and bouncing his twangy Texas guitar sound off the marble of the Empire State Plaza.

Welcome to the Fleet Bluesfest.

The annual event, held from noon to about 10 p.m. Saturday, drew thousands of listeners throughout the day to hear a dozen acts that performed on three stages around the plaza. People strolled: It took perhaps four minutes at a medium pace to get from the main stage, in front of the state museum, to the North Stage, between The Egg and the State Capitol. People tried to hide from the skin-crisping sun; the best spots were beneath the blockheaded trees along the plaza. A kid on inline skates nearly went into a reflecting pool; he'd been startled by a fellow who was wearing a five-foot-long python around his neck and waggling his butt to tunes by local favorite Ernie Williams.
But most people listened to the blues, in all the messy, rude, unhappy, introspective, defiant, soul-touching and danceable forms the style has to offer.

Vaughan -- who was made headliner after Bo Diddley canceled because of illness -- is a guitarist of undeniable ability. And there's no disputing the sheer fun that his headlining act delivered.

But this year, more than in the past, the best blues was found on the second (North) and third (Acoustic) stages. None of the other Main Stage performers -- Shirley Johnson, A.C. Reed & the Sparkplugs, Kenny Neal -- came anywhere close to the Main Stage dynamos of past years such as Shemekia Copeland, Skeeter Brandon and Koko Taylor.

Instead, the wowing music came from folks including Richard Johnston, Les Sampou, Christine Santelli and Guy Davis. The young hill-country bluesman Johnston, more impressive than last year, screamed through on a sloppy old jalopy of sound. He played the drums, a high-hat and maracas -- all with his feet -- and used as his "guitar" of choice a thing he calls the "diddley bow": basically, four strings on a couple of broom handles stuck into a cigar box.
Steve Barnes - Albany Times


..."The mystery of the music business should die," says Johnston, who emerged from a Marxist educational background to become what he calls "a handicap capitalist." "Right now, who makes it and who doesn't is a big shell game and we (musicians and fans) are the suckers."...