Monday, November 14, 2016

CD Review: MIKE JOHNSON - Let Me Die In A Honky Tonk

MIKE JOHNSON
Let Me Die In A Honky Tonk
Let Me Die In A Honky Tonk - Could You Spare Me A Quarter - I Will Hitch A Ride With Joe - Jack, Johnny, Jim, Jose - Bertha - Break One-Nine - I Don't Give A Damn About A Damn Thing - Coyote Yodel - Nuthin' Honey - There's Something In Between Us - How Come They all Know? - I Don't Wanna See You No More - Happy Yodeling Man - Roughshod Records Sidekicks
 
This second CD from Roughshod Records is by the owner himself, Mike Johnson.  Mike is well known today, and has been for a long long time, as country music's number one black yodeler.  This is not something to be taken lightly, not only are there only a handful of black yodelers, if that many, there is only one that can claim the title "Country Music's Number One Black Yodeler."  That is Mike Johnson.  He's never given up on his gift of music.  He's had some slow periods, but he has never stopped making great music.  He's had some distressing times in the music world, but he's never been side-tracked.  He just keeps right on writing, and he just keeps right on singing, and he just keeps right on recording his great songs.  His new side-kick is a 21-year old white boy named James Adelsberger, also a Virginia music maker that knows exactly what Mike's music is all about.  James is the instrumentalist that brings Mike's music to a complete flowering, that magic ingredient that includes a complete understanding of what Mike is writing, what he's saying, what he's singing, and why.  What a very nice complimentary combination.  Super easy to listen to and super easy to like.  There's four super yodeling songs on this release, including "Coyote Yodel" which is in a class all by itself, including some terrific mandolin playing by James.  Also it should be noted that Mike wrote all 14 songs on this release.  Like I said, his is a very prolific writer, and he puts in a few words what many of us need books to say.  Michael Romans is the only other musician on this production, performing some incredible fiddle work, especially nice on "Nothin' Honey."  Mike Johnson is a very young 70 years old, and he's still doing what he loves doing best, creating and producing great 'real' country music.  His story songs are some of the best I've ever heard.  There's another aspect of Mike Johnson that I find very appealing.  His melody lines are all his own.  Sometimes songwriters have to struggle to find an original melody line that will fit what they are writing.  Mike doesn't seem to have this problem.  His melody lines are right down that 'real' country music road, but they are all his own.  This must also make it interesting to James who is providing the music backing.  Each and every song presents a new and interesting challenge.  Mike Johnson won't die in a Honky Tonk, but before he does exit planet earth, he's still got a lot of things to do with music.  I would hope he and James keep turning out anything and everything they can possibly do together, and just keep it coming.  Every song on this CD is a keeper.  I would guess Mike had a hard time with placement.  The usual method is to put the strongest track in space number one.  BUT, so many of Mike's songs are so strong that must have been a problem.  I like them all, including "Roughshod Records SideKicks" where both artists individually take the lead on each of their releases.  Super good.
RECORD REVIEW BY BOB EVERHART, President National Traditional Country Music Association since 1976 for Country Music News International
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