I rarely go to concerts, and I even more rarely blog about them. My qualifications to review music of any kind: none whatsoever.
But when the local paper mentioned that guitarist Johnny A. was coming to the Stone Church in Newmarket (NH), I jumped over to their website to pick up some tickets. And I had such a good time, I wanted to share my enthusiasm.
I'd previously seen Johnny A. at the UNH Whittemore Center hockey arena, opening for B. B. King. This (to put it mildly) was not the most intimate of venues, although he did a fine job. (So did B. B.) But the Stone Church was much better; it's a dinky place, and you can't get too far away.
[Which reminds me: if B. B. King married Johnny A., would he become B. B. A.? Ha! I crack me up.]
Anyway: Johnny did a two hour set, approximately. His band consists of himself, a bassist, and a drummer (didn't catch their names, sorry). Usually I scoff at paranormal claims, but the band was so tightly coordinated, I suspect some sort of psychic bonding is going on.
His repertoire is a mix of oldie covers (e.g., Jimmy Webb, Chuck Berry, Johnny Rivers, Jimi Hendrix) and his own compositions. His guitar style is—as near as I can tell, and remember you have to take this with a huge grain of salt, coming from me—a wonderful mishmosh of rock, jazz, blues, country, surf, and classical. (If there are any guitar genres I forgot, you can probably toss them in there too.) This all works for me. And there's no doubt that Johnny is producing pretty much exactly the sound he wants; his mastery of the instrument is complete. It's simply astounding to watch.
I had had the impression that his stage presence would be cool and relatively aloof, as befits a musical genius. Instead he comes off as extremely affable and maybe a little goofy—but in a good way. In his between-numbers patter, he revealed that he had recently moved up here to New Hampshire.
So: if you like guitar music, check out Johnny A, if you haven't already done so. Buy his CDs, and if you get a chance, go see him play.
[Image, by the way, shamelessly ripped off from Mr. A's website, shows him playing last year with Jimmy Webb down in Boston.]