After twenty years of one great disc after another, the kid from Kansas is back. Bearing maybe the best record he’s ever made, Neon Repairman. And its songs will keep you up nights, just like those bright lights of the title track.
Like most of the general public, you probably first heard Freedy when his chiming, catchy single, Bad Reputation, full of his trademark tunefulness and street-level lyrics hit the airwaves. The song was the opening salvo of Johnston’s masterpiece, This Perfect World, superbly-produced by the legendary Butch Vig, of Nirvana fame. Vig kept the record radio-friendly, but brought enough clarity so that Freedy’s characters, the lost, criminal and crazy, all came through loud and clear. These desperate people caught not just the average listener, but filmmakers The Farrelly Brothers. Soon, several of Johnston’s tunes showed up in their comedy Kingpin. Topping that achievement, in 1995, Rolling Stone Magazine named Johnston Songwriter Of The Year. Enough to bring color to any man’s face. But when you saw that number two was Kurt Cobain, well, Johnston must’ve really blushed. Rolling Stone made the right decision, too. It won’t be long until This Perfect World, starts showing up on everyone’s All-Time Best Album lists.
The driving, the solitude, the blue-collar work ethic evinced in the title of his new album suits Johnston to a T. He does dozens of dates every year across our big country. New albums are great and Freedy’s new one is arguably his best. But when he saunters through your city, see him live. Johnston is wonderful in concert. His guitar playing is strong, his singing as lean, lonesome and American as Henry Fonda in The Grapes of Wrath. Freedy will be out soon, playing songs from Neon Repairman and other favorites. He’ll have CDs and T shirts to buy after the show. As for fixing your neon sign? You’ll have to take that up with him personally. But if he can’t, you’ll still be glad you caught this superb singer-songwriter. He’s as bright and striking as the neon signs that show up in the night. Just when we need a place to go for company, coffee, a movie. Or simply someplace warm. A joint that will take us in. When we need it the most.
Jeffrey Gaines has gone against the grain since releasing his first folk-oriented album during the grunge rage of the early 1990s. Heralded for his soul-searching lyrics and powerful live performances, Gaines built a loyal following through constant touring and a series of intensely personal albums based on his singular voice and distinctive song narratives. Recently, Gaines was described by MOJO as “the man who sounds like Otis Redding, Elvis Costello and David Bowie, wrapped up in one amazing package‘ and ROLLING STONE Magazine called Gaines “the voice of a new generation.” With only his voice and acoustic guitar for accompaniment, Gaines will spend the rest of 2015 touring, as he finishes writing and preparing for his eighth CD release.
8/12/2015 Wed Seattle, WA Tractor Tavern
8/14/2015 Fri San Francisco, CA Brick & Mortar
8/15/2015 Sat Santa Barbara, CA Lobero Theatre
8/16/2015 Sun Hollywood, CA Hotel Cafe
9/10/2015 Thu New York, NY Iridium*
9/11/2015 Fri Newton, NJ Newton Theatre*
9/12/2015 Sat Beacon, NY Town Crier*
9/13/2015 Sun Montclair, NJ Outpost in the Burbs*
9/15/2015 Tue Vienna, VA Jammin Java*
9/16/2015 Wed New Hope, PA Havana*
9/18/2015 Fri Cincinatti, OH Ludlow at the Garage*
9/19/2015 Sat Indianpolis, IND
9/20/2015 Sun Spring Lake, MI Seven Steps Up*
9/22/2015 Tues Port Clinton, OH The Listening Room*
9/23/2015 Wed Pittsburgh, PA Hard Rock Café*
9/24/2015 Thur Harrisburg, PA Midtown Arts Center