Ken Leighton 5 p.m., Jan. 24
Cowboy Jack Johnson
Sound description: Sounds just like Hank Williams sometimes, and like Johnny Cash other times, with a little Gene Autry undercurrent to every song.
RIYL: Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Gene Autry, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Woody Guthrie, Gary McMahan, Rex Allen, Jimmy Wakely, Tex Ritter
Upcoming Local Shows
- "The Sound of San Diego is...Kids' Music??" · Aug. 23, 2012
- Musician Interviews · Dec. 9, 2004
Inception: Bonsall, 1968
Current Status: Playing various venues.
Influences: Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Don Ho, the Beatles, Woody Guthrie
"I've been the Singing Cowboy of Rawhide Ranch for years now," says Cowboy Jack Johnson. "That's a dude ranch in Bonsall -- it's been there since the '60s, with Old West facades and stages...kids learn how to take care of and ride horses and stuff. Then, at the big campfire, I sing a bunch of cowboy standards and tell stories about the Old West. I do that most every Saturday night, whenever I'm not booked with one of my band projects."
The longtime (since 1968) San Diegan is also the originator and lead performer of the Hank Show, which he calls "a re-creation, not a tribute, of the music of Hank Williams, Sr. We've been doing it about six years now, with hits from the width of his career. He recorded from '47 to '53 and we play the songs in chronological order. The band wears vintage smile-pocket Western shirts with hats and ties and we all play instruments accurate to that era."
For the Hank Show, Johnson strums guitar while his bandmates use the same style hollow-body electric guitar, steel guitar, fiddle, and upright bass used by their Sr. inspirations. "My 'Hank suit' was made for me by one of the same guys who tailored Hank's clothes. He's, like, 78 now; he was one of the guys at Nudies Rodeo Tailors [who dressed ZZ Top, among others] and he made me a replica of Hank's suit...the white suit with black musical notes."
Johnson formed another "re-creation" called "Band in Black," featuring the music of Johnny Cash. "That band does the same thing -- we dress in black and play vintage gear like an upright bass, the lead guitarist uses a Telecaster, and I have my Martin guitar [Cash owned several Martins]. We cover the late '50s through early '60s, all presented based on research and authentic down to the last detail."
Johnson also plays with the North County Cowboys.
Thanks to Australian DJ Bob Atkins playing tracks from Johnson CDs down under, on the Bay FM 100.3 radio station, Johnson played for his new Aussie fans in Queensland, Australia on July 26, 2012.