4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Johnny Vernazza's all-star solo album drops June 1 on Shelter Island

Elvin Bishop guitarist celebrating 50 years in the music biz at Kona Kai Resort & Marina

"I joined San Francisco’s Local 6 in 1963 with a note from my mom," says guitar god Johnny Vernazza. Born in San Francisco and raised in Daly City, California, he spent the 1970s touring with a gospel band and recorded with blues players like Commander Cody, Luther Tucker, Sunnyland Slim, Gregg Allman, Chuck Berry, Steve Miller, Charlie Daniels, and George Thorogood. Vernazza also spent years with blues-harp player Norton Buffalo and his band the Knockouts, with whom Vernazza still occasionally tours.

He's probably best known, however, for his lengthy stint with the Elvin Bishop band, playing on a half dozen albums and laying down tracks like the 1976 hit “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” (which rose to #3 on the charts) and “Struttin’ My Stuff.” He moved to San Diego in 2001.

His new full-length, Lions and Thieves, released on local Blindspot Records, drops June 1 at Kona Kai Resort & Marina on Shelter Island. "Attendees can expect to see a bad ass band playing some great music," Vernazza tells the Reader. "I’m celebrating my 50th year in the business, and there will be some of the folks that played on a couple tracks."

None

The album features originals, tunes written by friends, blues standards, and a cover of “Black Coffee” by Humble Pie. Contributors and players include Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, Charlie Daniels, Albert Lee, and famed L.A. Wrecking Crew producer Don Peake.

“I engaged the service of my good friend Don Peake as my producer,” says Vernazza. “Don started his career playing guitar with the Everly Brothers in 1961 and was later hired by Ray Charles in 1964, a gig that lasted well into the '90s. In the '60s...Don later composed the music for the Knight Rider TV series.”

Also twisting knobs: Route 44 Studio owner Harry Gale (Lloyd Jones, George Thorogood & the Destroyers). “I've worked with Harry on many projects,” says Vernazza. “He's brilliant, innovative, [and] always brings great ideas to the mix. He has no fear of pushing the boundaries to achieve something new. Harry contributes so much to everything he's involved with.”

The album has a somewhat different sound from his previous solo releases. "It’s a new band with Mark Bentley [keys and vocals], Jim Reeves [bass and vocals], and Brian 'Nucci' Cantrell [drums and vocals], all San Diego veteran musicians that I handpicked for the CD who very quickly turned into the band. Mark Bentley wrote one track and co-wrote two others on the CD. They all had a very strong hand in the production."

As for the album title, “That comes from a line in the opera Salome, where the jealous stepfather tells Salome that he saw one of her male interest 'resting in the shade with the lions and thieves.'”

Vernazza’s last solo album Jungle Out There was recorded in 2009 at Studio West in Rancho Bernardo. In his down time, he can often be found playing sideman to local blues cat Len Rainey.

In May 2011, Vernazza played the Zydeco-and-blues fest Gator by the Bay, which included reunion sets with former bandmates Elvin Bishop and Norton Buffalo. It was only the second such reunion with Bishop since Vernazza left the Elvin Bishop Band in 1978.

In 2012, he picked up an endorsement deal with Dean Markley Strings. “I was with them back in the '70s,” he says, “when I was with Elvin and they were a young company.”

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

Santa Ysabel dairy land ebbs away, Jamul casino dreams

Will Dunbar Lane be blocked, the mines on Banner Grade, Julian's tentative feelings about tourists, Dogpatch U.S.A., 1989 Julian shootout, a drought in the mountains?

"I joined San Francisco’s Local 6 in 1963 with a note from my mom," says guitar god Johnny Vernazza. Born in San Francisco and raised in Daly City, California, he spent the 1970s touring with a gospel band and recorded with blues players like Commander Cody, Luther Tucker, Sunnyland Slim, Gregg Allman, Chuck Berry, Steve Miller, Charlie Daniels, and George Thorogood. Vernazza also spent years with blues-harp player Norton Buffalo and his band the Knockouts, with whom Vernazza still occasionally tours.

He's probably best known, however, for his lengthy stint with the Elvin Bishop band, playing on a half dozen albums and laying down tracks like the 1976 hit “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” (which rose to #3 on the charts) and “Struttin’ My Stuff.” He moved to San Diego in 2001.

His new full-length, Lions and Thieves, released on local Blindspot Records, drops June 1 at Kona Kai Resort & Marina on Shelter Island. "Attendees can expect to see a bad ass band playing some great music," Vernazza tells the Reader. "I’m celebrating my 50th year in the business, and there will be some of the folks that played on a couple tracks."

None

The album features originals, tunes written by friends, blues standards, and a cover of “Black Coffee” by Humble Pie. Contributors and players include Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, Charlie Daniels, Albert Lee, and famed L.A. Wrecking Crew producer Don Peake.

“I engaged the service of my good friend Don Peake as my producer,” says Vernazza. “Don started his career playing guitar with the Everly Brothers in 1961 and was later hired by Ray Charles in 1964, a gig that lasted well into the '90s. In the '60s...Don later composed the music for the Knight Rider TV series.”

Also twisting knobs: Route 44 Studio owner Harry Gale (Lloyd Jones, George Thorogood & the Destroyers). “I've worked with Harry on many projects,” says Vernazza. “He's brilliant, innovative, [and] always brings great ideas to the mix. He has no fear of pushing the boundaries to achieve something new. Harry contributes so much to everything he's involved with.”

The album has a somewhat different sound from his previous solo releases. "It’s a new band with Mark Bentley [keys and vocals], Jim Reeves [bass and vocals], and Brian 'Nucci' Cantrell [drums and vocals], all San Diego veteran musicians that I handpicked for the CD who very quickly turned into the band. Mark Bentley wrote one track and co-wrote two others on the CD. They all had a very strong hand in the production."

As for the album title, “That comes from a line in the opera Salome, where the jealous stepfather tells Salome that he saw one of her male interest 'resting in the shade with the lions and thieves.'”

Vernazza’s last solo album Jungle Out There was recorded in 2009 at Studio West in Rancho Bernardo. In his down time, he can often be found playing sideman to local blues cat Len Rainey.

In May 2011, Vernazza played the Zydeco-and-blues fest Gator by the Bay, which included reunion sets with former bandmates Elvin Bishop and Norton Buffalo. It was only the second such reunion with Bishop since Vernazza left the Elvin Bishop Band in 1978.

In 2012, he picked up an endorsement deal with Dean Markley Strings. “I was with them back in the '70s,” he says, “when I was with Elvin and they were a young company.”

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close