Eric Johnson Creates a Vibe:
Classic Power Trio Triumphs on a Tuesday
Night in Teaneck, New Jersey!

A SoundPress.net Archive Article by Rich and Laura Lynch

Eric Johnson is a Grammy award winning musician. Eric started playing guitar at age eleven and by fifteen he was performing professionally. Johnson has been in various bands including the Electomagnets and has done session work. But it was Eric's solo records that earned him "guitar hero" status. Johnson's music is a magical fusion of styles ranging from blues, jazz, new age and rock.

Eric Johnson Creates a Vibe!

Eric is currently touring with Roscoe Beck (bass) and Tommy Taylor (drums) who played on Johnson's pivotal 1986 solo debut "Tones". Both Roscoe and Tommy are seasoned players with impressive resumes. As a trio they are titanic and tight as validated at Mexicali Blues on Tuesday, August 15, 2006.

Eric's guitars of choice are Stratocasters but of course he has others for different textures and tones. Johnson generally uses vintage amps. Eric states that "I prefer playing live because I can take the music and expand it through improvisation". Johnson does that and more in a live setting. His diverse interpretations of songs explode in colorful chord structures and creative jamming.

The Eric Johnson Trio took the stage shortly after nine, going straight into a fast, furious version of 'Summer Jam'. Eric's fingers were flying over the fret enhanced by effects and his masterful skills. The rhythm section added to the energy of this dynamic instrumental.

Eric Johnson Creates a Vibe!

Johnson covered Dylan's 'My Back Pages' as a blend of vocals and melodic instrumentation with a thick bottom and dramatic drumming, with each section flowing flawlessly into the mix. 'Trademark' was an upbeat, blues-based piece that featured a conversation between the bass and guitar punctuated by the drums. During the song, Johnson' skillyfully employed the tap technique.

Eric has his own signature sound but on occasion he pays tribute to other guitar greats including Jimi Hendrix, SVR and Joe Satriani. Johnson's version of 'Angle' was heavenly despite a slight technical issue with one of his amps. 'Country' had a down-home flavor, yet power packed with innovative licks as Eric picked chords out from the middle of the neck of his guitar. The rhythm section added their own playful parts to the arrangement.

'Morning Sun' was sultry with warm, slightly jazzy textures before moving into an animated jam. Eric utilized the treble effect as Beck scorched on the low chords. 'Columbia' was dedicated to the space shuttle and featured soaring leads and rhythms capturing the spirit of flying.

Eric Johnson Creates a Vibe!

The set continued to build momentum with a mix of older and newer songs, all featured first class musicianship from all three players. Roscoe even had an extended solo. He mentioned that the night before they had sat in with the legendary Les Paul, who at 91 was an inspiration to them all. Beck played an innovative instrumental that blended guitar and bass chords at the same time. Eric and Tommy returned to the stage after the solo for more dynamic musical exchanges. Johnson demonstrated additional technical skills on his instrument, soliciting sounds by playing chords close together on the neck.

Other highlights of the show were 'Cliffs of Dover', 'SVR' and a colorful cover of The Monkey's 'Little Bit Me'. The Eric Johnson Trio took the pop hit to a whole new level with talk effects and energized jamming. They closed the set with improvisational instrumentation.

The crowd at Mexicali Blues was dazzled and demanded two encores, which included the impressive 'Bloom' from Eric's latest record and another Hendrix tune. Someone in the audience yelled out "you're awesome" and that pretty much summed up the Eric Johnson experience.

Eric Johnson Creates a Vibe!

Related Links: For more information on Eric Johnson and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links -- EricJohnson.com | Mexicali Live

(Originally Published on August 20, 2006)

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