Royal Johnson “Blue Ridge Boogie”
Written by Shawn Chisholm on October 22, 2016
We caught up with the band at the Appalachian Mountain Brewery in Boone, the first stop on a pair of WNC dates. The night outside was cold and blustery, but the atmosphere was warm and lively inside and the band took us on a rollicking musical adventure of original material and an excellent cover of 32-20 blues directly after the setbreak.
According to the band’s website Royal Johnson started as a creative outlet for founders Chance Royal and Andy Johnson. As the magic began to grow members Kevin Vines bass and drummer Joanie Ferguson joined the duo to take the act on the road.
The group has a chemistry that makes their sound much greater than the sum of the original parts. Chance Royal stands at the rear of the stage, an unassuming presence… until he breaks out on his Gibson goldtop and consumes the room with a power and raw beauty that leaves you gasping for air.
The music is a blend of home-style southern roots with a deep funky groove
(ably provided by Vines and Ferguson) soulful vocals and big sweeping guitars that at times duel for your attention and at other moments play with a unison and simplicity leaving you to appreciate the underlying melodies on their own.
This band has only been playing together for a bit more than a year but the performance was big and powerful, each band member is a standout and yet they work together so as to make each member an essential part of the whole… Each time I want to elaborate on the performance of one I am struck by the contribution of the others… this band is a team pure and simple.
The debut album “Belly Full” is a fine piece of work that I can heartily recommend to all who read this review. It opens with a brief but hauntingly beautiful instrumental tune called “Sunset Roller Palace”, a tune that totally captured my attention and evokes thoughts of dueling banjos with a dash of Alan Parson’s Project “Sirius” shaken together and blended with some southern blues. The rest of the album does not disappoint and seeing these numbers performed live only made re-listening to the material even better. Next up “Boar” is full of angst, a man muttering in frustration shows of the vocal power of Andy Johnson “Plow” begins with a solid bassline provided Vines all intermingled by powerhouse guitar riffs by the unassuming Mr Chance Royal. I heartily recommend this album and if you have the chance you need to catch these guys live for sure.
For more information and album ordering check out their website: http://www.royaljohnsonband.com/