Mixing the St. Louis blues of his youth with the country-meets-rock ‘n roll attitude he picked up Houston, Jeremiah Johnson has created a signature style that’s won him fans the country over and shot him up the charts, landing him at #5 on the Billboard Blues Charts for his July release on Connor Ray Music, Blues Heart Attack.
First and foremost, Johnson considers himself a guitar player, steeped in the mythos of the legends that came before him—Alvin Lee, Hank Williams, Jr., Eric Clapton—and like the 1972 Western from which he gets his name, Johnson has a distinctly American ethos of hard work. In fact, young Jeremiah was only six when he picked up his first guitar, and it wasn’t all that long until he was making waves for his talents, finishing in first place for three consecutive years at the Houston Regional Blues Challenges upon moving to the city in 1999.
Johnson knew he could rely on his band to help him create Blues Heart Attack, an album that offered a wideshot on a long career, with some tracks 10 years in the making, and others put together on the spot at Sawhorse Studio in St. Louis. Along with Jason McIntire, he called on his whole band– Jeff Girardier on bass and vocals, Benet Schaeffer on drums, Frank Bauer on sax and vocals, Nathan Hershey on keys– to act as producers.
Today, Elmore is sharing the band’s live performance video for a track from that release, “Southern Drawl,” which was filmed and recorded live at Beale on Broadway in Downtown St Louis MO in July. Johnson shares, ““Southern Drawl” is a very special song to me, because I wrote it thinking about my grandmother. She now has dementia and doesn’t remember me anymore. The last time she did remember me will always be three minutes of time I will cherish forever. As southern as they come, she was born in the Paducah, Kentucky area, married at 14 years old, raised on a tobacco farm, barely formally educated but country-wise, worked sun up to sundown, cooked, cleaned, loved God and her family like no other. She practically raised me for many years and has been one of the strongest women I have known in my life. I would suggest you talk to the ones you love, as often as you can, you never know when it will be your last three minutes.”
It’s fun to get a sneak peek into the day to day touring life of the band as they unload their gear and greet excited fans, and there’s a subtle art to the video, from the transition from black and white to full color once the band takes the stage to close ups of the players’ instruments. Close attention to little details, like the American flag in Johnson’s pocket, makes the experience all the more vivid. Like the titular drawl, the track is slow and sweet, bringing back memories of sticky summer days, when Johnson might have sat alongside his grandmother, sharing stories and a glass of cold lemonade.
Catch him tonight, October 14th, at Wilbert’s in Cleveland, OH and tomorrow, the 15th, at Balloons in Ellicottville, NY. For more info on the band, head to their website, and check out the video for “Southern Drawl” below.