Spring 2017 – Hege Anita, Pierce Turner, Art Of Saving Lives

Thanks to all those who have been in touch to say how much they enjoyed my various contributions to two CD releases last year. Although neither were solo releases, their releases were two of the most important events in my career to date.

“Close Your Eyes”, which I recorded with Dutch singer Truly DiVine was launched almost exactly a year ago from the date of this post and we decided to stop gigging almost immediately after we launched it. We are both extremely proud of the CD (and it is still available from this website) but the pushing to get it out as well as some differences in opinion in how to proceed as a duo made the partnership a little less relaxed and it was decided to park it in August after a final concert in Arthurs. Funnily enough, I saw the CD as a springboard to greater things but it ended up being a swansong. That’s the way life happens sometimes.

I was involved in The Lazy Band‘s album preparations for 18 months of the 9 years that the idea had been gestating. The 10 piece band convened in my aunt’s livingroom in Galway for a week in early January 2016 and recorded a very charming CD that reflected all the band member’s musical and personal interests. Having moved slowly for 8 years, it went from recording to release in 8 months. Some change of pace. Some of us almost came to blows over it but we’re all still friends thankfully. You can buy copies of the CD online from www.thelazyband.ie but for the full experience you should go along to a Lazy Band session on the last Monday of the month in Arthurs on Thomas Street, Dublin 8.

2017 is all about new possibilities and new possibilities arising from old seeds. I am in the process of recording a long awaited follow up to 2010’s piano solo disc, The Shape Of Things. The working title for this is The Art Of Saving Lives. Not sure yet if that is too pretentious but it’s fitting with the vibe of the tracks already recorded. Basic tracks for several tracks were recorded before The Shape Of Things was recorded but I am now proceeding with a vengeance on developing them and hopefully completing the project late this year or early in 2018. It is an ensemble record in the mould of Asylum Harbour and features songs and instrumentals.

In 2008, I started working in a very sporadic fashion with Norwegian singer-songwriter Hege-Anita Skjaervik. We, with the help of many friends and accomplices, have tapped away in our spare time at recording an album of her songs and we are looking forward to releasing it in Norway and Ireland this June 2017. We will be playing with many of the band from the album in Whelan’s (upstairs) in Dublin on Thursday June 22nd. Keep the date in your diary. In the meantime, you can listen or even download the first single from the album by going to her website and clicking on the Recordings tab.

I have also recently started playing gigs with Wexford-born, New York resident singer-songwriter Pierce Turner. A pianist himself, he recorded a CD in a Lutheran church in Manhattan. When he came over to tour it, he decided to play at the Unitarian Church in Dublin and asked me to insert the pipe organ parts from the record. My pleasure. He will come over again this June but this time we are playing in Whelans as well as in St. Iberius Church in Wexford. Dates to follow.

See you on the road.

Truly & Josh in Arthurs on Thomas Street, Dublin 8

After a few months travelling around between weddings, pubs down the country and visiting other Dublin venues, Truly DiVine and I are bringing the Close Your Eyes album to our regular home Arthurs, 28 Thomas Street, Dublin 8 on Friday August 26th at 8.30pm. We’ll be playing lots of songs from the new CD as well as a few new favourites that we’ve picked up along the way. I’ll also have the opportunity to toast a new piano at the venue. Exciting.

You will of course also be able to buy copies of Close Your Eyes at the gig.

To buy tickets in advance, thereby nabbing them at the discounted price of €10, click here.

Truly DiVine & Josh in Dublin – Cobalt Cafe, North Great Georges Street this Friday evening

Truly DiVine & Josh Johnston – Close Your Eyes
Cobalt Cafe, North Great Georges Street, Dublin 1
Show 8.30pm
Tickets €12 on the night or €10 in advance from here.

“mixing flirty theatricality and an authentic sense of period with precise vocals and an attention to the musical details of the songs” Cormac Lappin, Irish Times

After a packed out gig to launch their debut CD as a duo, Truly DiVine and Josh return to Dublin in anticipation of a nationwide tour starting at the end of August 2016. This gig is to warm people up ahead of the tour. Playing music from the CD (which features songs made famous by screen sirens and jazz anti-divas such as Marlene Dietrich, Blossom Dearie, Doris Day, Rita Hayworth and others), the evening is a sensuous and fun mixture of nostalgia and great songs.

Close Your Eyes on Youtube

Close Your Eyes now available to purchase from www.joshjohnston.com

Close Your Eyes – Truly DiVine & Josh Johnston

Shandon Records is very proud to announce the release of the first CD outing of Josh Johnston as a duo with Dutch singer and actress Truly DiVine. With a songlist collected from three and a half years of producing successful themed concerts in Dublin and across Ireland, Dutch singer Truly DiVine and Irish pianist Josh Johnston have created an album of songs about love from Broadway and the silver screen. Click here to read the full press release.

1. Close your eyesCD600G_out
Written by Bernice Petkere
Learnt from the recording of Doris Day and André Previn (1962)
2. This girl’s in love with you (1968)
Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David
3. Try your wings (1958)
Written by Michael Barr and Dion McGregor for Blossom Dearie
4. Down with Love (1937)
Written by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg
From the musical “Hooray for what?”
5. Johnny (1931)
Written by Friedrich Holländer
From “The Song of Songs” (1933), performed by Marlene Dietrich
6. The heat is on (1953)
Written by Lester Lee and Ned Washington
From “Miss Sadie Thompson” (1953), performed by Jo Ann Greer (as the singing voice of Rita Hayworth), banned when the film first came out for being too raunchy.
7. Girl Talk (1965)
Written by Neal Hefti and Bobby Troup
From “Harlow”, the biopic of Jean Harlow
8. Look me over closely (1953)
Written by Terry Gilkyson for Marlene Dietrich
9. Ev’rything I’ve got (1942)
Written by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart
From the musical “By Jupiter”.
10. It’s magic (1947)
Written by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn
From “Romance on the high seas” (1947), performed by Doris Day
11. Candy (1944)
Written by Alex Kramer, and Mack David and Joan Whitney
12. Frim Fram Sauce (1945)
Written by Joe Ricardel and Redd Evans
13. One for my baby (1943)
Written by Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer
From “Macao” (1953), performed by Jane Russell
14. Hooray for Love (1935)
Written by Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields

Truly DiVine – singing
Josh Johnston – piano

Produced by Josh Johnston & Truly DiVine
Engineered & mixed by Michael Manning
Mastered by Ciaran Byrne

Released 8th April 2016

Hear some samples of the album here

Buy this CD now for €15 (including p&p worldwide from here.

If you are in Dublin, it is also available in Tower Records on Dawson Street.

The CD is now available to buy digitally from I-Tunes Music Store and to stream from Spotify and other digital music outlets.

Close Your Eyes – a new recording by Truly DiVine & Josh Johnston

CD600G_out“Close Your Eyes” opens with that kind of jazz number that’s not quite a standard, but resonates a jazz heyday that’s a joy to re-experience. You know that old movie scene … the one where the guy in the double-breasted suit walks into a nightclub and stares up at a siren in a lamé dress? That’s the one. The lights are low and the mood is sultry and the songs will inevitably be of seduction, love or heartbreak.



This is the setting for “Close Your Eyes”, the excellent debut album from Truly DiVine and Josh Johnston, a duo whose themed shows have delighted Dublin audiences over the past three years. With titles like “Burning Love”, “Dietrich’s Angels”, “Dreaming of Doris” and “Screen Sirens” the evenings presented both standard and lesser-known jazz songs in a velvet and cigarettes ambience, with Miss DiVine’s mellifluous vocal and flirty stage patter pitched splendidly against Johnston’s dry wit and consummate piano mastery. The result is no little magic.

The duo work seamlessly together. In fact, they come from completely different musical backgrounds. DiVine is a self-taught jazz singer who also studied theatre in her native Holland before taking up cabaret and eventually becoming a doyenne of the Dublin jazz and burlesque scene. Johnston studied classical piano and organ, recorded the debut of three albums in 2001 and has performed with a broad spectrum of contemporary musicians since then. In 2013 he became accompanist with the Cáca Milis Cabaret, where both he and DiVine would regularly appear. The album, like the shows, features songs that are intimate, clever and sexy, taking the listener from the first blush of flirtation through romance, obsession and heartbreak.

“The song choice was very obvious as we were going through what we had sung during the shows”, says Johnston. “There was very little disagreement on what we wanted on the album.”

“If it sounds intimate,” notes Truly DiVine, “that’s because the shows were always very intimate. Our ideal audience would be eighty to a hundred people – because I can see people and interact with them, interpret what kind of songs they are enjoying and run with that … “

The title track was originally written in 1933 by Bernice Petkere, and subsequently recorded by Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and Doris Day. Songs may be familiar, such as “This Girl’s In Love With You” by Bacharach and David, or Arlen and Mercer’s classic “One For My Baby”, but others are far more obscure, such as “The Heat Is On”, originally banned in the U.S. as part of the soundtrack of “Miss Sadie Thompson” starring Rita Hayworth. “It is one of the songs on the album for which you can no longer even get sheet music,” explains DiVine. “This is one of the reasons why I love working with Josh. For example, “Johnny”, originally sung by Marlene Dietrich, only existed as a recording on my computer bounced from a videotape. But Josh listens to a song like this and can then do an interpretation.”

“I’ve specifically not tried to replicate the old songs,” explains Johnston. “On the other hand, we deliberately didn’t bring in extra musicians or extensive production because it’s all very much about the song …”

Love songs (“It’s Magic”), sassy songs (“Frim Fram Sauce”) and delightfully quirky ones like “Everything I’ve Got”, as sung by New York’s Blossom Dearie, all shine on the album, which is imminently listenable if not addictive. Truly DiVine’s voice is that of the über jazz chanteuse, clear, soulful and sensual. Johnston’s accompaniment does exactly what it’s supposed to until it bubbles into well-appointed filigree piano breaks, where smoky beat basement jazz blends with Hollywood rococo and back into a perfect match with the vocal.

Truly DiVine and Josh Johnston will be performing the songs from “Close Your Eyes” this Spring and early Summer, starting with the official launch on Friday April 8th 2016 at 8pm in the Dublin Unitarian Church on St. Stephen’s Green​. Tickets €15 on the night or €12 in advance from www.dublinunitarianchurch.org

The album will be available from Tower Records and the artistes’ respective websites,
www.misstrulydivine.com and www.joshjohnston.com from the launch date.

It will also be available from most popular music download websites from mid-April 2016.

For more information, contact;

Josh Johnston
Shandon Records

Close Your Eyes – new CD with singer Truly DiVine

CLOSE YOUR EYES – a new recording
Truly DiVine (singing)
Josh Johnston (piano)

Produced by Josh Johnston & Truly DiVine
Engineered & Mixed by Michael Manning
Set for launch April 2016

In the Spring of 2013, Dutch singer Truly DiVine and pianist Josh Johnston resumed a lost friendship and began working together on a string of successful shows along various themes. The first – Burning Love – explored the dark side of love through music and story and the shows that followed – Dietrich’s Angels, Dreaming Of Doris and Screen Sirens – focused on the music made famous by a succession of amazing screen icons. This year, they decided to record some of their favourite tunes from these shows, initially to send to venues and promoters. In the end, they recorded ten songs in four and a half hours and it was decided that as they were sounding so good, it would be a shame to only let the industry hear them. With another session, they would have enough for an album. That is what they have done.

The resulting collection, Close Your Eyes, was recorded in Cauldron Studios in Dublin with engineer Michael Manning and is a series of recordings of which they are intensely proud. From the tender, romantic It’s Magic (Doris Day) and Try Your Wings (Blossom Dearie) to the playful, cheeky Johnny (Marlene Dietrich) and The Heat Is On (Rita Hayworth), the disc is an intimate collection which gives an effect not unlike having Truly & Josh in your living room singing you gently through the night. You can hear some examples of this here

As it’s not ready for Christmas (the original plan), a new plan has been hatched to allow you to pre-order your signed copy (which will be posted to you a number of weeks before the official launch). In a Fundit-esque manner, they have decided you might like to contribute a slightly higher amount towards the production of the disc and if this is the case, they have devised a number of thank-you gifts for helping them, some of which – indeed – involve having Truly & Josh actually singing in your living room.

The deal is:

€10 – we will send you a download link for the whole album in either MP3 or WAV format as soon as it’s mastered.
€15 – 1 cd posted to you as soon as they arrive from the manufacturing plant.
€20 – 1 cd posted to you plus 1 ticket to the launch in Dublin in April.
€50 – 3 cds posted to you plus 3 tickets to the launch
€125 – acoustic duo performance of the album at your house (in Dublin) or another location for a very intimate gig indeed, plus a CD posted to you.
€250 – acoustic duo performance of the album at your house (nationwide) or another location for a very intimate gig indeed, plus a CD posted to you.
€500 -Quartet 2 hour performance (including the songs on the album) in your house, plus a CD posted to you NB – if you don’t live in Ireland, you might have to be patient until they’re actually in your neck of the woods.

To pre-order the disc, please click on the paypal button below and be sure to select which option you would like. If you would like to donate a different amount (like €30, or €1,000), Truly and Josh are not averse to this – please e-mail josh@joshjohnston.com and he will tell you how.


Happy Christmas from Josh & Truly !!!