I know. It doesn’t really make any sense that this post is four after the last and that’s because it’s not. It was with a heavy heart that, after having paid three years of hosting subs to my server, some nasty person who I could call a very rude name decided to send a nasty boom in the direction of my hosting server and my website disappeared. Because I had recently moved everything online to WordPress (which, in all other matters, is a wonderful thing to be working on), I lost all my website updates back to sometime around the beginning of 2011. Doh !!!
Here I am anyway, kind of starting again. There are a few developments since 2011.
I am now the resident pianist at the Cáca Milis Cabaret. A wonderful Wexford institution run by the marvellously scatty Helena Mulkerns who aims to bring together the best she can find in the worlds of dance, music, comedy, film (shorts), spoken word and sometimes a mix of more than one. She called me when she had decided to start a Dublin version of the same thing and we have a lot of fun putting new songs together and singing and playing them for the audience in the gaps. I also like to travel down to Wexford and perform at the original of the species whilst getting a chance to have a Pad Thai at The Vine. It’s still lovely. I digress. Sometimes I accompany some of the other singers or musicians. Sometimes, when I think nobody is listening, I sing a song myself. You’re never quite sure what you’re going to get but mostly, it’s a good evening at least.
Through the Cáca Milis, I was reaquainted with Miss Truly DiVine who I had met previously as Lou Van Laake with David MacKenzie in a tiny cafe on Clare Street on Dublin 2 back in 2004. We were playing as a duo and she was the first person to ever applaud a solo – this made her stand out from the crowd for me so it was nice to meet her again when both Hedda Kaphengst who I have worked with on and off for the last 12 years and Helena Mulkerns independently of each other allowed me cross her orbit. Over the last year, we have been putting shows together in Arthur’s Pub on Thomas Street and sometimes in other places too. We tend to criss cross two shows. One is called Burning Love, a fun mix of songs sketching the darker side of love – what I like to call love noir. The other has been an evolving show featuring the songs made famous by Marlene Dietrich – Dietrich’s Angels. Truly Louly is a marvellous singer and a very very positive person to be around. It is a lot of fun to work with her. I do hope you can make it to one of the shows soon. Actually, we’re putting the Dietrich show on ice temporarily as we decided we needed something more summery given the beautiful weather we’ve been having so we’re going to pay musical tribute to Doris Day instead. Being the person she is, Truly Louly can’t resist finding the dark side of her but the evening will be great. That’s on August 22nd, again in Arthur’s on Thomas Street in the city centre of Dublin.
This was supposed to be a short newspost. Oh well. I’ll wrap up now. Not doing a huge amount of my own stuff at the moment but I quite fancy changing that a little next year. I still haven’t managed to venture very far internationally but you never know, that could all change soon, particularly as I’m about to turn forty. Aaaaggghhhh.
Enjoy the sun !!!
The Shape Of Things is now out. I am looking at spreading the net a little bit further over the next few months but for now you can buy from this website or Shandon Records here.
I’m looking forward to the launch tonight and the forthcoming tour of the south of England – if you’re interested in the genesis of the CD, you can get more information at two newly updated sites
my Featured Artist page on Podcasts.ie – Thanks to Jho and Sinead who came up from Sligo a few weeks ago to record me chatting with them about my work. I’ve also played a few live sets for podcasts.ie which will be going up over the next few months.
Today I launch my 3rd solo CD The Shape Of Things with a piano-solo concert tonight at the Unitarian Church in Dublin. I’ll be following this up with three concerts in the South of England in early October 2010.
The Shape Of Things Live
Saturday 25th September 2010 @ 8pm
Unitarian Church, St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2
Tickets &euro 10 available on the door or reserved by e-mail from
Saturday 2nd October 2010 @ 8pm
Unitarian Chapel, New Road, Brighton, BN1 1UF
Tickets £8 available at the door
Sunday 3rd October 2010 @ 7.30pm
Meadrow Chapel, Godalming, Surrey, GU7 3JB
Tickets £7 available at the door
Sunday October 10th 2010 @ 8pm
Unity Unitarian Church, 277a Upper St., Islington,
London, N1 2TZ (next to the fire station)
Tickets £8 available at the door
The CD itself is a piano-solo CD recorded two days after the end of the big freeze in January 2010 in St. Peters’ Church of Ireland in Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland. The cover was designed by Keith Mullins using photographs taken by Will O’Connell. It features 11 original compositions, a new composition by long-time collaborator David MacKenzie and a unique interpretation of The Late Traiin by Roesy. Although there was a composed structure to all of the tracks, various parts of some of the music were improvised in the studio.
The idea of a completely instrumental album had been brewing for a while. I’ve always put instrumentals into my live set as the piano and my piano style are such an important part of my sound and I know that people enjoy that side of my playing. Many people had been suggesting that I should record a purely instrumental piano album but I always resisted. I could always hear other instruments in my arrangements and love working with other musicians.
When I was considering recording a follow-up to Asylum Harbour, I spent a day recording piano with Brian Masterson who I’d worked with before with David MacKenzie and on Asylum Harbour itself. We went to Drogheda to record with no preconceptions, but to record whatever happened.
The sound grew organically from the beginning of the session which took place at the tail-end of the big freeze in the middle of January 2010. By the end of the day we had 13 tracks and that was definitely a CD’s worth so we decided to put it out as it was.
For the first time with this album, you can hear full tracks directly from my website – www.joshjohnston.com – as well as find out concert dates and more information about the music. You can already pre-order the CD directly from this website too. The CD will also be available from I-Tunes, CDBaby.com and various digital download sites across the world from September 25th.
I also have pages on last.fm, facebook, twitter and MySpace – do drop by and show your support if you frequent any of these.
Hope to see you at one of the shows. Thanks for your continued support.
Today I took delivery of the first production run of my soon-to-be-new CD – The Shape Of Things.
Just after the last time I posted something below, I went to Galway and recorded an album. It took the form of an instrumental album, not because the tracks were meant to be instrumentals but because quite a lot of the tracks had few or no lyrics. Instead, we recorded 14 backing tracks in 5 days and I spent the winter with the tunes on my ipod coaxing myself into a place where I could finish the songs.
At one point that didn’t look like happening and I decided it would be fun to do what a lot of people have been suggesting I do for a very long time and that was record a real instrumental CD, piano solo. Most of the tracks are first takes too which retains the spontaneity of the session very nicely. It was recorded in St. Peters’ Church of Ireland in Drogheda on the lovely Steinway piano that they mind for Louth County Council Arts Office. Brian Masterson drove and recorded. It was a very enjoyable day.
“Sometimes I think too much” (Paul Simon)
Where Asylum Harbour hoped to answer (or at least voice in lyrics) some of the questions of this particular human experience, this one came at a time when I realised that sometimes there are both not enough words and too many words to provide calm in this topsy-turvy world – in these times we need a moment of quiet.
The CD features 11 original compositions, a new composition by my friend and long-time collaborator David MacKenzie and a unique interpretation of The Late Traiin by Roesy. Maintainiing a gentle sense of calm throughout, it nonetheless has moments of drama and a romantically wintery atmosphere. My various musical interests come through in the piano playing whether it’s the dreamily melodic melodies of A Light In The Dark Of Night and the various Nightsongs (inspired by a time in life when I could get away with improvising on the piano late at night) scattered through the CD or the spontaneous development of Cimiez and Saving A Life (large parts of these were improvised in the studio). You can hear some tracks from the CD by clicking on “Discography” on the banner and then clicking on “The Shape Of Things”.
I have organised a few concerts to allow me get out and play some of this music in a live setting. The launch of the CD will be in the Unitarian Church on September 25th and I’m also playing live in England for the first time with concerts in Brighton (2nd October), Godalming (3rd October) and London (Islington 10th October) – details are on the concerts page.
Read more and hear tracks on the Discography page.
My goodness but I’ve been away a while. I’ve been doing a huge amount of things. I just haven’t been very good at documenting them here.
The CD release tour in Autumn 2008 went well – not hugely economically successful but that wasn’t REALLY the point. We got the music out of our systems onto the computer, onto the discs and then around the country to a selection of live venues in a very successful way. The album I made was the album I wanted to make and I’m very proud of it. It doesn’t contain any surefire hit singles which is why you haven’t heard much of it on the radio. I’m about to go and start to record another one in August – early days yet but it’s exciting to see what happens. This one promises to be very different and not all of the songs are composed yet. They may even be composed in the studio and I’m recording with a band in the room so it will be much more about the sound and chemistry of a band working together than the last CD. I’m looking forward to seeing how it works. The working title is “The Art Of Saving Lives”. Always good to have a working title even if you don’t end up using it.
Did a whole pile of gigs with David and Andrew Csibi in the spring which were a lot of fun. We ventured into international waters for the first time with a tour of Unitarian Churches in England. Andrew drove, I read the Sat Nav and David translated my directions to precise instructions for Andrew – a real team effort. The music was super and got better as the week went on. 10 gigs in 7 days – exhausting but huge fun. At least I enjoyed it anyway.
And between that, I’ve been shuttling through a variety of other projects – playing keys for Stewart Agnew, SJ McArdle, Noelie McDonnell, Ronan Swift, Peadar King, Leaving Cert music practical exam students, and Hedda Kaphengst’s Serendipity Theatre Group performing music and drama in nursing homes across Ireland at Christmas and during May 2009. Hedda and I are on our way off to Los Angeles on Tuesday to perform our May show to 16 nursing homes in the Hollywood area over 10 days. Better remember to pack my Factor 20 but it’s still hugely exciting times. Ronan Swift’s CD is finally being launched in Dublin in September – date and place tbc. Sure you know I’ll let you know when we know. I recorded the piano tracks for it in 2005 or maybe even earlier, it was finished and mixed and generally forgotten about until we started recording the second one. We hope to have that out on Shandon Records (my label) in the new year.
And this week, I’ve been doing a music business course run by Music Network – absolutely brilliant information to keep us musical dreamers going with the hard part of actually selling the music. And lots of tea breaks so we actually get to meet loads of other cool musicians too. Today was Online Marketing which it appears is even more of a minefield that I previously thought so the plan is to be more visible on the web from now on. I’d say you’ll hear from me a little more too, but only if I have really interesting things to say. I’ve also started a blog at Josh’s World if you’re interested in my musings and ramblings. Probably not but I thought I’d mention it.
As you can see, there is nothing to plug whatsoever in this bulletin – I just thought it would be nice to fill you in with some news. I’ll let you know how the sessions go. All the best for now, jj
On October 29th 2008, Shandon Records will release Asylum Harbour, my second solo CD featuring the lineup of musicians that played the concerts in Dublin at the beginning of this year as well as some other guests. The album is a mix of original compositions mostly written or co-written by me covering the themes of home, identity and the search for calm in this mixed-up world. I’m taking to the road to promote the CD and these gigs are listed in the Concerts page. You can hear tracks from the album at my Myspace Page.
This page is about to be redesigned so I’d guide you to the Myspace page for the most in-depth information on the CD.
Hope to see you at one of the gigs.
Other News . . .
Thanks to all who supported the David & Josh roadshow over the summer. It was great to get out playing again after a long time being cooped up mixing the Notes Home CD. It’s still available from the shop at Davidandjosh.com. It’s also now available from I-Tunes worldwide as well as various other digital download sites thanks to our partnership with www.cdbaby.com.
Finally, I’ve also started gigging with other great bands. Stewart Agnew is a terrific singer-songwriter from Dundalk and I’ve joined his band to play a lot of new music he’s written which we’ll hopefully record over the next few months. In the meantime, we’re playing in The Spirit Store in Dundalk on 26th October and 15th November, and Bewleys in Dublin on 25th November, and The Crane in Galway on 27th November.
Ronan Swift – whose hiterto-unreleased CD I played on four years ago – is playing a concert in Bewleys on 14th December. I’m playing keys and Eoin O’Brien (electric guitar) and Bill Blackmore (trumpet) make up the rest of the band.
The current news is that David MacKenzie & Josh Johnston, in association with Shandon Records (Josh’s label) released their 2nd CD Notes Home on June 19th through their website . As previously mentioned, the CD features David & Josh playing 13 original jazz compositions ably supported musically by Stephen McFarlane (electric guitar), Andrew Csibi (double bass) and Robbie Harris (percussion) and technically by sound engineer Brian Masterson. If you want to get a copy, it’s best to head over to the shop where you can pay for it with credit card or Paypal. They’re on the road this month to promote the release. Details are also on the David & Josh website.
Josh’s own recording and mixing sessions for his 2nd solo CD are continuing apace – concerts around Ireland will happen in October either to launch the CD or to give the band a break from the cabin fever. More details to follow.
Josh Johnston & friends have begun recording a 2nd CD. With a different group of friends this time, the project, tentatively titled Asylum Harbour is at a very early stage at the moment. However, Josh is taking what’s rehearsed so far to the stage next week to see if other people enjoy the songs and tunes as much as he does. The gig is in Bewleys Cafe Theatre (Josh’s favourite haunt at the moment in Dublin city centre, and it’s got a piano) on Friday February 22nd. The band are
Josh Johnston – Piano & vocals
Mark Conway – Acoustic Guitar & vocals
Eoin O’Brien – Electric Guitar
Alex Bajgart – Bass
Beta Bajgartova – Vocals
Support is by Ronan Swift.
Doors open at 8.30 pm and tickets cost &euro 10. It is advisable to come early and if you know you’re coming, it’s even more advisable to ring the Bewleys Ticket Line which is 086 8784001. You still pay at the door but this means your ticket is safe until 9pm, after which all unclaimed tickets get sold to people in the queue. Sounds a bit presumptious of me but there’s a strict capacity of 50 places in Bewleys and I’ve heard the music – you won’t want to miss this one !