In the words of Premiere Guitar Magazine, “ Johnny A.'s magic crosses over because, like Bill Frisell, he doesn't just play guitar - he plays music.”
"Just Me and My Guitars". Guitarist extraordinaire returns for One Show Only Live at Nighttown!
Lots of folks throw around the phrase “let the music do the talking,” but only a few have the fortitude to really do it – to just go out there and play, shunning flash, shrugging off image and reeling in the listener on the strength of the songs alone.
Johnny A. is that kind of performer. For the better part of three decades, the Massachusetts-based guitarist and bandleader has proven himself capable of generating heat at venues from working-class bars to international amphitheaters – and every sort of venue in between. And when the house lights are turned up, he’s just as adept at captivating serious students of the six-string with a virtuosity that earned him the rare honor of having his name placed on a signature Gibson® guitar.
“I want to create instrumental music and deliver it like a vocalist,” he says “You can be a great player, on any instrument, and people will take notice for a while…but what people really remember is someone who brings them a great melody.”
That take-no-prisoners attitude has been ingrained in Johnny A. since he first set foot on a stage, whether as leader of locally-acclaimed Boston acts like Hearts on Fire or in the company of acclaimed artists like J. Geils frontman Peter Wolf – whose band he anchored for more than seven years. It fully came to the fore in 1999, when he independently issued his first solo album, Sometime Tuesday Morning – a disc that eventually went on to sell 100,000 copies and spawn “Oh Yeah,” a single that topped the AAA charts (a feat no instrumental song had accomplished in more than a decade).
“When I was in my early bands, I sang, but when I was with [Peter Wolf], I came down with a really bad bronchial infection and never recovered my voice completely,” he says. “I made a conscious decision at that point to focus on instrumental music. I re-evaluated how I played, redefined my approach completely.”
That new approach won plenty of accolades from outlets like the Boston Phoenix, which dubbed him “a singular presence on the Boston rock and pop scene, winding jazz, blues, popular tunes, rock, and flourishes of psychedelic improvisation into a tight, passionate ball.” The success of Sometime Tuesday Morning led to a second release, Get Inside, which brought forth a radio hit in the form of the title track – and drew the folks at Gibson®, who approached Johnny to collaborate on a custom guitar, the second best selling signature model in the company’s illustrious line of instruments.