Jay Johnson
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Jay Johnson

Richardson, Texas, United States | SELF

Richardson, Texas, United States | SELF
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Let The TruthWagon Roll"

The song is “The Truthwagon,” which Johnson recorded in 2006 as a single at Eric Herbst’s Panhandle House studio in Denton. Before that, his most recent full CD was Royal Blue Moon in 2004.

That’s a shame.

His songs are so good that new ones should be available every year or two. His delivery of the songs is so right that he ought to be on stage frequently. Johnson’s music fits loosely into that too-broad-to- define-anymore-because-it’s-been-so-co-opted “Americana” genre; he’s taken to calling his songs simply “southern.” I lean toward calling it a bluesy sort of folky Southern pop-rock.

For eight or so years until recently, Johnson barely played four or five or so shows a year. But he’s back now, hosting a Thursday night show from 7-10PM at Love & War in Texas in Grapevine since November, sharing the stage with guests including Tommy Alverson,
blacktopGYPSY, Randy Brown, Troy Cartwright, Byron Dowd,
Matt Hillyer, Jeff Hopson, Ben Knight, Mark David Manders, Lisa Morales, Max Stalling, and musical partner Mark Lafon. Once or twice a month, he and Lafon have the stage to themselves. It’s a show he didn’t seek, but that he enjoys. “Tye Phelps and Courtney
Portwood contacted me to see if I wanted to do something at
Grapevine,” he said. “There was a hole in their schedule so we
talked about what kind of show and we fell into the idea of guest
songwriters and me. I open the show, then the guest does a full
set, then we get on stage together and do a song swap.” The song swap, which often includes influential cover songs by Johnson and the guests, is often the most fun for him. “It’s interesting to hear these other writers display their influences and songs they like,” he
said. “Matt did a Buddy Holly song that kind of caught me off guard. Everybody else, I kind of knew where they were coming from.

Johnson’s beginning to perform more often again; his schedule includes the Wildflower Festival, Tommy Alverson’s Family Gathering, Terry Razor’s “Raz on the Braz,” the Far Out Art Fest in Ben Wheeler, and a house concert. He’s ready to do more shows in clubs and other venues after taking off for quite a while to help put two daughters through college. “I got a good job opportunity that required a lot of focus on my part, a big-time commitment,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss that opportunity. So I took the time off and got my kids through college. I didn’t quit playing, I just quit playing a lot.” “I’m a musician,” he said, “and I’m supposed to be making music. Whatever cards I’m dealt, they have music notes on them, and I’m supposed to play them.”

One of his intriguing concepts that slips into is songwriting is the 100-year rule for poets: Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, John Keats, William Wordsworth, William Blake, Ranier Maria Rilke and others.
“My criteria for reading material, especially poetry, is the 100-year rule. Anything that has existed for 100 years has been passed down from one generation to the next,” Johnson said. “That qualifies it as being good enough to pass down. If you are going to give something to your child, it would be the good stuff, not the crappy stuff. So something that has lasted and I can find it after a hundred years, that means it had enough value to be handed from one generation to the next. I do read current novels and stuff.

Johnson is also working on a new set of songs with Lafon, although he won’t put a timetable on the project. The two are also just beginning to put a full band together. As good a lyricist as Johnson
is, it’s not a song without the music. “One of the reasons I want Mark in on the start of this is that I want to have some really strong
music behind this idea,” he said. “I would say all of poetry is a circle, and all of music is a circle, and at the intersection of those two circles is pop music. The best songs are both. That’s just on the mechanics of it. Then you gotta put some soul into it. Without
the soul, it doesn’t really mean anything.” (When Johnson says “pop
music,” he’s differentiating between popular music and classical

Johnson first got into music when his father put him into piano lessons for the manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination.
“I liked it, so I started playing like in second grade, doing recitals. Then church choir and junior high,” he said. “My brother
started taking guitar lessons so I picked up the guitar when guitar
was becoming really cool. I got through high school and had my
first band gig when I was 18, at a bar. I did some other stuff including ‘Cotton Patch Gospel.’ Music’s just always been there.”

Born 1964 in Tyler, by the fifth grade had lived in San Diego, California, somewhere in Montana, somewhere in Arizona,
Tyler again, Noonday, Texas, Nacogdoches, Texas and San Augustine, Texas. For sixth grade, he was back on the farm in Noonday: two parents, four boys, onions, potatoes, corn and beans. “Plant and harvest,” he said. “There was no rock music allowed in my house. Late at night I would listen to Dallas rock stations: KZEW, Z-97, Q102. Tyler radio sucked. I’d go to sleep with that little mono
earplug hidden in my ear. I learned those songs. I couldn’t buy an electric guitar so I used what I had. Mostly a gut string classical that I got for $100. I bought a 12-string for $80 and took the little strings off because I couldn’t tune it. “Daddy took the guitar away one time. I was playing ‘The Joker.’ That whole ‘peaches and trees’ thing didn’t sit too well with the principal of a private Christian high school.”
Eventually, he said, he decided that he wanted to tell his grandchildren”– whenever he would have grandchildren – that he was a songwriter. “So I started writing songs. Mostly bad. Nobody listened. Made a recording. Gave it away. Friends bought it. Kept writing. Still bad. Decided to make another recording.” That second CD was Images, which Johnson released in 1999. Most of the songs made the MP3 top 40 Texas folk/rock list. Johnson won the 2001 B.W. Stevenson songwriter competition at Poor David’s Pub and was
named male vocalist of the year at the 2002 Rockzillaworld awards show.

“When I get to the end,” he said, “it will not be asked if I sold a million records or played a concert for 10,000 or changed the direction of the world. It will only be asked if I did what I was supposed to do.”
Which is to let the Truthwagon Roll.

Tom Geddie
Buddy Magazine
June 2015

“When the depth of your addiction leaves you shackled in a cage and the strength of your conviction is the last thing that you crave,” Jay Johnson
sings on his most recent recording, “then it’s time to
pay the toll, let the truthwagon roll.”
Let the truth wagon roll
Jay Johson is a man of conviction
By Tom Geddie
He won 2001 B - Buddy Magazine

"Jay Johnson - Full of Surprises"

Over time, Jay Johnson always surprises. As a solo, folky singer-songwriter with killer lyrics. On Tuesday nights at a Plano sports bar, The End Zone, as the leader of a jam band that mixes his own songs with both classic and
obscure rock. On the new CD, Royalbluemoon, as a confident Southern rocker with a new wrinkle in his sound. And eventually, on the same CD, because it is Jay Johnson, something eclectic.

Johnson, most familiar to Dallas audiences as a solo artist until a
year or two ago, once said he writes all his songs with a full band in mind. This CD is just as satisfying musically as it is lyrically. "Lost in the City" is an Allmanesque song about a man who says, "mister I
ain't got a dime to put in your cup, I'm just livin' day to day hopin' that
my dreams come true."
"Blues #5" is a funky blues alliteration song that seemingly goes nowhere in the shadows of a so-called civilized world.
"Little Marvin" is about a man whose footsteps make Mother Nature cringe.
"Josephine" is a bouncy little wannabe love song full of morning
On "Rain," Johnson sees a man "standing naked in the pouring rain," and asks him, "Hey old man, you must be insane." And the main replies, "No, no, someone took a piece of my soul, blew me apart and left a big black hole. Let the rain come and fill my cup, wash my face, cover it up, rain coming down upon my head, rain filling me full of dread, rain, fill my soul, rain make me whole."
"Love in the Wasteland" originated, Johnson said, as
suggested pick-up lines for the inexperienced SMU frat boys and sorority girls who used to come to his shows at Chelsea Corner - lines including "when I'm standing cold and alone on the top of the world on the edge of a stone, will you catch me when I lay back my head and I fall" and "is that a candle
that I see in your eyes, or a funeral pyre, and is it true love when it
burns or the flames of an alcohol fire."
Well, you get the idea. Keep listening.
Late on the CD, two of the fine young musicians in town get brief spotlights. Lead guitarist Mark Lafon's short "Gitsumonya" shows off his metal rock chops and bass player Jim Harrington's even shorter "Ether Or" is, well, I don't know what it is. It's too short, at 27 seconds, to develop. Drummer Rich Brazzelli, keyboardist Eddy Anders, harmonica player Art Fischman, and back-up vocalist Rebecca Johnson complete the musical cast.

Tom Geddie - Buddy Magazine, Aug '04

"Beanstock Rocks!"

Beanstock Rocks!
By Kathy Williams, Editor
Published October 19, 2004

TOM BEAN, TX Those who stayed to the end of Beanstock Acoustic Music Festival Oct. 17 were treated to some of the most exciting music performed around North Texas in recent memory. The festival ended its two-day fall run with a performance by Jay Johnson and his band, with Annie Benjamin joining on flute. What followed was a two-hour jam, an ad-lib performance of blues-folk-jazz-rock. Blues fusion, perhaps? The music didn't seem to fit any known genre.

Johnson, reared on a farm in Deep East Texas and educated at a Christian school in Swizerland, writes lyrical poetry that reflects his wide-ranging personal history and interests. Then he sets it to music. And then he invites some friends in to illustrate it with their instruments. Johnson had the audience tapping, clapping and jumping in their seats almost from the first note. Written on his face and in his every movement was great enthusiasm for the music coming from his fellow performers. Then they really started cooking.
Johnson warned the audience to pay attention, they might be the first and only audience to ever hear blues flute. The bass player whispered in Johnson¹s ear, got the go-ahead nod, and walked over to Benjamin to confirm the plan. The music never stopped as the bass and flute began to trade licks. The transparent, created-on-the-fly arrangements held together. The saxophone player joined in, adding a soulful note to the brilliant flute and throaty base. Later, the lead guitarist insinuated some beautiful improvisations, despite having just sliced his
finger open to the bone.

The four fed off each others' energy and creativity, literally jumping up and down with excitement. Eventually, the drummer added structure to the
improvisation and Johnson returned to the microphone to scat a little and build some lyrics. Then Johnson brought the band back to earth and they created some straight-out blues. The audience sat inside the bright green peace sign, created of rye grass rising above the native turf. Although they begged for more, festival founder Dan Magers had to shut down the music. Even in one of the most remote parts of Grayson County, the neighbors still need to rest in peace and quiet on Sunday night.

This was the sixth Beanstock. The festival, which began in 2001, is now held each March and October. Last year, Magers and volunteers added concession stands. This year, they built showers for those who camp out during the festival. Like its big brother, the Kerrville Folk Festival, Beanstock experiences some of its best music during the all-night jams that happen around campfires.

- Herald Democrat

"Veterans Are Worth It"

Not everyone on Amie Street is a new and struggling artist. Take Jay Johnson, a many times over finalist or winner of numerous music awards. With strong roots in the southern rock tradition, having three of his albums RoyalBlueMoon, Deep In The Heart of Texas and Images on Amie Street does nothing less than make it a well rounded and very pleasant place for his music to hang out.

Play one of Jay's songs and you are not only entertained, you are transported. With a blend of both southern rock and blues guitar stylings, he sings original lyrics that are both insightful and entertaining -- sometimes down right humorous. Ranging from quiet songs like Deep In The Heart of Texas to rocking tunes like BluesNumberFive/RoyalBlueMoon, his versatility make him a winner no matter what your mood. If he was not already a favorite of yours before Amie Street, be sure to check him out now.

September 21, 2007

- AmieStreet.com

"One Rung Up The ladder"

One rung up the ladder
Friends advance in 'Nashville Star' competition
By MARIO TARRADELL Staff Critic Published December 26, 2003

Americana singer-songwriter Jay Johnson of Richardson has a date with Nashville Star. The troubadour is one of two Dallas-area musicians advancing to the regional competition for the 2004 season of the USA cable network series. Fellow singer-songwriter Jeramie Crawford is the other. On Jan. 13 at Billy Bob's Texas in Fort Worth, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Crawford, good friends on and off the stage, will perform with contestants from Austin, Houston, Oklahoma City and Little Rock, Ark. Both artists sang during open auditions Nov. 14 at Billy Bob's and were called back to play the following Saturday and Sunday. "I'm grateful," says the 39-year-old Mr. Johnson from his home. "I'm truly grateful that somebody chose me and my songs and the way I played them that day over somebody else and their songs and the way they played them that day. They poured their heart out and I poured my heart out, but they chose me. It's such an honor. It's nice to be chosen. You feel good about yourself." Mr. Crawford, however, is no Nashville Star newcomer. Last year, he also advanced to the regional showdown, which was held in Houston. But he didn't make the cut. "The fact that Jay and I both got in there is a really cool thing," says the 27-year-old Dallas-based alt-country singer-songwriter. "Jay has really mentored me as an artist. It's the story of two friends ending up in the same competition. It's a great thing. Now I can't wait. Jay and I are both performers, and we want to go up and turn some heads when we do this thing. I'm ready for this now. I'm glad I didn't make it last year because I wasn't ready for it then." The winner on Jan. 13 will fly to Nashville to compete with other regional victors for one of 12 slots on the second-season premier. The first episode of Nashville Star's second season airs March 6. Auditioning for the show was a decision Mr. Johnson pondered heavily. "We started looking at what happened last year with Buddy Jewell and some other contestants, and I thought about it. Should I do it being Americana and anti-Nashville and part of this whole scene we have created down here in Texas? But it's all about the songs. If I can move those songs up the ladder a little bit, that's what I'm here to do. I get to play in front of the head of A & R for Sony Records. I'll never get that chance. What more am I supposed to be doing with my songs than that?" Mr. Johnson, who won the 2001 B.W. Stevenson Songwriting Contest at Poor David's Pub, has self-released two CDs, 1999's Images, recorded in his hometown of Tyler, and 2002's Deep in the Heart of Texas, produced by Arlington's Tommy Alverson. He has enough songs ready for a third disc but has not started recording it. He's waiting to see what happens with the Nashville Star competition... - Dallas Morning News

"Johnson Leads Pack at Music Awards"

Johnson leads pack at music awards

By Greg Barr

Published February 18, 2005

CLEAR LAKE — Jay Johnson thought it was pretty cool that respected Texas musician Tommy Alverson agreed to produce his second CD. Being nominated alongside Alverson as Entertainer of the Year at this weekend’s third annual MTM Texas Music Awards has pretty much left Johnson speechless.

“It’s an honor to be selected with that group of people this year,” Johnson said. “To bang around in the music industry this long and get to the point where you can hang out with some of these folks is pretty much where you want your career to be.”

After Sunday’s awards show, perhaps hanging out with Johnson might be more like it, considering Johnson’s band leads the way among this year’s crop of 2005 MTM Texas Music Awards nominees.

The awards are sponsored by mytexasmusic.com, a Web site operated by Lucky and Jinelle Boyd of La Marque that features 430 independent artists.

This year’s show will feature 13 performances followed by another 15 or so at the after-party event.

“We’re just building on what we (did) the previous year,” said Lucky Boyd of mytexasmusic.com. “We’ve added more performances and a few new award categories, and the nominees will make their entrance from limousines on the red carpet. What (is) interesting this year is that 25 percent of our online public votes came from Texas music fans outside Texas.”

Unlike the bigger-name awards shows based on industry votes or fan polls, the MTM Texas Music Awards winners are chosen through a blended vote of musician and industry peers, with online fan voting counting for a percentage of the final tally.

Johnson’s alt-country group scored six nominations. These include Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year (Royalbluemoon — released in September 2004), Song of the Year (Josephine), and two nominations for Musician of the Year (Mark LaFon, lead guitar, and Jim Harrington, bass guitar).

The Richardson-based band will perform at the showcase, as will another of Johnson’s musical idols, Austin singer/songwriter Shake Russell.

The slew of nominations marks a watershed year for Johnson, who also made it to the regional finals in the USA Network’s Nashville Star television series in Fort Worth, and was runner-up in the 2004 Shiner Bock Rising Star competition. All in the year he turned 40.

“I first tried to find my own voice around 1991 with my own songwriting rather than just covering other songs, trying to find something good to say,” Johnson added. “It was pretty rewarding to be able to do it even without any recognition. This mytexasmusic thing has become a pretty big deal for us. We’re looking forward to coming down there to play and meet some new folks.”


WHAT: 2005 MTM Texas Music Awards.

WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Big Texas Dancehall & Saloon, 803 E. NASA Road 1, Clear Lake.

COST: $15.

INFORMATION: Call (409) 935-7877 or go to www.my texasmusic.com. A complete list of 2005 nominees and information about previous years’ awards shows can found on this Web site.

DETAILS: KHOU Channel 11 television personalities Eileen Faxas and Johnathan Walton will host the awards show. Ticket-holders are invited to stay for the awards show after-party. Separate after-party tickets can be purchased for $5.
- Galveston Daily News


IMAGES - ©1999 Jay Johnson All Rights Reserved.
DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS - © 2002 Jay Johnson All Rights Reserved.
ROYALBLUEMOON - © 2004 JayJohnsonMusic.com All Rights Reserved.
TRUTHWAGON - © 2008 JayJohnsonMusic.com All Rights Reserved.

Jay Johnson's songs can be purchased via CD or individual song downloads through any major online distributor...please visit http:///www.JayJohnsonMusic.com for details



PLEASE NOTE: Jay's music has found homes in various genres, from southern rock/blues to singer/songwriter, americana/country to funk...so please peruse the entire catalog - thanks so much!

Jay Johnson is a multi genre, multi award-winning singer/songwriter from Dallas.  This 25-yr veteran performer has self-released 3 albums and 2 singles in the last 10 years (all received statewide, regional and international airplay) while sharing the stage with such talent as Miranda Lambert, Jackson Browne, Pat Green, Willie Nelson, Charlie Robison, Jack Ingram, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Steven Fromholtz, Gary P. Nunn and countless others. Several of Jay's songs have been re-released by fellow artists as well.  Johnson's style of writing is as diverse and all encompassing as the writer himself, and his writing savvy has been compared to James Taylor, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle.  A new studio album is currently in the works, as well as a Live album with the original band members...Stay Tuned!

Jay Johnson is proud to play Seagull速 Guitars and Elixir速 Strings Exclusively, and wishes to thank the following very groovy people who have chosen to help him along this kaleidoscopic journey:

www.godinguitars.com www.elixirstrings.com

2007 SINGER/SONGWRITER OF THE YEAR NOMINEE - Texas Music Awards (TexasMusicAwards.org)

2005 MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR - Texas Music Awards (TexasMusicAwards.org)

2005 - Song contribution to Freedom Bound CD, benefiting Educate Van Zandt (EVZ) which promotes and provides adult education for area residents of Van Zandt County, TX. Featuring Willie Nelson, Mickey Newberry and others.

2004 FINALIST/RUNNER UP - Shiner Bock Rising Star Competition (KHYI.com / Shiner.com)

2004 REGIONAL FINALIST - Sony/USA Network's Nashville Star Television Show

2004 SEMI-FINALIST - Dallas Songwriter's Association Competition (DallasSongwriters.org)

2003 SEMI-FINALIST - Wildflower! Art and Music Festival Songwriter Competition

Texas Music Nation Festival (TexasMusicNation.org)

Beanstock Festival (Beanstock.org)

2002 - Song Contribution to Open Doors Project CD
benefiting The Parkinson Foundation (OpenDoorsCD.org)

2002 MALE VOCALIST OF THE YEAR - Rockzilla Music
Awards (Rockzilla.net)

2001 WINNER - BW Stevenson Songwriter
Competition (PoorDavidsPub.com)

1999 - Song Contribution for A.R.T.S. For People CD


"I loved the guitar. Girls loved the guitar. I loved girls. I had learned to play by watching my brother struggle. I wanted to sing songs so I learned to play songs. Lots of songs. There was no ROCK music allowed in my house. Late at night I would listen to Dallas ROCK stations. KZEW, Z-97, Q102. Tyler radio sucked. I'd go to sleep with that little mono earplug (white) hidden in my ear. I learned those songs. I couldn't buy an ELECTRIC guitar so I used what I had. (David and a sling.) Mostly a gut string classical that I got for $100. I bought a 12 string for $80 and took the little strings off 'cause I couldn't tune it. I played that. Daddy took the guitar away one time. I was playing "The Joker." That whole "peaches and trees" thing didn't sit too well with the principal of a private Christian High School."

Jay Scott Johnson was born in Tyler, Texas and by the fifth grade had lived in California, Montana, Arizona, four podunk Texas towns and was back on the farm in Noonday, Texas for the sixth grade. Noonday life, in Jay's words: "Four boys. Onions, potatoes, corn, beans. Plant and harvest. Mom tried to grow strawberries once." Jay started taking piano lessons at the age of seven and has been performing ever since.

"Seventeen found me on the tarmac in Geneva, Switzerland with too much luggage - Thanks, Mom. L`abri. Francis Scheaffer. Huemoz, Switzerland. You can only find it if you're looking for it. I was looking. I turned 18. I came home with longer hair and a bad habit of using long sentences that no one could follow. Daddy knew that I had been "sinning." That fall Jay booked a private party and made his first fifty dollars. He describes the next few years thusly