On a weekend full of events competing for time and dollars, Kraig Jarrett Johnson & The Project’s album release party hits The Turf Club on Friday April 13 and rises to the top of the heap.
Johnson is one of the luminaries of the Twin Cities rock and roll legacy. Universally recognized around the world as a brilliant singer/songwriter, guitarist and musician’s musician, Johnson splashed on the scene as teenager when he along with brothers Kirk and Kyle launched Run Westy Run; an SST band that rode the back end of the same post punk wave that produced Husker Du, The Replacements and Soul Asylum. His involvement and respect within that world made him the nexus for Minnesota’s first “super group” Golden Smog. Members of that band included Jeff Tweedy (Wilco), Gary Louris (The Jayhawks), Chris Mars (The Replacements), Dan Murphy (Soul Asylum) and Jody Stephens (Big Star). The band went on to record two critically acclaimed albums: Down By The Old Mainstream and Weird Tales.
That relationship with Louris led to an extended stint playing guitar with The Jayhawks through a period that gave us both and The Sound Of Lies and Smile. By this time, his chops and reputation within the community gave him the opportunity to tour internationally and work with the likes of Ray Davies of the Kinks and members of R.E.M.
The new release marks the first time that the name Kraig Jarrett Johnson’s name has been front and center. The Project began when he and songwriter/producer par excellence David Poe took themselves off to a cabin in the Joshua Tree desert to see what kind of inspiration they could find. The two recorded tracks into a cassette player using a couple guitars, a tiny keyboard and a vocal mic duct taped to a vacuum cleaner handle. The initial results yielded sounds steeped in down to earth psychedelia and vocal immediacy. The tracks came back to Flowers Studio where collaboration with owner Ed Ackerson (BNLX, Polara), Jim Pohlquist (Son Volt), Peter Anderson (The Ocean Blue) and some additional vocal tracks from Gary Louris began in earnest. Ackerson was careful to retain much of the rough-hewn, unfinished immediacy of the original recordings while adding his own signature lead riffs, replete with feedback, fuzz and understated distortion. The result was a record that drifts through a range of styles without ever coming close to losing its rock and roll soul. This is an album that deserves to be heard.
Friday’s band is slated to feature the members of The Project plus “anybody else who might show up to play”. Given the network of friends of not only Johnson but his band mates, there may be some surprises before the night is done. It promises to be a night with a band that is very motivated to play. Expect a Who’s Who from the local music scene in the audience. Expect a tremendous amount of fun on stage as well as front of house.
Opening for Kraig Jarret Johnson & The Project is the next in line of young bands making serious waves in the Minnesota rock and roll world, The Shackletons. Like early Run Westy Run The Shackletons are built around three brothers who grew up listening to all the bands that swirled around guys like Kraig Johnson. The band has released two EP’s, The Horizon Lines and Second Attempt under the guiding hand of Ed Ackerson and is performing on the heels of their own sold out release show. The Shackletons are currently listed in a number of Best Of rock categories by First Avenue, City Pages and The Current.
Tickets are available HERE
This will be a night of Minnesota Music, past, present and future. See you at the rock show!