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Boston's own Johnny, Johnny A

Guitarist and song writer Johnny A is a fixture in the Boston rock and pop scene. He let's his guitar do the talking and creates instrumental music which is delivered like a vocalist.

Johnny A
All photos provided by the artist.
At the WBCN event at House of Blues 2013
PHOTO: Amy Nachbar

For most of his three decade career he's been the band leader. Now on this new venture, his fourth album entitled, "Driven," he's opted to work alone. That meant playing all the album’s instruments himself, but it also meant producing and engineering the songs, which he recorded in a studio that he invested plenty of blood, sweat and tears in building.

Gibson Guitars took notice of Johnny A and approached him to collaborate on a custom guitar which became the second best selling signature model in the company’s illustrious line of instruments.

In 1999 he launched his solo career and independently released his debut CD "Sometime Tuesday Morning" which sold over 90,000 copies and spawned a number #1 single entitled, "Oh Yeah." The album was re-released in 2001 on Steve Vai's Favored Nations Entertainment label. It marked the first time in over a decade that an instrumental album had achieved the top spot on the radio. The album was then picked up for distribution by Danny Goldberg at Artemus Records. In 2004, "Get Inside" was released on the Favored Nations Label, yielding two radio singles, "I Had To Laugh," and a radio edit of the title track "Get Inside." In 2006 Warner Brothers/Alfred Publishing released a Johnny A. instructional DVD entitled "Taste, Tone, Space." Johnny A's recent release in 2010 on Aglaophone Records is One November Night, a live DVD/CD set recorded at Sculler's Jazz Club in his hometown of Boston. Johnny A. is the recipient of The Boston Music Award's Blues Artist of the Year 2010.

Examiner spoke with Johnny about his new CD and his memorable career thus far.

Examiner: Although your songs have no words, it is all instrumental, when you write a song, you must think of the words you want said in your song?

Johnny A: "Sometimes yes, there is a reference to words when imaging the melody. For me it's a way to shape my songs and give them, although instrumental, a vocal quality."

Examiner: Tell us about some of the musicians that you've shared the stage with over the years?

Johnny A: "I've been very fortunate share the stage with some incredible musicians. Jeff Beck, BB King, Jimmie Vaughan, JJ Cale, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Robert Cray, Joe Bonamassa....It's quite a long list actually."

Examiner: How did Gibson Guitars first approach you about designing a custom signature guitar?

Johnny A: "I had been endorsed by Gibson since 1994. When my first solo instrumental release, Sometime Tuesday Morning, started to gain attention I was approached by Gibson Custom to collaborate on a signature model. This year we are celebrating the 10th year anniversary of the guitar's release. The guitar has become on of the companies best selling signature models."

Examiner: You've been compared to Jimi Hendrix, Carlos Santana, Jeff Beck and Les Paul, how do you feel about that?

Johnny A: "Don't know what to say about that, it actually makes me a little bit uncomfortable. I am a huge fan of all of those aforementioned artists. I guess I am humbled if some people put me in that grouping."

Examiner: Biggest moment in your career thus far?

Johnny A: "There are several. But just to name a few...Putting out my first solo album, being honored by Gibson with a signature guitar that we designed, getting to jam with Jeff Beck, being asked to perform at Eric Clapton's Crossroad's Festival."

Examiner: Upcoming dates?

Johnny A: "On June 11, 2014, we will be celebrating the release of my new album "Driven" at Sculler's, 400 Soldiers Field Road, Boston."

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