Slide guitar master Dennis Johnson & Mississippi Ramblers play Saturday
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Dennis Johnson & the Mississippi Ramblers at Brewery Arts Center Levitt AMP Concert Series with opening act Hick’ry Switch
WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 18, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Minnesota Street Stage 449 W. King St., Carson City
Slide guitar master Dennis Johnson & the Mississippi Ramblers are making their Nevada debut in Carson City this Saturday. The trio brings their fusion of Americana, blues, New Orleans grooves and more to the Levitt AMP Concert Series hosted by the Brewery Arts Center.
Johnson earned the title of slide guitar master through hard work and dedication.
“I play way more guitar than any human being should,” he said. “But it’s just love — it’s something I love.”
He said if it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in something, he passed that milestone years ago. The love for slide guitar came as a teenager, even when most of his friends were more into pop music. Johnson said the type of music that comes with it lasts through generations and he puts his own spin on it to keep things fresh.
“I was always attracted to it, and as a teenager, I started really getting into it,” he said. “I delved into it, but I didn’t really get it until a decade later.”
Playing with the slide is different than traditional guitar. Johnson said the human voice can be very expressive with it, but it also gives off the sound that two guitars are playing simultaneously. With the help of his other band members (Tim Metz on drums and Jonathan Stoyanoff on bass), the three of them sound like a much bigger band.
Johnson said one fan explained it perfectly at a recent concert: “You are a trio, but you sound like 10 pieces,” the fan told him.
He said when Metz plays, it sounds as if there are two drummers. A drummer who could do it all was necessary for the band to play the different styles Johnson wanted. And that style cannot really be classified, he said.
“I am influenced by so much stuff,” he said. “People are going to call me a blues player or a rock player, but we do much more and have musicians who are very versatile.”
Many musicians influenced the band including Robert Johnson, Duke Ellington, Roy Rogers and many more. Johnson said he’d love to play alongside many of the greats if he had the chance.
“There’s so many, I wouldn’t know where to start,” he said about musicians he’d like to play with. “I love different types of music and musicians and when people have passion. That’s what I love.”
Not only does Johnson want to carry on the tradition of his music, but also the tradition of how the musicians he looks up to carry themselves. He said he’d see some artists who were larger than life, but they didn’t act that way and instead were just regular people.
“When I met some of these cats, like Norton Buffalo, I met these guys when I was younger and they were very nice and humble,” he said. “I try to carry on that.”
Johnson also loves the live concert experience, and it feeds into his passion for what he does
“When you look out and you see everyone smiling and dancing and just enjoying the music, that’s what it’s about,” he said. “It’s seeing that look on people’s faces.
Johnson can’t wait for his first show in Nevada. He’s traveled through the state many times, but hasn’t had a show. And ever since he was a kid, his parents told him it was a beautiful place to visit. He said Carson City can expect a really good show.
“They’re going to get an amazing show,” he said. “The band right now is firing on all cylinders. The band is cookin’ right now.”