Self Produced – 2014
Ten Tracks with a total running time of 34:55
The credits for Slide Avenue are as follows Dennis Johnson: guitar and vocals on all tracks, Tim Metz: drums on tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, David O’Keefe: bass on tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, Joe Craven: violin tracks 4, 10, Sam Levine: saxophones tracks 1, Kirt Shearer: piano on track 5, Wurlitzer organ on track 6, piano on track 7, bass and b-3 organ on track 8, and Caitlin O’Leary background vocals on track 6. The CD was produced by Dennis Johnson and Sam Levine, recorded at Eastern Avenue Studios and Paradise Studios in Sacramento, CA, mixed and mastered by Kirt Shearer at Paradise Studios and printed, pressed and packaged by Oasis Disc Manufacturing. (www.oasisCD.com) Slide Avenue has seven original tunes and three covers (tracks 2, 3, & 9) which were written by Robert Johnson.
Track 1, “Swingin’ at the Savoy” is a jump blues ditty with some tight guitar and saxophone. Johnson’s voice is capable and smooth throughout the recording. Unlike some other songs here Johnson uses a four piece band for a full sound. Four tracks (numbers 3, 6, 9, 10) have no rhythm section (drums and bass) most notably on the Robert Johnson covers. However, this stripped down sound works quite well on the last track, “She Looks Good”, which has a country blues feel to it while melding Joe Craven’s tight violin work with Johnson’s masterful guitar licks it makes some toe tapping almost necessary. The song describes his lady’s looks, particularly what she is wearing (short skirt, low-cut blouse) and “She looks good from the front … but better from the back.”
On Johnson’s web site bio he cites Robert Johnson, Norton Buffalo, and Roy Rogers as major influences of his music. Johnson credits Roy Rogers, “… seeing Roy play for the first time really blew me away. A huge influence on my music.” This reviewer is not familiar with the Roy Rogers songbook so we will have to take his word for it. Dennis Johnson is from the San Francisco area and it would appear that if one would like to see him live you would need to catch him and his band “The Mississippi Ramblers” on one of the many places they are playing on the Left Coast. All the info is on his web site.