First/Last ‘The Essentials’-Will Johnson

March 18, 2011

I strongly believe that there are certain stages in a music fan’s evolution. Definitive bands or musicians that act as benchmarks in a music lovers growth. To put it simply, think of the albums or shows that ‘changed your life’. I am attempting to chronicle my milestones by offering up a series of First/Lasts featuring musicians that have done that for me. I am dubbing them ‘The Essentials’ and I begin today with Will Johnson.

In 2004 I stumbled upon the website for Misra Records. I streamed two songs they had available that exposed and introduced an incredible path of musical awareness for me that continues to this day. The first song was “A Damn Good Disguise” by The Mendoza Line. My affection for that band is no secret to those who know me and my history with the songs author, Timothy Bracy, is for another post.

The other song was “Just To Know What You’ve Been Dreaming” by Will, included on his second solo album, the amazing ‘Vultures Await‘. I was obsessed with the tune and it didn’t take long for me to track down info on his two bands, Centro-matic and South San Gabriel. Thanks to an online buddy who graciously sent me a healthy mix, it didn’t take long for me to agree with the statement, “Centro-matic is better than your favorite band!” My woefully limited interaction with Will and his music can be viewed here. It thrills me that he was kind enough to participate in this inaugural edition of ‘First/Last Essentials’.

  • The first album you ever bought?
  • AC/DC – “Back In Black”.
  • Your last album bought?
  • Carl Broemel – “All Birds Say”.
  • Favorite album of all time?
  • The Beatles – “Revolver”.
  • Least favorite/most disappointing album?
  • Seems like even the most offensive albums I’ve heard have some merit, some shade or corner of humanity that’s worth considering. Even if inadvertently.
  • First concert attended?
  • John Denver. Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, TN. 1974.
  • Last concert?
  • Daniel Higgs – Heliogabal/Barcelona.
  • Favorite concert(s) ever?
  • The Replacements – Liberty Lunch, Austin, TX. 1987. Flaming Lips – The Tiger’s Den (a gutted Dairy Queen) in Noble, OK. November 1991. The Dirty Three – Orbit Room (front room), Dallas, TX 1997 Guided By Voices – Oklahoma City, Spring 1996
  • My Morning Jacket – Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, Denton, TX. 2002 Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Pukkelpop Festival 2005. Nirvana – Cannibal Club, Austin, TX 1990. Neil Young at Bridge School Benefit – Oct. 2009.
  • Least favorite concert?
  • Probably Van Hagar – Austin, TX. Fall 1986.
  • Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
  • It’s built into its geography and natural beauty as well as any city I’ve been to. One of the most underrated cities I know of, and one of my favorites in the country.
  • Thanks so much Will. It’s been way too long since you’ve been to Pittsburgh and I know I am not alone in wishing that you return soon.