Summer closes…

 

This summer has been full of great musical memories. Below are a few photos from a few highlights over the last couple months.

Virginia Beach, VA

I am not much of a fan of busy beaches however I did get a chance to catch a beautiful sunrise, dolphins (on my last day there), and of course take in some good music. 

Virginia Beach sunrise view from my hotel.

 

Poseidon at dusk. Virginia Beach

Moravian Falls, NC

What an enchanting place. I had planned on making a separate post for my time with Suzy and Kamran Yarai this past August however here are a few photos from my time there. I had the beautiful privilege of reuniting once again with the “East meets West” team to record a few songs for the television program that is broadcasted in Iran. Suzy and Kamran (and team) took such wonderful care of us that week. They exemplified  the way to make musicians feel comfortable for a week of recording and making music. We stayed at a beautiful lodge with breathtaking views and were treated to homemade lunch and dinner (amazing Persian food!) every day. What a beautiful time of fellowship, music making, and worship. 

 

Part of the view from the lodge. This was just a short distance from where we were recording.

 

Mohammed preparing breakfast. Mohammed is one of the musicians in the band (a couple of the songs we were performing are his original songs. Mohammed was born and raised in Iran and currently based out of Dallas, Texas) and volunteered himself to wake up early every morning to fix breakfast. This dude is a real gem.

 

Patio view at the lodge.

 

Talking with Don Potter. What an incredible musician and encouraging soul. Don is a legend in the music world with decades of experience and wisdom. His fingers truly tell a story when he is playing and he speaks with a gentle yet confident tone.

 

At the recording space… Suzy and Kamran’s home! What an honor.

 

Round table (or round floor) discussion; preparing for the band interviews.

 

Looking at Stephen Roach’s corner.

 

Maestro Luke Skaggs and the Afghanistan rebab. Luke… incredible musician.

 

My corner.

 

Another view… and Cassie Campbell taking a sip of some go juice (coffee y’all).

 

The dinner table at the lodge. There is a song by Jason Upton called “Every table is an altar.” When I hear that song I am transfixed by the Holy Spirit and images/memories of times sitting or standing around a table with friends and family. This table… this table was alive that week. It was surrounded with laughs, tears, prayers, prophecies, silence, songs, great food (of course haha), dancing, and most of all… love. I was a bit overwhelmed with what this week had done for me. I was not expecting it. I was starting to get burned out. Surely I was looking forward to the time with these great people, but honestly I did not expect to have my heart that filled.That week gave me a better understanding of why Jesus broke the bread, and why it is written about the disciples going from house to house and “breaking bread.” A lot of beautiful “bread breaking” or fellowship happened at this table. In my opinion this table was a central piece of that week. The attention to detail and the love that went into it was breathtaking.

 

Michael Pritcher’s place. Great setup and excellently played/executed.

 

Ngoni and a custom drum I made… setting some ambiance.

 

Percussion

 

Another beautiful view. Ahhh.

Below is a link to a small video clip ( taken from my iPhone) of me playing with the team.      

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New Instructional Videos

 

On my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/john5699 I have uploaded several new instructional videos.

 

61st FYC Grammy Submissions

This Grammy season (61st) I have a few submissions. If you are a Grammy voting member or know one it would be my honor for you to listen and consider the music. 

Best Gospel Album: Morris Mingo “The Time of the Minstrel”

 

Best Folk Album: Eryn Jones Fuson “Trail of White”

 

Best R&B song: Desmond Myers, “VHS (Best Life Today)”

 

Best Childrens Music Album: Mister G “Fireflies”

 

A summer full of worship

 

This photo was taken by Katie Lyon at Grace Church in Southern Pines. The last couple months I have been blessed to help lead worship at several different churches in the region.

 

Recording with my friend Mister G.

I know I added this photo previously but here it is again. Mister G is a Latin Grammy winning Childrens music artist. Both he and his wife are also some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Such big hearts.

Here are a couple clips of the session via my Instagram feed.

New Music on the Way

This fall/winter I will be releasing my fourth album! Here is a clip of me working on some ideas for a new song. 

Art Show

last week I participated in an art show exhibiting some of my work and playing a little music with my friend Zach Pessagno.

 

I recently started working with a local high school (Pinecrest Highschool) marching band. I am helping to instruct the Pitt crew. I have already grown attached to them. Marching band is something new to me, however like most things I do, I have thrown myself into it and enjoying the challenge.

 

Yup, lots of great stuff this summer. It has been full of beautiful moments.

William

The latest

It is a beautiful Monday morning here in central North Carolina as I sit at my desk writing this blog post. Currently the sun is shining brilliantly outside and the spring blossom of flowers outside my studio window is as welcoming as it gets. I have had the blessed privilege of participating in some really nice events over the last several weeks and just wanted to post an update  since there is more soon to come! In the photo above I am accompanying the Sandhills Classical Christian School choir for their Spring concert. I truly enjoy working with young people. I continue to have the opportunity to volunteer and work with students  of all ages and it is highly rewarding for me to say the least. I consider it a calling. One of the greatest rewards for me is when I become a part of another family’s life by sharing in their special moments. In these times I get the precious opportunity to become a part of their life as a fond memory and for the student, hopefully a landmark of some sort that promotes/evokes passion, continued pursuit of education, creative freedom in expression, etc. Some even go on to be inspired to play an instrument and that is truly humbling to me. The following day after this event I participated in an after school program anniversary fundraiser dinner and accompanied a young man who is an aspiring musician himself. What a joy and a blessing for me to have these opportunities. I feel blessed that they come often. Sometimes I have to pause to recognize the significance of the moment. My life is busy with being a full time musician, a husband, and father. It is quite easy for me to look at it as just another event. Each event however, is intimately attached to people, and therefore more important than often possible to recognize. I try not to take it for granted and stay spiritually and emotionally engaged (present). 

A couple weeks ago I also played at the Pinehurst Resort Country Club in the ballroom. What a beautiful evening of music making and socializing. I put together a trio of world percussion, harp, and violin. It was an amazing time. There were several technical difficulties concerning my PA system but we managed to make our way through it and received positive feedback and more importantly created new beautiful memories. The music was described by some as an entertaining relaxing warm hug. I can’t complain with that!

This past weekend I ministered on percussion at Christ Community Church here in the Pinehurst area. I am blessed to minister at CCC on occasion throughout the year. Outside of where I regularly worship and serve, Christ Community has become like a second ministry home. Of course I mean this in no disrespect to the other amazing and beautiful ministries that I also serve at. I mainly speak in terms of frequency, locality, and the many new friends made over the last couple of years. I truly love it there and always feel welcomed. I was at CCC this past Easter and it was nice to return again this past weekend. I decided to use a slightly different setup than I normally do. I even switched roles as I was playing with a percussionist. I am usually the one on auxiliary percussion or additional percussion (not the drum set role). This time I was filling the “drum set” roll. It was a beautiful weekend. I pray I never get over looking out over a congregation and seeing people sing, raise their hands, dance, cry, laugh with full joy, etc. There are moments as I am playing that I barely feel the work of my own limbs making music and I am just praising God and witnessing the moment as through a window. It is a gift that I do not feel worthy of. 

For the rest of May I will be focusing on practicing, my YouTube channel and preparing for a ministry event with Suzy and Kamran Yaraei on June 9th, 2018 in Winston Salem, NC. It is a concert/fundraiser event. I will be on percussion with my friends Stephen Roach, Luke Skaggs, and Michael Pritchard from the Songs of Water Band. Below is a link to the event. This will be an amazing time. If you are able to attend I highly recommend it!

http://www.suzyyaraei.com/itinerary/

 

Here is a link to my latest YouTube video. It is part of my Three Minute Studio Session Series. It features Eryn Jones Fuson on harp, Crystal Scott on background vocals, and David Johnson on strings. The song “Dancing Trees” was mixed by Neil Brown and mastered by GAT3 studio in Charlotte, NC. 

Drum and World Percussion Clinic

Drum & World Percussion Clinic with Dale Baker and William Johnson

Hello everyone! I am very excited about this upcoming drum clinic with my friend Dale Baker (Six Pence None the Richer, and many other notable producers, artists, and bands). The clinic is free, however there is an optional registration which includes educational resources, promotional material, and one free online lesson. To register online click the following “Add to Cart button. You may also register on the day of the clinic. 



 
Schedule:
  • 10:30am-11:15am – Children’s session: Basic understanding of rhythm and percussion.                                                                             Simplified music explanations and engaging rhythmic games.
  • 11:30am-11:55am – Basic Drumming Foundations: Foundational technique and methods for sticks, foot pedal, hihat, cymbals, etc. with Dale Baker
  • 12:00pm-12:15pm – Lunch
  • 12:20pm-12:45       – Drum History: Seminar history
  • 12:55pm-1:20pm   – Singer Songwriter, hybrid setups & music business by Dale Baker featuring artist, singer-songwriter Claybrook
  • 1:25pm- 1:50pm     – Cajon & world percussion with both William Johnson & Dale Baker
  • 1:55pm-2:10pm     – improvisation
  • 2:15pm-2:40pm     – Recording drums in the studio with recording engineer and studio owner Eric Myers
  • 2:45pm-3:15pm     – drums in the Live performance with sound engineer and author (Sound in the Gospel) Dave Wright.
  • 3:15pm-3:30pm     – Performance jam by clinicians.

Presenters:

Dale Baker. Drummer on top billboard charted hits such as Six Pence None the Richer’s Kiss Me and There She Goes. Dale is an accomplished session drummer, producer and recording artist that has worked with iconic producers and musicians throughout the country. 

Eric Myers. An accomplished recording and live sound engineer with over two decades of experience in studios across the country. Eric has an impressive resume and curates a growing library of tools and tricks of the trade.  

Dave Wright. Sound and recording engineer and author of the audio engineering resource book for houses of worship Sound in the Gospel. Dave is often called a magician when he is behind the mixing board due to his unique ability to cr 

More information on the clinic will be added in this post soon!

Indie Harp Concert December 15

Trail of White album by indie harpist Eryn Jones Fuson

This Friday evening December 15th I will be accompanying indie harpist Eryn Jones Fuson during her CD release concert. Over the last several months Eryn has been visiting my studio to record her second album (first with original songs) Trail of White. Eryn’s album is an intimately  crafted compilation of delicate songs that showcase a raw form of musical vulnerability. From the loving affirmation of Someone’s Love, to the unashamedly candid expression of desire for marital bliss in Trail of White, Eryn holds no bashfulness in her presentation of songs each with their own unique genius touch of intentional individuality. The lyrics are honest and the instrumentation is given space to breathe plenty of personality. During the recording process Eryn’s parents traveled from Tennessee to my studio in central North Carolina to record vocals for the song West Winds. Eryn’s father wrote West Winds over thirty years ago and used to sing it to his daughters when they were children. The song speaks of grace and gratitude through the hardness of suffering as the songwriter discovers there are many others who have it much worse. What a joy it was to be a part of the experience of this family’s special moment. I felt tremendously blessed to witness it. These are the stories you often hear at dinner tables and I was grateful to be a part of yet another uniquely beautiful one. 

There are eight songs total on the album; all originals with the exception of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. There is also one instrumental track included. Eryn played all the instruments on the album including harmonica, acoustic guitar, cello, hammered dulcimer, keyboard, and harp. I played all the percussion including some vintage drums/percussion from the 1930s and 1950s. All the instruments and vocals with the exception of a couple piano, cello, and background vocals were tracked in my studio, mixed at Sonicboost Studio by Eric Myers (Raleigh, NC http://www.sonicbooststudio.com) and mastered at GAT3 Studio in Charlotte, NC by Wade Stearns. http://www.gat3productions.com/Home.html

Mastering Trail of White at GAT3 Studio in Charlotte, NC

Eric Myers- Head Recording & Mixing Engineer at Sonicboost Studio in Raleigh, NC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been a joy to help produce Eryn’s latest project Trail of White. If you are in the area it would be an honor to have you join us as we play the songs from the album live at Christ Community Church in Pinehurst, NC this Friday December 15th at 7pm. 

 
220 Campground Rd, West End, North Carolina 27376

 

A year steady coming and going…

The Autumn season has come and winter is upon us. It has been a busy year for me as I have spent it writing and defending my masters thesis. I am excited to announce that I have successfully passed my thesis defense this past summer and finished the ethnomusicology graduate program at Liberty University. That being said, while my music pursuits focused upon my research writing, I was able to participate in several exciting recording projects, live performances, volunteer in school events, and serve on a few different worship teams. Below are a few highlights from the end of spring/beginning of summer including a video I participated in at the end of last year. I am not sure if I published a blog about it so I will do so here. Later this month I plan to publish a post about a few performances I participated in this Fall/Winter.  

Last December Vahagn Stepanyan released a video song production titled “So Good” on Youtube. I tracked percussion on this song and it can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9SPzwiJFhI

So Good features Vahagn Stepanyan (Armenia) on keyboards, Eric Moore on drums, Melvin Lee Davis on bass, Feodor Dosumov (Russia) on guitar, and myself on percussion. It was mixed by Alen Konakoglu at The Kulube Istanbul, Turkey and mastered by Randy Merrill at Sterling Sound, NYC. The amount of talent on this production is astounding. From the incredible musicians to the premier video production, So Good indeed lives up to it’s namesake. Each one of the musicians on this track have amassed a hugely impressive resume performing and recording for artists such as Chaka Kan, Adele, Suicidal Tendencies, Sly & the family Stone, Don Moen and more. The cool thing about this video is all the audio parts were video recorded as the session was happening and mixed later, hence what you are seeing from each individual musician is the actual parts that were recorded giving a “live” feel. Vahagn Stepanyan has recently released another video titled Without Limits featuring some incredible musicians including one of my favorite percussionists Richie Gajate Garcia. Check it out!

With Stephen Lee Price in Winston Salem, NC.

In May I had the opportunity to glean some recording advice from the incredibly talented Stephen Lee Price. Stephen is an amazing recording engineer who has recently opened up a new recording space that is absolutely stunning. Stephen has been involved in several great projects including John Mark Mcmillan’s Live at the Knight album, Chad Lawson’s Chopin Variations, Aradhna Live in Concert, and many more. He has also contributed his engineering talent to the new Lore series airing on Amazon. My visit with Stephen was exciting for me since I was looking forward to meeting one of the integral pieces to so many beautiful projects I have been a fan of over the years. Stephen Lee Price has a way of helping instruments and vocals sound so big yet intimate. I particularly love his work on percussion and strings. Listen to the Songs of Water selections on his website (in the discography section) and you will hear precisely what I mean. Interactions such as those like my time with Stephen Lee Price is what my life has been about more and more these days. I have found over the years that technical know how, trade secrets, and networking are all important to the development of a professional in any industry, however for me just as important is getting to know the person and hence the personality behind genius. Listening, and genuine conversation through honest curiosity of discovering someone else’s story often reveals answers to questions you didn’t know to ask. I am not sure how much technical specifics I learned with my consultation with Stephen, however I sure did learn a ton about making a solid recording. For me the learning adventure never ends. Thanks Stephen!

 

Performing with Dan Rush & 7North at the Pinehurst Resort Country Club Pool in Pinehurst, NC.

Moving into this past summer; the photo above captures me playing a hybrid drum kit (yes that is a vintage suitcase I am playing as the kick drum. I currently have about a dozen of them I will be repurposing as kick/bass drums for sale) with Dan Rush and 7North. 7North is a band I play percussion for. Dan Rush fronts this incredible and energetic band based out of Pinehurst, NC. In the photo above we were performing at the Pinehurst Resort Country Club Pool cabana. It was a lively two hour set full of blues rock and pop. I look forward to playing with Dan Rush and 7North again soon! Local events (in the town I live in) have been rare for me over the last couple years however I am looking forward to hopefully changing that. If you are looking for an energy filled, family friendly live blues rock, country, and pop band with positive energy then Dan Rush & 7North is your band! 

Recording with harpist Eryn Jones Fuson.

This summer I have been working with Eryn Jones Fuson on her upcoming indie folk album in my studio here in North Carolina. There have been some beautiful and amazing moments that I have been privileged to experience. On one particular song, Eryn’s parents traveled from Tennessee in order for her father to track vocals on a song that he wrote many years ago that will be included on the album. What an honor to be a part of such a beautiful and landmark moment for this family and all who will be blessed by the song. Eryn’s project Trail of White will be released this December. I will post more about it in an upcoming blog. In the meantime you can learn more about Eryn at her website www.erynjones.com

The Ethnos Project is a compilation of worship songs in different languages from around the world including different music styles influenced by their cultural and geographical locations. I had the privilege of tracking percussion on several of the songs for the third volume. I truly enjoyed being a part of the second volume a couple years ago and this time around was no different. All of the songs are beautifully arranged and produced by executive producer Eric Lige (out of San Diego, California). Of course, a project worthy of any substantial accolade does not exist without the efforts of a support system and those adding their efforts/skills. The Ethnos Project has just that; an effective and amazing team. Actually it is more fitting to say that the Ethnos Project (Volumes) is a team. In fact, although I mentioned Eric Lige, he himself refers to “we” when speaking of the Ethnos Project. Anytime I can be a part of a project that employs a team of like minded worshippers, and talented musicians with individual sensibilities all from diverse backgrounds is a bonus in my book. All of this being said The Ethnos Project Volume 3 was additionally produced by music director Vahagn Stepanyan (Armenia 🇦🇲  ), Andy De Los Santos (USA 🇺🇸 ), and mixed by Alen Konakoglu (Turkey 🇹🇷 ). The Ethnos Project Volume 3 is truly an international project including artists and songs from five continents. The album will be released this January and available for can be preorder for the next week or so at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-ethnos-project-volume-3-music-diversity#/  

I will write more about the Ethnos Project in detail in an upcoming blog. 

Morris Mingo is an accomplished musician out of Cincinnati, Ohio that has toured with award winning artists and recorded on Grammy nominated albums. A few months back Morris reached out to me about recording congas and various other percussion on a couple songs for his Gospel project The Time of the Minstrel. Morris’s album includes some of the finest musicians in the Gospel arena and beyond. Such artists include Gospel recording artist Darwin Hobbs, Drummer and producer Aaron Spears (Usher, Israel Houghton and many more), and many more. The list is quite extensive and overall the album is a beautiful compilation of purposeful songs. I will also write more about Morris Mingo’s album in an upcoming album very soon.

It has been a full year. I am overwhelmingly blessed and excited for more beautiful things to come; not just events or accolades but the journey of life and the relationships that I am honored to be a part of.

William

 

 

Easter Weekend & New Projects

Hello all! I am excited about new projects coming up that I have been working on! On the academic route I am still plugging away at my thesis and will be finished with my ethnomusicology M.A. this summer! I am hoping and believing this will be the year that all of the plans for a drum and percussion academy in Downtown Southern Pines will be completed and I will be able to move forward in seeing this longtime dream manifest. I am still giving lessons online via Skype and also Whatsapp. Email me at williamjohnsonmusic@gmail.com for more information about music and percussion lessons. Whether you are desiring to learn more about percussion, or even taking some lessons on improvisation and building your musical theory ability, I am happy and available to assist you on your musical journey.

I have released a new song a few months back titled Your Presence and it is available here on itunes or on the following links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Your-Presence-William-Johnson/dp/B01MY5KNZ1

CD Baby: https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/williamjohnson5

This May I will be launching a new Youtube video performance series I am titling “Three Minute Studio Sessions.” These sessions will be filmed and recorded mainly from my personal recording studio featuring various artists performing with me live including additional overdubs. The first episode is of a song called Dancing Trees and features harpist Eryn Jones-Fuson. Dancing Trees is a indie fusion song with a cinematic approach. I look forward to sharing it!

Until then my friends here is a small video clip captured from my iphone of a praise and worship song (Bless the Lord by Jermaine Rodriguez) I played percussion on at Christ Community Church in Pinehurst, NC. It was a beautiful time of worship unto the Lord!

 

If you are wanting to know more about this amazing song you can find it here!

Updates

Hello friends!
I have been quite busy lately with music and life in general. My new CD “Sacred Roots” (Raices Sagrado) will be released August 12th!
Sacred Roots
You can also watch a music video of the song “Como el Viento” from the album.

Also I still give percussion (congas, cajon, djembe, etc.) lessons online. Below is a recent video teaching series for learning the cajon in a contemporary setting. So if you would like to learn the congas, cajon, and more contact me at williamjohnsonmusic@gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from you!

William

Learn percussion online


Hello everyone! Many of you may already know that I also teach percussion online via Skype. I wanted to upload a video to give you an example of what a lesson with me may look and sound like. Of course, however, it all depends upon our connection speed but give me a shout and let’s learn together! I teach hand percussion, timbales, basic music theory, ambient percussion (using different types of shakers, chimes, rattlers, etc. to add texture and color to the music), and more. If you have always wanted to learn how to play the cajon, congas, or how to apply world percussion in your ensemble, band, or worship team contact me and I will be in touch with you asap! It has been a blessing to be of assistance to so many from as far as California, Australia, the UK, and more! I look forward to hearing from you!

William

New Instructional DVD

Sorry guys we have been about a week behind on the Volume instructional DVD.

Learn Percussion Volume 1; Congas Instructional DVD Pre-order today for only 15.00 including shipping! Item ships Friday Sept 28,2012





New Instructional DVD

New Instructional DVD series! Today I will be posting a link to purchase the first in a series of instructional DVDs on how to play world percussion instruments. The link to purchase will go up around 7:30p.m. (look under products page). This first DVD will be on playing the congas. Some of the things taught in the DVD are;

– basic exercises to develop good tone

– basic to intermediate rudiments

– mano secreta

– Tumbao, guaguanco, bomba (xica), pop patterns

The DVD should be a great addition to your library and is only $12.00!