Get this crazy baby off my head!


Johnny A.

Johnny A. - Get Inside - 2004 - Favored Nations

It's been a while since we have seen an accomplished blues guitarist like Johnny A. Now, don't go expecting something like Stevie Ray Vaughan or Joe Satriani here. Johnny A could almost be considered AOR blues. And don't let that scare you away either because this musician deserves to be heard. Get Inside is a well put-together piece of work. It is blues, primarily but it is super accessible. Your mom will probably even like this stuff. All of the tracks on Get Inside were written by Johnny A except for "Poor Side Of Town", a smoking rendition of the Johnny River track, and "The Wind Cries Mary" of Jimi Hendrix origin. What guitar album would be complete without a Hendrix track? Johnny is fairly new in the solo artist field. He has released his debut, Sometime Tuesday Morning, to adoring fans and Get Inside is his long-awaited follow-up. It's a smoking album showcasing some very fine guitar playing. Johnny knows that it isn't how fast you play but the transition from note to note as well as the space between. This is an album that guitarists will totally enjoy, others should appreciate it too. There is a reason Steve Vai chose him to release an album on his label. © 1999 - 2009 Music Emissions

A master of guitar styles, including rock-n-roll, blues, and jazz. Johnny A. plays the most complex chord progressions with ease. He is sometimes reminiscent of the master guitarist Jan Akkerman in the seemingly effortless way that he uses the fretboard. The album is in itself a lesson in guitar playing and techniques, and a book with chord tabs, lyrics etc is/was available from http://www.encoremusic.com/guitar/1302446.html Buy Johnny A's "Sometime Tuesday Morning" album for more great guitar instrumentals


1. Hip Bone
2. I Had To Laugh
3. Poor Side of Town
4. Sing Singin'
5. Get Inside
6. Bundle Of Joy
7. Krea Gata
8. The Wind Cries Mary
9. Ignorance Is Bliss
10. Sway A Little
11. Stimulation
12. Another Life

All songs composed by Johnny A. , except "Poor Side Of Town", by Lou Adler, & Johnny Rivers, and "The Wind Cries Mary", by Jimi Hendrix


Johnny A. (guitar, percussion)
Rick O'Neal (bass)
Ken Clark (Hammond B-3 organ)
Ron Stewart (drums, percussion)
Henley Douglas Jr. (saxophone)
Garret Savluk (trumpet)
Rick Scoutas, Dan Tarlow (additional hand jive)


Get Inside is guitarist Johnny A.'s second solo effort, appearing after nearly four years of touring and performing in support of the promising, effortlessly professional, 2001 effort Sometime Tuesday Morning. Inside is an album of tasteful instrumentals, tinged with the various styles A. has absorbed as a veteran sideman. Bold opener "Hip Bone" features Latin-flecked percussion, and A.'s impossibly clean tone; rich in atmosphere and detail, it could be an instrumental take on Los Lobos. It's just an appetizer — the guitarist handled his own production, and throughout Get Inside he proves to be as smooth behind the mixing board as he is on the fret board. A.'s reverb-drenched licks on the bluesy Johnny Rivers' gem "Poor Side of Town" just completely melt out of the speakers, while his drier tones on the title track expertly control the grit meter. "Bundle of Joy" is exactly what you'd expect, and "Ignorance Is Bliss" backs up that bouncy sentiment with Little Feat-inspired playing and a driving rhythm. It's hard to pick the best track here, but there are a couple of strong candidates at its center. The seemingly mild-mannered "Krea Gata" goes absolutely ballistic in its midsection, A.'s guitar shrieking madly as his blues solo utterly loses its mind, and "Wind Cries Mary" becomes a jaunty trip through pauses filled with splotches of sunlight. Garret Savluk's jazzy trumpet solo is a great touch. The palpable energy in these tracks makes the album's dreary cover art an odd choice. Don't let Johnny A.'s sourpuss cover shot fool you — despite its well-placed moments of introspection or melancholy, Get Inside is a comforting place to be. © Johnny Loftus, allmusic.com

Carter Allan writes about Johnny A.'s new CD for 2004, "Get Inside", "Johnny A. once again lets the guitar lead the way on a dozen instrumentals that span a gulf of style from cool a go-go to finger-lickin' guitar pickin' to laying pure rock n' roll rubber. This is music for an open mind aching for the open road. "I Had to Laugh" has a breezy swing to it tempered by urban jazz - like a bunch of Manhattan beatniks lost in a Cadillac on a rural lane. A horn section perks up the chorus, stepping hard on the accelerator to lift this baby right off the highway. "Krea Gata" rises mysteriously like Mingus wandering his dark streets. Guitar tones pick out hushed territories until the piece builds into something stormy and defiant with its raging solo. The title track works off a stately mid-tempo groove surrounding a throaty story-telling guitar. Hammond organ swells about the Gibson's discourse and horns exert their Memphis groove at the end, but before you get there Johnny's guitar has finished disclosing a drama. The mystery has a cliffhanger ending; though, you have to get inside the music to solve it. There's no sophomore worries on the new album, which recalls the explorations found on Sometime Tuesday Morning, then sets off on its own intimate course." © 1996-2008 Guitar Nine Records All Rights Reserved

If you love guitar, you'll love Johnny A. It's really that simple. The man takes six strings and turns them loose in ways that transcend musical genre, challenging himself to take on different styles in making his Gibson sing. Though primarily a blues guitarist, his love of music outside that realm is made obvious in this current collection. His debut CD, Sometime Tuesday Morning, was first sold out of the trunk of his car after concerts (back in 1999). That CD developed a groundswell of support and became a success when re-issued on Steve Vai's Favored Nations label in 2001. Now, after years of touring, Johnny A. has returned to the studio at long last. So how do you follow up a phenomenal guitar record? For one thing, you keep doing the things you do well. Like the first record, Get Inside is instrumental, showcasing Johnny's virtuoso performances on both original and cover tunes. Secondly, you assemble a superbly tight and talented band to accompany you. Johnny has done that with Ken Clark on Hammond B3, Henley Douglas Jr. on saxophone, Rick O'Neal on electric bass, Garret Savluk on trumpet, and Ron Stewart on drums and percussion. These musicians all are excellent, and while they defer to Johnny A.'s guitar performances here, they still shine. What Johnny does well on this sophomore release is cover a wide swath of music. Unlike other blues guitar "snobs", he's unafraid to venture outside that world into other guitar ghettos -- jazz, rockabilly, fusion, big band, world beat, rock, western swing, and more. Johnny's love of the instrument goes beyond stylistic limitations, and his seemingly effortless command of the guitar inspires envy and admiration. Opening with the spicy Latin rhythm flavors of "Hip Bone", Johnny seems comfortable enough playing along to the percussion (in a very Santana way), then explodes into a fantastic blues leads in the middle bridge, before returning to the song. Johnny shows a real feel for the music (it's not about speed, so much as expression) and makes his guitar an emotive narrator. The jaunty upbeat chorus of "I Had to Laugh" has a jazzy full band swing to it, complete with horns. It's a fun sort of road tune (think of the SNL band in its heyday) and again the highlight is always what Johnny's guitar does, unpredictable in his flashy leads and changes. This is more than good music, it's also great fun. One Johnny covers another in Johnny Rivers' ballad "Poor Side of Town" (co-written with Lou Adler). This 1966 hit is recreated faithfully, with clean tones of guitar taking on each nuance. Johnny A.'s generous spacing between guitar lines allows the song great emotional shadings. "Sing Singin'" is a straight ahead jazz-blues shuffle, in which the guitar sings generously and impressively, both in chords and in notes. The title track takes a sweet blues progression groove and lets that hollow-bodied electric guitar take over with a host of different tones and lead lines (the song goes over the six-minute mark, and to its credit, never seems lengthy or over-extended). "Bundle of Joy" sounds like something from the Chet Atkins canon, a three-plus minute bundle of pure country-picking joy indeed. It's amazing to me just how well Johnny A. covers this particular style of music, exhibiting humor, flair, dexterity, and grace. The moody "Krea Gata" takes us into a deeper jazz realm, hushed gentle tones on a dark night. This song builds slowly but ignites into a maelstrom of furious blues in a solo that will leave the listener agape, before returning back to the tender and mysterious blackness of night. This is a mini-masterpiece of mood, and recalls the style of Wes Montgomery. When Johnny A. takes on a cover, he's not afraid to go after a sacred cow. Such is the case with the Jimi Hendrix' favorite "The Wind Cries Mary". Not only does Johnny A. take on that sacred cow, he slices it up and serves delicious steak to his listeners. He deconstructs it with upbeat, jazzy rhythm and chords, but shows about a minute or so into the song that he can handle the Hendrix riffs with aplomb. Then we get a wonderful sort of Miles Davis funk trumpet take on the song (courtesy of Garret Savluk), before returning to the recognizable Hendrix verse structures. Believe it or not, it works and works well -- and you know that Hendrix himself would likely be honored by this unusual version. Johnny A. goes romping in rockabilly territory with "Ignorance Is Bliss", a high-energy romp rich in bends and fluid chords. Fans of Dave Edmunds and Scotty Moore and other great rockabilly guitarists will love this one. "Sway a Little" is another exotic rhythmic offering, a sweet mid-tempo melody that calls to mind visions of a romantic interlude, slow dancing at some sultry after-hours clubs. Being a word-man, I'm prone to wonder what words might fit this melody (I'm guessing it would be something about love, guaranteed). From out of an explosion of sounds, the song "Stimulation" is born. It comes at you fast and furious, sporting a world beat and entirely rhythm-driven. Johnny A. mixes styles in this one (including some jazz fusion) and spins lovely guitar lines out of a catchy melody. The CD closes with the haunting "Another Life". Out of backward guitar tones that hover in the background comes a dreamy dulcet melody as mellifluous and fluid as light rain, but refreshing as a breeze on a hot summer's day. This is soothing music, clean astral tones that relax. Johnny A. has done it again. His clean production (those guitar tones are wonderful, and each note stands out) and fine accompanying band assure a fine listening experience overall. Get Inside is a shining example of how the guitar can sing with emotions and give voice to a range of complex moods. If you enjoy the instrument beyond any single musical style, then Johnny A. is your man. His talents are driven by quality -- and as such, he delivers yet another fine collection for discerning listeners. © Gary Glauber, 6 July 2004, © 1999-2009 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved


Guitarist Johnny A. was born in Malden, MA and grew up in the North Shore area of Boston, where he led bands that played every major and not-so-major venue in the area as well as a host of roadside bars in the New England area. He eventually chose to become a sideman, playing with such artists as Bobby Whitlock, Mingo Lewis, and J. Geils frontman Peter Wolf. In his six year stint as Wolf's guitarist, Johnny A. recorded on the albums Fool's Parade" (1999) and the one which he co-produced with Wolf, 1996's Long Line. Johnny A. was also a member of Wolf's House Party 5 band and various incarnations of his acoustic ensembles, which toured extensively throughout the United States and Japan. In late 1999, Johnny A. placed himself front and center with an all-new guitar instrumental project and album, titled sometime tuesday morning on Aglaophone Records. The album included original material as well as covers of the Beatles' "Yes It Is," Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman" and Willie Cobbs' blues classic "You Don't Love Me." The album was embraced by radio stations, critics and fans alike. © Ann Wickstrom, allmusic.com


For Johnny A., the guitar has held a lifelong fascination, her six strings exerting a powerful influence and addictive beauty since the first time he held them. The pursuit of this musical lady with the perfect shape has driven his years - shaping the course of his life – taking him places he never could have imagined. Through inspiring moments of ecstatic improvisation, deep contemplation and inevitable gaps of frustration it has been a stormy affair with a tempestuous hollow-body lover, but the marriage has been nothing less than remarkable. Johnny A. is widely regarded as one of America's finest contemporary guitarists. Gibson thinks so – their Custom Shop designed a Signature Edition guitar per his specific requests which, when it was marketed in 2003, placed him in an exclusive club that included legends like BB King, Wes Montgomery, Chet Atkins, Joe Perry, Pat Martino and Les Paul himself. The public thinks so too - Johnny A.'s latest works have sold many thousands of copies as well as being his personal best. The most recent CD's - 2004's Get Inside and 1999's Sometime Tuesday Morning, are the critically acclaimed solo culmination of a lifetime of learning, sharing and bonding in a long parade of bands and players. As a bright-eyed six-year old in Malden, Massachusetts, Johnny became fascinated with the drums, a habit his father encouraged by buying him a kit. There were lessons and the Jr. High School marching band, but as fun as the skins were, he realized that their melodic capability was quite limited. Rhythm had taken a backseat to melody and since the most melodic instrument in any 60's beat group was guitar, those six-strings now began their inexorable pull on Johnny A's life. Once the four “mop-tops” from Liverpool dropped like a bomb from Ed Sullivan's studio into his living room in 1964, his course was set. A $49 Lafayette Electronics guitar became Johnny A.'s first girlfriend. A humble beginning for sure, but his mom was no fool and wanted to be safe if this ‘guitar thing' just turned out to be another passing teenage phase. It wasn't. Johnny saw the Beatles at Suffolk Downs outside of Boston in 1966 and their magical presence sent the impressionable lad into a blur of activity – sweeping up hair and doing odd jobs at his aunt's salon to save up the 88 bucks needed to buy a Vox Clubman guitar. Then, of course, he had to have a Gretsch too. No, this was no passing phase. Fate leaned in and dealt a tough one when the active 13-year old developed a curvature in his spine and suffered massive and painful muscle spasms as a result. Doctors put Johnny in a full body cast for 14 months and eventual body brace for two years to immobilize his back and neck during treatment. As much as this terrible handicap limited the schoolboy in his activities, it didn't stop him from playing. In fact, the condition actually forced Johnny to improve his skills since he could no longer look down at his fingers while forming chords and picking. In high school he was freed from the cast, graduated and then went on to a semester and a half at Boston's Berklee School of Music. Ironically, Johnny had no interest in attending even one of his guitar lessons at the prestigious school - they taught textbook Bebop, while he had moved onto the latest sounds: Progressive Rock and Jazz/Rock Fusion. The instructors preached Lester Young, but Johnny grooved on Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin, King Crimson and Return to Forever featuring Bill Connors and Chick Corea. He bid adieu to Berklee and schooled himself, both at home and in Boston's hippie-era club scene at places like the Ark and Boston Tea Party. In amongst going to see Ten Years After, Steppenwolf, Edger Winter's White Trash, Rhinoceros, Spirit and dozens more, Johnny put together his own group called Squanty Roo. They might not have blazed a trail to Budokan, but they did play the Fusion sounds that the guitarist was digging on. After that it was a short pilgrimage to San Francisco to absorb some counterculture and do a brief stint with percussionist Mingo Lewis. By 1975 Johnny A. had worked out of his progressive phase and hungered to put together a basic rock outfit with the energy of Aerosmith and the melodic fascinations of the Beatles. It was the pre-punk period and Boston was about to become a hotbed of local talent and a leading city to support the brand new wave of bands and attitude. Johnny formed the group The Streets, a leather-clad unit on the ground floor of hard rock that embraced the sounds of 60's British Invasion pop. When Boston's punk scene finally climbed out of a handful of dingy rock and roll basements with its first wave of rock recruits for the brand new era, The Streets were there, scoring a major local radio hit with the song “What Gives.” Eventually, personnel changes killed The Streets, but the guitarist formed other bands – Johnny A.'s Hidden Secret and Hearts on Fire, a unit featuring his wife Beth on vocals. With a sound that drew from country-western twang but rocked solid, Hearts on Fire preceded Maria McKee's Lone Justice and pioneered a distinctive place within Boston's thriving mid-80's local scene. Competing in the 1986 edition of WBCN-FM's annual Rock and Roll Rumble spotlighting two dozen of the year's best up and coming bands, Hearts on Fire blazed a trail all the way into the finals, becoming recognized truly as one of New England's finest and brightest hopes. But Johnny broke up the group instead after realizing that their direction had become “calculated” and “not honest.” Disillusioned after reaching so far within the band format, he began playing with other artists like former Derek and the Dominos keyboardist Bobby Whitlock before hooking up with legendary J. Geils Band front man Peter Wolf. Johnny stayed with Wolf for seven years, playing on his albums and co-producing one of them – 1996's Long Line, as well as supporting the charismatic singer onstage around the world. During this period, in 1994, the Gibson Guitar Company first recognized Johnny's talents, announcing that the company was officially endorsing his fruitful career. But once again Johnny A. felt he had taken a direction and pursuit as far as he could. The idea began to take hold that he should return to a solo direction – this time creating an album of melodies and music that swirled about in his head. Even though it didn't seem as if there was any commercial potential in the move, that wasn't the point – Johnny needed to bring this project to life and it wouldn't resemble anything he'd been involved in the past. Peter Wolf and Johnny A. parted ways and the guitarist began recording tracks for his new experiment – an album of music made merely to satisfy his own muse with no commercial constraints whatsoever. The result was Sometime Tuesday Morning, a solo instrumental guitar album that Johnny A. released on his own label for his own enjoyment plus that of a few intrigued friends and family members. But the warmth of its guitar tones and allure of melody made Sometime Tuesday Morning much more – it made the album a surprise hit. After gigs Johnny began selling dozens, then hundreds, and eventually thousands of copies out of his car trunk. The attention led to a re-release and distribution deal with Steve Vai's Favored Nations label and an ever-widening circle of high-prestige gigs with the likes of B.B. King, Robert Cray, and Jeff Beck plus an appearance at Eric Clapton's “Crossroads Guitar Festival” in 2004. That success gave Johnny A. the confidence to assemble his second instrumental tour de force called Get Inside, another critically acclaimed album that traveled even deeper into the richness of guitar texture and melody. The release once again garnered national radio airplay and inspired another round of touring commitments and personal appearances. An instructional guitar DVD has followed plus plans for his newest project – a live CD/DVD featuring special guests and new material. It has been a long way from that first $49 guitar to Gibson's Johnny A. Signature Edition (Metallica's Kirke Hammett recently bought one), but it's been a fruitful journey. Johnny A. is still doing what he loves to do the most - play guitar and create music, and he's still getting better at it all the time. ©2004-2009 Johnny A. www.johnnya.com/bio.htm