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The Legend of Vernon McAlister by Richard Leo Johnson

Perhaps not quite as exasperating or lucrative as finding an original Picasso in your attic, nonetheless; surprises in various shapes, forms or flavors can be a good thing. Here, acoustic guitar hero Richard Leo Johnson was handed a 1930s model steel-bodied guitar by his neighbor. Inscribed with the unfamiliar name Vernon McAlister, this recording finds Johnson exploring various tonal characteristics with the National Duolian steel guitar. He casts nouveau spins on folksy Americana stylizations via a hodgepodge of storylines, spanning country-blues and upbeat chord voicings. Johnson often elicits notions of a country gentleman sitting on his porch in a backwoods environment; however this outing features a lofty degree of experimentation.

Noted for his odd-tunings and polyrhythmic chord phrasings, Johnson is a multitasking master where he renders quaint harmonics, along with eerie slide guitar treatments. Marked with dreamy lines, the guitarist walks, strolls, and glides through a multitude of frameworks. He conveys great depth, while also highlighting the guitar’s innate qualities, generally transmitting a sense of antiquity. On the piece titled "Eaten by Wolves at Midnight," Johnson’s detuned single note runs coupled with ethereal treatments and cyclical harmonics, present a triad of sorts. He also skirts avant-garde propositions during this fanciful and mood-evoking jamboree for the heart and soul. (Strongly recommended.... )

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Richard Leo Johnson
  • CD Title: The Legend of Vernon McAlister
  • Genre: Folk Jazz
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Cuneiform Records
  • Musicians: Richard Leo Johnson (1930s National Duolian steel-bodied guitar)
  • Rating: Four Stars
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