Bill Johnson Trio

Category : Calgary Bluesfest
Aug. 24, 2020 at 11:49 a.m. MDT

SONG: Born Under a Bad Sign

Bill Johnson, of Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island, began playing guitar at the age of nine. Part of a musical and artistic family, he had wanted to play music like those around him. Between his uncle a fine Country and Western guitarist, and brother a Blues harmonica player, and even the neighbours, there were lots of great sounds happening around him. The insolation of island life has a way of contributing to unique abilities. For Bill it lead to combining all he heard into his own brand of soul-thumping blues. At first his guitar caught the ear of a few great band leaders. As a sideman those bands have included some legendary and well respected respected blues artists including: Hubert Sumlin, Cash McCall, Son Seals, Donald Ray Johnson, Rita Chiarelli, Big Dave McLean, Dutch Mason, Suzy Vinnick, and David Vest. Presented solo on acoustic guitar, or with his band, he has opened shows for Otis Rush, James Cotton, Dr John, Paul Rogers, Keb Mo, Colin Linden, and so many more.

When the opportunity came along to start his own group in 1993, the band, a trio with Joby Baker (drums) and Casey Ryder (bass) played their first show opening for blues legend Otis Rush at the Victoria International Jazz Festival. The band received such high praise after the event in the local news paper they became an instant success in BC's Capital. Whether solo, or performing with a band, playing traditionally or with a slide, his ability to create beautiful tones and a passion for the blues is instantly apparent. Even though he has only scratched the surface in traveling Canada, a Juno nomination in 2012, and four Maple Blues Award nominations have earned him a lasting place among the countries top blues artists. In 2016 Bill, now 52, released Cold Outside. That CD reached the position of #2 on the Canadian College radio charts. With many passionate reviews, it's also finding airplay around the world. His belief that the blues can still be relevant in everyone's lives leaves the cotton fields behind and tackles many modern subjects with compassion and humour. From country blues to a blast of electrified energy, his show is not to be missed. It's often said within the many reviews of his music that Bill is worthy of far greater recognition. Now with every new town and performance also come many new and, amazed fans. It seems the world is beginning to discover Bill Johnson.

In Victoria and on the road Bill Johnson works with an alumnus of band members depending on the situation.

John Hunter, has worked as a drummer since the early 1970s across the landscape of the Canadian blues scene. To name a few he's played with James Cotton, Johnny V, and and co-written with Bill Johnson, Harpdog Brown, and Dave Harris, creating a number of great recordings. John's a tireless worker with the Victoria Blues Society, and travels with Bill furthering original live blues where ever he can.

George Fenn, A veteran life long musician from Saskachewan, George is a dedicated bassist focused in the world of original Blues. Working with several top Bands on the lower island, George travels with Bill, and as of 2017 is the main man on the bottom end of the band.

Rick Erickson bass, is a life long veteran of the Canadian recording industry working as an Edmonton session musician and engineer for clients such as CBC's Holger Petersen, SCTV, 1988 Olympic games broadcast. He is the bassist on many hit records somewhat like Canada's version of the musicians of Motown or Muscle Shoals house bands. Rick remains an alumni member of the band and is enjoying partial retirement these days. Ross Hall drums, has had 30 years of performing regularly in the hotel and bar industry of Alberta. He has a remarkable ability to keep rock solid time and play at any volume. Combine this with his knowledge of the many intricate rhythms that make up the Blues, and you find the heart of the bands ubiquitous grooviness. Ross plays with several top lower Island and Vancouver Bands, and is an alumni member of the band.