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Friday, Feb. 23, 2007



Carlos Johnson

Chicago bluesman Carlos Johnson is the whole package: deep gravelly voice, thick-timbered guitar and a knack for wry lyrics.

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Carlos Johnson will join local blues musicians when he tours Japan March 14-16.

After backing blues stars from Otis Rush to Son Seals to Koko Taylor, he has now become one of the pre-eminent blues players of his generation (and is busily working on the title of "the pre-eminent"). He brings his gutsy blues to Japan mid-March for an all-too brief tour.

Johnson's guitar is quintessential Chicago blues. Like the most dedicated musicians who ply America's blues scene, Johnson never lets his ego get in the way.

For him, the music is about connecting with authentic feeling. His explosive guitar style could easily fall into showiness, yet his solos are built from the most raw and searing notes.

Johnson has released only a small handful of albums. This year's "Live at B.L.U.E.S. on Halsted" (P-Vine Records) captures a scorching live show at one of Chicago's most revered venues. On all his recordings (such as 2004's "In and out"), he takes on tunes by everyone from Al Green to Big Bill Broonzy, interweaving soul and Delta blues basics with his own originals. He takes the blues back to when gospel, rock, funk and blues all sprang up from a common font of musical energy.

The tour will find Johnson turning up the flame on Japan's quietly thriving blues scene and jamming with the best local bands. The Tokyo show will feature Roller Coaster, a dynamic outfit who have played together for nearly 30 years -- close your eyes at one of Roller Coaster's shows and you will feel like you're in a juke joint in Mississippi.

These three evenings will offer a rare glimpse at the very best from two blues-loving countries.

Carlos Johnson plays: March 14 with Go West at Kyoto's Takutaku (tel. [075] 351-1321); March 15 with Go West at Nagoya's Tokuzo (tel. [052] 733-3709); March 16 with Roller Coaster at Shibuya's O-Nest (tel. [03] 3462-4420). All shows start at 7 p.m. For further information, call Blues Interactions at (03) 5770-5002.

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