Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Arcade Fire to ZZ Ward: Coachella 2014 Weekend 2 roundup

Poetic Kinetics' "Escape Velocity" at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
Weekend 2 at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival (April 18-20, 2014) didn't kick off quietly on Friday morning, at least in the Gobi tent where Ramones tribute outfit Gabba Gabba Heys tore through 40 minutes of old school punk rock in front of a small, but enthusiastic group of early Coachellagoers.

Highlights included the quartet's faithful versions of "Blitzkrieg Bop," "I Wanna Be Sedated" and "Beat on the Brat." For those of us who never got to see the Ramones live, this was likely a very fitting tribute. 

Following up on the same stage came dynamic sonic duo Wye Oak, whose magical appearance included singer/multi-instrumentalist Jenn Wasner and drummer-keyboardist Andy Stack creating enough textures and dynamics to rival just about any indie folk rock outfit today. The pair featured several songs from their forthcoming album Shriek including that disc's title cut, a dreamy synth-pop gem highlighting Wasner's distinctive soprano.

Another musical highlights that played out on the first day of Weekend 2 featured ZZ Ward who
ZZ Ward in action on April 18 in the Mojave tent.
brought her infectious blend of R&B, pop, blues and rock in a Mojave tent performance that got the place moving like it was Saturday night. People cheered, moved and clapped to the mix of the Pennsylvania artist's high energy style that had her singing, playing blues harmonica or strumming her guitar, Ward's material was definitely what the crowd ordered. Early offerings ("Put the Gun Down," "Til the Casket Drops") and later favorites (especially the closer "Blue Eyes Blind") were delivered forcefully by Ward and her strong three-man band. 

Other day 1 standout performances came later that day via Neko Case's authentic and winning 50-minute set on the Outdoor stage (highlighted by a stunning version of "Night Still Comes") and even stronger subsequent turns from Broken Bells and The Replacements. Broken Bells' infectious "After the Disco" and set-ending "High Road" really hit home with a crowd that packed in front of the James Mercer- and Danger Mouse-led troupe.


Neko Case performed on the Outdoor stage.
Friday ended long after it started with a rousing performance by The Replacements, who were joined for most of the set by Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong. Because Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg had been suffering from an ailing back, he was positioned on a large sofa for most of the show while Armstrong stood and added a flair to the proceedings ("Can't Hardly Wait" simply rocked).

Day 2 kicked off with British soul singer Laura Mvula, who made the most of her early afternoon set in the Gobi by performing not only choice songs from her wonderful debut Sing to the Moon but even a non-album track about freedom titled "Let Me Fall" that included an undeniable rhythm provided by a stand-up bass and elements of African music. Other highlights of her 40-minute set included "She" and the infectious dance-minded "Green Garden." I then ran over to the Mojave (you do a lot of that at Coachella in the sport of "musical discovery") to catch the last few minutes of New York-based Bear Hands' set. The quartet's mix of dance and alt rock was effective on the original "Agora," notably how bass was used to help propel the song along.

The next band I caught, White Lies proved to be one of my favorite performers of the weekend. Although I only got to see the English band's first five songs, it was immediately clear the group and their material outdistance their post-punk roots. The infectious "There Goes Our Love Again" was a clear favorite while "To Lose My Life" showcased the deeper emotional elements of the group's artistic reach.

Playing in the heat of the late afternoon on the main stage, City and Colour (the moniker for singer-songwriter Dallas Green) and his band brought authority and authenticity of his blend of Americana, folk and country-rock with a power that connected with the large crowd. "Hope for Now" was among the standouts of City and Colour's 40-minute foray, with the song's long and emotional build steeped in power that was palpable.

Like Capital Cities' amazing and high-energy dance-minded set a bit earlier, Foster the People found the power to move the masses came via unleashing a number of dance-minded songs that had festival-goers moving after dark. The group's "Pumped Up Kids" really excited the crowd, and the closer "Don't Stop (Color on the Walls)" allowed Foster the People to showcase the harder guitar side of their tuneful alt rock-dance approach.

Saturday night ended with me wishing I could be in two places at once; catching the first 40 minutes of Muse on the main stage ("Knights of Cydonia" kicked things off with the band's characteristic bombast), and finishing up my night in a sea of dancing people in the Mojave as the Pet Shop Boys thrilled the party faithful with "I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too)," "It's a Sin," "Always on my Mind" and other hits from the British duo in a showcase that included incredible lighting and artful sets as well as several costumed dancers.
Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys.


The fest flew to the finish line on day 3 thanks to outstanding performances spanning the long day. First up was powerful New Orleans-based Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, with the ensemble blending funk, rock, hip hop and jazz for a crowd positioned in front of the Coachella stage. Another early day outstanding turn came via indie singer Courtney Barnett, who featured songs off her first international release The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas. Highlights of her set included the blues-rocker "David" and the heavy Neil Young & Crazy Horse-tinged "Out of the Woodwork."

British pub-minded rocker Frank Turner, indie North Carolina rockers Superchunk, genre-busting Beck and Canadian troupe Arcade Fire (whose version of "No Cars Go" soared) also impressed in their more high profile sets. This weekend was definitely a three-day party that the Coachella faithful will long remember.

Artist Christian Ristow's "Becoming Human"
surveys the Empire Polo Club in Indio.
Coachella not only boasted countless artists representing a countless number of musical styles, but the 90,000 or so attendees who attended the second weekend of the event also got to check out original and one-of-a-kind artwork commissioned for Coachellafest. From the innovative and jaw-dropping "Smart Bird" (which looked like a silver winged robot that flew through the skies flapping its wings like a real bird) to the towering robot-minded piece titled "Becoming Human" and gigantic astronaut "Escape Velocity," more than 20 artists' installations were featured. Scroll below to see some more images from Coachella I shot over the weekend...


Artist Mike Grandaw's aptly-titled "Caterpillar"


Yours truly in artist Philip K Smith's "Reflection Field."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sights and Sounds: Coldplay, The Secret Sisters, AXS TV to broadcast Coachella

As I get set to hit Coachella Weekend 2 tomorrow, this will likely be my last roundup until next week, but it is a good one! Hope to see many of you in Indio this weekend!

Coldplay shows announced; six international dates to mark the release of the band's 'Ghost Stories' LP

Coldplay have announced that they will mark the release of their new album, Ghost Stories, by playing six intimate shows in six cities around the world. The dates are as follows:

25 April - E-Werk, Cologne, Germany 

5 May - Beacon Theatre, New York, USA 

19 May - Royce Hall, Los Angeles, USA 

28 May - Casino de Paris, Paris, France  
  
 
12 June - Dome City Hall, Tokyo, Japan
 

1 July - Royal Albert Hall, London, UK
 

Tickets for the Cologne show will go on sale at 9 a.m. CET on Saturday, 19 April from www.eventim.de/coldplay.

Ticket information for the remaining five shows will be emailed exclusively to subscribers to the Coldplay mailing list (which can be joined at Coldplay.com).

Ghost Stories is Coldplay's sixth album. It will be released worldwide on Monday, 19 May. 


THE SECRET SISTERS NEW ALBUM
PUT YOUR NEEDLE DOWN AVAILABLE NOW

Critically Acclaimed Duo's First Album In Three Years
Produced By T Bone Burnett

Album Features New Original Songs Including First Single,
"Rattle My Bones," And "Dirty Lie" Co-Written by Bob Dylan

The Secret Sisters currently supporting country trio Nickel Creek
on its entire US reunion tour in April and May

The Secret Sisters' long-awaited second album, Put Your Needle Down is available now via Republic Records. The Alabama duo's sophomore set was produced by the iconic T Bone Burnett, and marks a giant creative step forward for siblings Laura and Lydia RogersPut Your Needle Down is currently available at iTunesAmazon and other select retailers.

Recently featured on NPR WEEKEND EDITION, they say"The Secret Sisters' music is a nostalgic blend of country, folk, blues and rockabilly," and USA TODAYwhich gave the album 4 out of 4 stars, says of Put Your Needle Down, "While still steeped in exquisite sibling harmonies, this albumcontemporizes them." ROLLING STONE says of the album, "Ethereal harmonies once again take center stage on the Secret Sisters' sophomore album [that] takes the listener back to a time when vocalists valued purity over production. But this time around, they manage to marry their signature throwback sound with a lot more energy."  

The album's 12 songs - primarily written or co-written by Laura and Lydia - seamlessly blend an exciting and decidedly Southern patchwork of country, blues, Americana, folk, rock and gospel. The album is preceded by the new single "Rattle My Bones," hopping from a guitar gallop into sweet, soaring harmonies from Laura and Lydia, it taps into a delightfully entrancing energy that's both enigmatic and endearing. The new album also features the he-said-she-said accusations of "Dirty Lie,"co-written with Bob Dylan. An unfinished song they brought to life, Dylan started writing "Dirty Lie" back in the '80s and when he heard that The Secret Sisters were recording a new album, he sent several demos to them for their consideration and gave the Sisters the nod to finish the song and record it.

Put Your Needle Down illuminates the many facets of this diverse, dynamic, and darling twosome and sways from the soulful mourning of "Let There Be Lonely" to the coy "murder ballad" "Iuka", and the uplifting musical baptism of "River Jordan".

In support of the album's release, The Secret Sisters are currently supporting country trio Nickel Creek on its entire US reunion tour in April and May.

Put Your Needle Down 
Track Listing:1. Rattle My Bones
2. Iuka
3. Dirty Lie
4. The Pocket Knife
5. Let There Be Lonely
6. Black And Blue
7. Lonely Island
8. I Cannot Find A Way
9. If I Don't
10. Good Luck Good Night Goodbye
11. Bad Habit
12. River Jordan

The tour itinerary is as follows:

4/16      Alabama Theater                       Birmingham, AL
4/17      Thomas Wolfe Auditorium          Ashville, NC
4/18      Ryman Auditorium                     Nashville, TN
4/19      Ryman Auditorium                     Nashville, TN
4/21      Track 29                                    Chattanooga, TN
4/22      Johnny Mercer Theater               Savannah, GA
4/24      NC Performing Arts Center        North Charleston, SC
4/25      Tabernacle                                Atlanta, GA
4/26      nTelos Wireless Pavilion            Charlottesville, VA
4/27      Tennessee Theatre                     Knoxville, TN
4/29      Beacon Theatre                         New York, NY
5/01      House of Blues                         Boston, MA
5/02      Keswick Theatre                        Glenside, PA
5/03      9:30 Club                                  Washington, DC
5/04      9:30 Club                                  Washington, DC
5/06      Taft Theatre                               Cincinnati, OH
5/08      Egyptian Room                         Indianapolis, IN
5/09      Riviera Theater                          Chicago, IL
5/10      Pabst Theater                            Milwaukee, WI
5/11      State Theatre                             Minneapolis, MN
5/13      Ogden Theatre                          Denver, CO
5/14      Kingsbury Hall                           Salt Lake City, UT
5/16      Crystal Ballroom                        Portland, OR
5/17      Moore Theatre                           Seattle, WA
5/19      Fox Theater                               Oakland, CA
5/20      Balboa Theatre                          San Diego, CA
5/21      The Wiltern                                Los Angeles, CA



AXS TV ANNOUNCES FEATURED ACTS FOR LIVE BROADCAST OF WEEK 2 OF COACHELLA, AIRING FRIDAY, APRIL 18 THROUGH SUNDAY, APRIL 20

Weekend-Long Broadcast Features Over 20 Hours of Live Coverage,
Spanning 5 Stages, Airing Nightly at 9pE/6pP

For the first time ever, the second weekend of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival will be broadcast live, as AXS TV–the premier destination for live music events—gives viewers a front row seat to one of the most popular music festivals in the United States. AXS TV will offer incomparable access while broadcasting over 20 hours of live coverage, from Friday, April 18 through Sunday, April 20, airing each evening at 9pE/6pP.

Held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, CA, the three-day cultural phenomenon boasts an eclectic blend of mainstream acts, underground favorites, up-and-comers and icons, spanning a wide array of genres from indie and rap, to metal and punk, and everything in between.

Featured in Friday’s live coverage is an explosive lineup that includes Ellie Goulding, Grouplove, Bastille, AFI, Neko Case, Broken Bells, Chromeo, Kate Nash, HAIM, ZZ Ward and Bryan Ferry. Friday’s coverage re-airs on Sat., April 19 at 2pE/11aP.

Saturday, April 19, features Lorde, Cage the Elephant, CHVRCHES, The Head and the Heart, Capital Cities, Future Islands, Fatboy Slim, MGMT, The Pixies, Queens of the Stone Age, and Foster the People. Saturday’s coverage re-airs on Sun., April 20 at 2pE/11aP.

The weekend comes to a close on Sunday, April 20, with Arcade Fire, Beck, Skrillex, Pet Shop Boys, Big Gigantic, Daughter, NAS, Fishbone, Frank Turner, and Calvin Harris. Sunday’s coverage re-airs on Mon., April 21 at 2pE/11aP.
Hosting the broadcast is KCRW’s Music Director and “Morning Becomes Eclectic” DJ, Jason Bentley. Bentley will conduct artist interviews and co-produce exclusive editorial segments.

Summary of AXS TV’s 2014 Coachella Lineup* (Does Not Represent Broadcast Order)
*Lineup Subject To Change

 Friday, April 18, 2014
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Sunday, April 20, 2014
AFI
Cage the Elephant
Arcade Fire
Bastille
Capital Cities
Beck
Broken Bells
CHVRCHES
Big Gigantic
Bryan Ferry
Fatboy Slim
Calvin Harris
Chromeo
Foster the People
Daughter
Ellie Goulding
Future Islands
Fishbone
Grouplove
Lorde
Frank Turner
HAIM
MGMT
NAS 
Kate Nash
Queens of the Stone Age
Pet Shop Boys
Neko Case
The Head and the Heart
Skrillex
ZZ Ward
The Pixies

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

David Crosby back on track with five-night run

My review was originally posted on The Orange County Register site on Tuesday, April 15, 2014.

Delayed because of surgery, his Troubadour stand finds the legend rebounding beautifully, revisiting history while showcasing his first solo album in two decades.


David Crosby scored all kinds of high points just for walking on stage Sunday night (April 13, 2014) at the Troubadour.
Back in February, he postponed a five-night solo run at the West Hollywood landmark to undergo emergency heart surgery. Yet here he was, a mere two months, later performing a full-length concert that didn't cut any corners.
Indeed, the 72-year-old folk and rock legend has had a number of well-publicized health issues in the past, including, most famously, a liver transplant in 1994. While he looked thin and at times tired over the course of his 150-minute concert, the multiple standing ovations that followed the rousing one that erupted when he stepped into view a couple minutes after 8 p.m. were soundly earned.
At this kickoff show, Crosby still proved capable of delivering new and classic material with emotional power and grace. The first of two sets found him and an amazing five-man band performing his latest album, Croz, from start to finish. Released in January, it's not only the Los Angeles native's first solo work in 20 years but boasts some of the most powerful songs he has recorded. (Its Top 40 debut on Billboard's albums chart also marks the first time he's been ranked on that list as a solo artist since his 1971 cult classic If I Could Only Remember My Name.)
After opening with "What's Broken," a piece built on the Laurel Canyon folk-rock feel so associated with Crosby's legacy, subsequent material expanded on that soundscape with jazz, heavier rock and psychedelic elements. His excellent players – notably guitarists Shane Fontayne and Marcus Eaton as well as the star's son, keyboardist James Raymond – all added magical textures and dynamics throughout.
Crosby also was in a particularly wry mood Sunday evening. "I had a body shaped like an avocado and I was really comfortable with it," he mentioned with regard to his thinner appearance. "I got sick and stopped eating," he explained, but quipped that he can tuck in his shirt now.
The focus of the night, however, was justifiably on his music. The hard acoustic rocker "The Clearing" featured an especially stirring bridge with peaks and valleys of music magic bookending confessional lyrics: "This kind of love don't need a home / This kind of heart beats all alone / This kind of world, gonna let it go / Lay down the things that came before." The audience (including Jackson Browne, spotted in the balcony) was enthusiastic but collectively reverent while he was performing.
As he promised at the outset, the second set included songs the audience knew. "Eight Miles High" started that off, with Crosby summoning strength on electric guitar as Fontayne worked his 12-string Rickenbacker with cascading and shimmering lines that brought that classic's distinctive sound back to life.
"This is where we met and put together the Byrds," Crosby pointed out, noting the importance of the Troubadour after the song. He then mentioned that another member of that seminal band was in the house – and out came Chris Hillman, who added: "I don't think I've been on this stage for 40 years."
The old friends then led the ensemble through an evocative version of "Turn! Turn! Turn!," another enduring Byrds staple that Crosby pointedly dedicated to its originator, folk icon Pete Seeger, who died in January. After the song was luxuriously performed, with lush vocal harmonies, Crosby and Hillman hugged as the audience applauded.
The headliner then proceeded to highlight material from both Crosby, Stills & Nash and his oft-overlooked '90s project CPR (including Raymond and guitarist Jeff Pevar). Highlights came one after another, from little-heard gems like the jazz-rock tune "That House" to heavyweights from his glory days, notably "Guinnevere" and a hard-rocking "Long Time Gone."
The good news for fans is that after his Tuesday replay there are still two more chances to see him, April 17-18, although prices on secondhand site StubHub are roughly $80 a pop. Wait until the day of the show and they likely will drop.
Photo: Buzz Person

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Sights and Sounds: Steely Dan, Eric Johnson

Here is a roundup of the latest notable releases to land in my inbox. I've reviewed and been blown away by both Steely Dan and Eric Johnson at concert settings, so it makes lots of sense to feature their latest updates here...



Steely Dan's Donald Fagen, left and Walter Becker.
Photo: Danny Clinch
STEELY DAN ANNOUNCES NORTH AMERICAN SUMMER TOUR
* * * * *
“Jamalot Ever After” Set to Begin on July 2  
Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Walter Becker and Donald Fagen have announced that Steely Dan will hit the road again in 2014, taking their “Jamalot Ever After” Tour across the U.S. and Canada.  Opening at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, Oregon on July 2, the tour is set to make stops in 47 cities before concluding at Baltimore, Maryland’s Pier Six Pavilion on September 17.

Tickets for the show in San Diego, CA at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay on July 13 and for Oklahoma City, OK on July 21 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena are on sale now. Fans should check local listings and www.steelydan.com for updated tour and additional ticketing information. Ticket purchase links for the tour can be found below.  
At “Jamalot Ever After,” concertgoers can expect an evening of the same high-level of musical excellence which, on recent tours, garnered raves from fans and critics alike:

"Everyone gathered Friday evening was a believer — and they were treated to something close to rapture." -The Los Angeles Times

Onstage, Donald and Walter will be joined by those same eight “brilliant” supporting musicians: Keith Carlock on drums, Freddie Washington on bass, Jim Beard on keyboards, Jon Herington on guitar, Michael Leonhart on trumpet and keys, Jim Pugh on trombone, Roger Rosenberg on baritone saxophone and Walt Weiskopf on saxophone, along with three “superb,” soulful songbirds: La Tanya Hall, Carolyn Leonhart-Escoffery and Cindy Mizelle. Together, they will treat audiences to selections from The Dan's extraordinary four-decade catalog, rich with infectious tunes, bodacious harmonies, irresistible grooves, and sleek, subversive lyrics, punctuated by blazing solo work and rich ensembles.

 
Steely Dan has sold more than 40 million albums worldwide and helped define the soundtrack of the '70s with hits such as “Reelin’ in the Years,” “Rikki Don't Lose That Number,” “F.M.,” “Peg,” “Hey Nineteen,” “Deacon Blues,” and “Babylon Sisters,” culled from their seven platinum albums issued between 1972 and 1980 (including 1977's groundbreaking Aja). They reunited in the early '90s, launching a string of sold-out tours. In 2000 they released multi-Grammy winner (including “Album Of The Year”) Two Against Nature, and released its acclaimed follow-up Everything Must Go in 2003. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Visit www.steelydan.com and https://www.facebook.com/SteelyDan for updated tour news and information.




ERIC JOHNSON AND PROVOGUE / MASCOT LABEL GROUP
ANNOUNCE JUNE 24 RELEASE DATE FOR EUROPE LIVE
Eric Johnson / Photo: Max Crace
New York, NY --- Mascot Label Group's Provogue Records and Eric Johnson announce a June 24 release date for Europe Live.  Guitar Player Magazine cited Johnson as “one of the most respected guitarists on the planet,” and the reasons why are many. Such primary ones as the lyrical beauty of his playing and compositions, his rich and colorfully broad palette of tones, his awesome instrumental agility, breadth and command, and the mesmerizing spell he summons up in concert.  All of these qualities can be heard on his new album, Europe Live.
The in-concert collection's 14 tracks draw from throughout Johnson's career and include two new compositions: The mesmeric "Intro" that opens the set, and the rollicking rocker "Evinrude Fever" (that alludes to his love for water skiing and boating). His Grammy-winning instrumental "Cliffs of Dover" and Grammy nominated "Zap" are performed with fresh and vigorous energy, and he shows his ever-deepening skills as a singer on such numbers as his soaring, blues-tinged salute to his hometown, "Austin," and the airy and glistening "40 Mile Town." Johnson's lifelong love of jazz and more recent forays into playing it emerges on his stunning nine-and-a-half minute interpretation of John Coltrane's "Mr. P.C." on which bassist Chris Maresh and drummer Wayne Salzmann also step out with power. The song selection ranges from an acoustic guitar rendition of "A Song For Life" which he initially cut on his debut studio album to the ferociously funky "Fatdaddy" from his most recent release, Up Close.  Johnson celebrates his side-project Alien Love Child with the hard-driving rock workout "Zenland," and the eleven-and-a-half minute multimodal suite "Last House On The Block." Originally released in 1996, the fan favorite "Manhattan" shines, while a gloriously cinematic rearrangement of "When the Sun Meets the Sky," titled "Sun Reprise" closes the set.

Europe Live was recorded in venues across Johnson's tour of the continent, with the majority of the album capturing his appearance at Amsterdam's Melkweg along with selections from  two dates in Germany at Die Kantine in Köln  and Bochum Zeche and the Paris show at New Morning.  Each appearance featured a unique set list, offering Johnson the opportunity to cull this track listing from a wealth of repertoire captured. 
Although he may be best known as the masterful studio craftsman behind his acclaimed million-plus selling breakout 1990 album Ah Via Musicom and its Top 10 hit "Cliffs of Dover," Johnson first made his musical bones and sparked a potent buzz in live performance from the late 1960s to the mid 1980s long before he ever issued an album and was heard on radio. As guitar legend Johnny Winter recalls of seeing Johnson perform back then, "When I first heard Eric, he was only 16, and I remember wishing that I could have played like that at that age."                                                                                               
Over his seven studio albums, Johnson has delivered three Top 10 hits ("Cliffs of Dover," "Trademark" and "Righteous") and two Top 40 singles ("Pavilion" and "High Landrons").  N.A.R.A.S. has celebrated his career with six Grammy nominations, while periodicals in the music space have honored with him for decades.  He is enshrined in Guitar Player magazine’s "Gallery of Greats," while Musician Magazine named him one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century.  He continues to refine and expand his musical brilliance in his own electric and acoustic tours (playing both guitar and piano), and his recent live collaborations on both electric guitar with jazz player Mike Stern and slide master Sonny Landreth.  Johnson is a frequent featured artist on the Experience Hendrix tours, as well as acoustic excursions with  the likes of Andy McKee and Peppino D’Agostino.
Johnson offers, "Working on this live record was kind of an epiphany for me because I realized that this is where it's at, no matter where you're playing, it should be a performance.  The more I do that the more I realize, wow, there's something special there. I'm enjoying playing more now because I am so committed to making sure that facet is really up front, one of the number one things. And I've been doing it in the studio when people send me tracks to play on, and I say, okay, hit record, and let's just do this all the way through. And I listen back and go, wow, that's just more interesting and enjoyable to listen to."
Avidly collaborative, Johnson first started recording with others in the 1980s on sessions for Cat Stevens, Christopher Cross and Carole King, and has since recorded and/or performed with Rodney Crowell, Richard Marx, Jennifer Warnes, Carla Olson, Chet Atkins, B.B. King,  James Burton, Steve Miller, Jerry Reed, Steve Vai and Joe Satriani (on the original G3 tour), John McLaughlin, Jimmie Vaughan, Sonny Landreth, Dweezil Zappa and Adrian Legg, and many more. He has paid homage in song to such players as Jerry Reed (“Tribute to Jerry Reed” on Bloom), fellow Texan Stevie Ray Vaughan (the Grammy-nominated track “SRV”) and Wes Montgomery (who Johnson saluted in his Ah Via Musicomcomposition “East Wes”). 
Throughout his career he has consistently won and placed high in numerous readers and critic polls conducted by guitar publications, most recently in 2010 when he was named Guitarist of the Year by Guitar International. Eric has also won more Austin Music Awards (33) than anyone else since they began in 1981, including Musician of the Year and Best Electric & Acoustic Guitarist plus Best Instrumental & Video, and was inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame in its first year in 1983.
He follows Europe Live with an album with his friend and fellow guitarist Mike Stern and is composing and recording tracks for both a new electric album as well as his first acoustic guitar release. Additionally, Johnson has embraced the digital age, releasing tracks via his site www.ericjohnson.com.  Currently, songs that include "To Whom It May Concern," "Imagination Of You - A Tribute To George Harrison" (featuring Christopher Cross) and his rendition of "The Wind Cries Mary" are available.  Johnson offers, "The Internet is a creative vehicle to get artist's music heard and level the playing field.  There is no barrier between the creative process and those compositions created reaching the fan."   Johnson continues to reach further and higher as a player, songwriter and singer, and considers being rated one of the greatest at his talents as simply a springboard to new levels of artistry and listener appeal.

You can read my feature story that featured an interview with Johnson that ran in The Orange County Register back in 2009 here.