Even music fans unable to attend the upcoming NAMM music show in Anaheim later this month will still have a rare chance to see acclaimed guitarist Eric Johnson play an intimate show in Orange County this month.
So while the Austin, Texas-based guitarist will perform at NAMM (the acronym for the International Music Products Association's previous name, but is still used for the annual convention that draws more than 80,000 music industry insiders to Orange County every January) on Jan. 16, Johnson will perform a full-length set at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano at 8 p.m. on Jan. 14.
Of particular interest to longtime fans of Johnson is that his upcoming show at the Coach House will be among a handful of concerts staged this month that see the legendary guitarist sharing the stage with bassist Kyle Brock and drummer Tommy Taylor for the first time since the mid-1990s. It was that talented trio that was featured on Johnson's classic albums "Ah Via Musicom" (1990) and "Venus Isle" (1996).
"It's kind of a thing where it's a bit under the radar. We kind of booked it last minute," Johnson said in a recent phone interview.
"What happened, I'm releasing a new Strat (Stratocaster guitar) for Fender, a new version of the one that came out a few years ago (in 2005) and so they hired me to play the NAMM show and I thought as long as I'm coming out to play at NAMM maybe we should play a few shows.
"So I talked with my friend Kyle Brock, we hadn't played together for years except this one benefit we did a few months ago, he happened to have a lull in his schedule, and said 'Why don't we get together and play for 10 days?' So it's kind of a coincidence that he had time and we were doing the NAMM show anyway. So why not add a few dates to it."
In addition, both the show at the Coach House and performance at the Fender Musical Instruments exhibition area at the Anaheim Convention Center on Friday afternoon, Jan. 16 will celebrate the recent release of his full-length DVD "Anaheim," which chronicles a concert performance at The Grove of Anaheim on May 3, 2006. Released by Vanguard Records and featuring incredible 5.1 Surround Sound, "Anaheim" was one of the best concert DVD releases of 2008.
"Well, it was a crew from Canada shooting Joe Satriani when I was on tour with him, and they were going to show it for HDNet (the first all-high definition television network) and they had all these cameras and said 'Hey, if you want, we'll shoot your show.' I said, 'Sure, why not'."
After HDNet was done with the footage, they offered to give it to Johnson for his use.
"We did some editing on it and put it together, and started to add a couple of bonus things to it and decided to put this out."
"Anaheim" features tracks from Johnson's most recent studio album, 2005's "Bloom," as well as a cover of Bob Dylan's "My Back Pages," Neil Diamond's "Little Bit Me Little Bit You" and his only recording of a cover of the Jimi Hendrix gem "Manic Depression."
"A lot of time when I go on tour I'll end up doing a Hendrix song because I love playing his music and people like to hear it and that was a particular song that we had worked out before that (2006) tour," Johnson said.
"So yeah, we just had that in our bag for that tour so we played it."
In addition to the nine-song set of songs he performed at the Grove of Anaheim, "Anaheim" also features a wealth of bonus materials including an interview videotaped by Orange County-based Cox3 producer-director Eric Winter, as well as several acoustic performances. The highlight of the acoustic material is Johnson playing a version of Hendrix's "The Wind Cries Mary" on acoustic piano.
"I started playing piano first when I was really, really young and then transferred over to guitar when I was a teenager. I love acoustic piano – it's my favorite instrument."
Eric Johnson and opening act Shawn Jones will perform at the Coach House, 33157 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, at 8 p.m. on Wednesday night, Jan. 14, 2009.
Tickets to the show, priced at $25, are available at the venue's box office.