Dec. 26, 2011
Louis Johnson announces the release of Old Friend

Beautiful! Is it too early to conclude this is going to be my number 1 album of 2011?”
- Rein van den Berg, Johnny’s Garden (June 2011)


Austin, TX – Louis Johnson’s bluesy Americana music is served up by way of his hard life led experiences balanced by the rich, soulful quality of his voice, a voice commanding and strong without resorting to theatrics. The 11 originals on his new CD, Old Friend, showcase his honey tobacco smooth vocals accompanied only by his guitar and one or two side men – no bass, no drums. It is a straight forward, true grit delivery, a perfect blend of a seasoned life and its story in song, accompanied by some of Austin’s finest musicians.

The songs are glimpses into moments from Louis Johnson’s life, including his days of mining in the Black Hills of South Dakota, making cross country runs to Juarez, Mexico, and eventually finding a path to freedom by way of a clean and sober approach to dealing with his demons. Like Louis says in one of his songs, “the battle’s all over, I have scars but I’m free”.

The recording of Louis Johnson’s Old Friend began on the Alabama Gulf Coast with Anthony Crawford (Neil Young’s band mate) recording Louis’ guitar and vocals for the 11 songs in an hour and a half in Crawford’s living room. Those guitar and vocal tracks are the unaltered one-take versions on the CD.

The songs were then taken to Austin, TX, first to Bradley Kopp’s Red Boot Ranch Studios where Kopp added his signature acoustic lead guitar sound to a few of them, then to Chris Gage’s MoonHouse Studios where Johnson recorded his 2004 debut CD, A Grain of Sand, a Collection of Mickey Newbury Songs (the CD was released on the MoonHouse label under the name Cowboy Johnson). Gage, Louis’ life long friend he met in South Dakota, added his magic to the tracks with piano, B3 organ, dobro, accordion, mandolin, and baritone guitar. Austin’s renowned trumpet player, Ephraim Owens, sweetened two tracks, and Phoebe Hunt’s fine fiddle work put the finishing touches on the one co-write on the album, “Is She Your Memory or Mine”, the song brought to Louis to finish with Jim Pasquale who had begun it with Mickey Newbury just before Newbury passed on in 2002.

Although he spent his youth running from his strict Baptist upbringing, the gospel Louis Johnson learned to sing in the church where his father preached and his mother played the piano has served him righteously and his listeners reap the benefits. Now settled back at home in Austin, TX, the saying “you have to have lived it to sing it”, rings true in the bittersweet lines of Louis Johnson’s songs on Old Friend.