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CD Review: Michael Johnathon – Songs of Rural America – with the Ohio Valley Symphony – by Bob Everhart for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

MICHAEL JOHNATHON

Songs of Rural America – with the Ohio Valley Symphony

Front Porch Swing – Cars – Strangest Dream –
Autumn Song – Aura Lee – It Doesn’t Matter Anymore – New Wood – Colorado
Trail – Pachelbel’s Canon – How Can I Keep From Singing – Summertime –
Believe – Winter Song – Front Porch – Vincent

The first thing I need to say about this review
is that I know Michael Johnathon very well, he’s a good friend.  He has
been on our festival a couple of times.  He’s a remarkable performer,
whether it be just him and his guitar and banjo, or with an entire
symphony, like this recording with the Ohio Valley Symphony, recorded at
the historic Ariel Opera House in Gallipolis, Ohio.  It’s quite
remarkable.  Michael approaches songs of rural America from a kind of
soft folk-like approach, by my oh my does he make you listen.  Put that
older style of music together with a symphony and you have a once in a
lifetime experience.  This recording is a perfect example of what
‘creativity’ is all about.  It’s Michael Johnathon at his very best, and
he definitely knows what he is doing.  He has an incredibly listenable
voice, whether he is talking, telling a funny story, or doing a song of
Buddy Holly.  Wow, this is a listening experience that everyone that has
ever considered themselves ‘rural’ should not only listen to, but they
should have it handy ALL the time just to get picked up off the floor of
failure.  Michael is an amazing creative one-of-a-kind performer.  He
spans the full gamete of old-time Appalachia to an incredible rendition
of a great song ‘Summertime.’ All the while he keeps the ‘presence’ of
his incredible time on the stage, absolutely under control and
absolutely impossible to look or hear away from what he’s doing.  In his
own words he says, “Once upon a time, rural America was built  on the
music and conversation of families who relaxed at the end of the day
playing music on their front porches.”  I believe Michael is right, even
though I personally must have permanently gotten stuck on the front
porch.  This style of music and entertainment Michael is presenting
would be most welcome on any front porch in my rural America.  He was
born and raised in New York.  I was born and raised on a share-cropper
farm in Nebraska.  Do we think alike?  Sure we do.  We both know what’s
good and what’s not.  I love how he kept a small ‘Irish’ sound in ‘How
Can I Keep From Singing.” I love how he keeps Woody Guthrie alive and
well with ‘Believe.’  I love how he keeps Cowboy music alive with
“Colorado Trail.”  Well, I have to admit it, I love Michael Johnathon’s
incredible CD.  My small time stuff is nothing compared to this
brilliant man. Access to his work is available at SongFarmers.org  What a
treat it is to listen to something ‘good.’

RECORD REVIEW BY Bob Everhart, President, National Traditional Country Music Association www.music-savers.com for Country Music News International Magazine & Radio Show

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