Scott Albert Johnson has been a fixture in the Jackson music scene since he decided to come back home a few years ago after living all over the U.S. The harmonica virtuoso has played around town with local artists from Sherman Lee Dillon to Chris Gill to the legendary Dorothy Moore. It is hard to believe, then, that "Umbrella Man," Johnson's new album set to release May 1, is his debut. On it, Johnson displays the confidence of a seasoned musician and employs the help of Jackie Bell, Skeet Myers and drummer Johnny Vidacovich.
With never a dull moment, "Umbrella Man" takes the listener on a ride with plenty of ups and downs. The album begins with "Spaceship," a humorous Diddley-esque shuffle about extraterrestrial possibilities. Johnson then launches right into more serious rock, jazz-inspired tunes and even a toe-tapping cover of Wynton Marsalis' "In the Court of King Oliver."
Johnson evokes a laid-back, Jimmy Buffet feel on "Hollywood" and "Magnolia Road," and then turns things upside down for what is probably my favorite tune on the album, the raucously infectious instrumental "Walkabout." This song uses the didgeridoo in a completely different way, combined with Johnson's skillfully relentless harmonica, for a gritty and danceable groove.
It has taken Johnson three years to bring this album to fruition. It has definitely been worth the wait. The "Umbrella Man" release party is May 10 at Hal & Mal's, and Thacker Mountain Radio fans should also tune in May 3 to hear Johnson perform.