Richard Leo Johnson is one of the most innovative and inspired acoustic guitarists on the current American music scene. Johnson’s style, characterized by complexity, exhilarating speed, and hauntingly unfamiliar harmonies created through ‘found’ tunings, marks this self-taught player apart. Richard was raised in America’s deep South, in a small Arkansas town in the Mississippi Delta. A good indication of Richard is about is captured when he recalls that his “real jumping off point” was a home-made cassette he received as a teenager, which featured The Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Inner Mounting Flame on one side, and Leo Kottke’s Greenhouse on the other; “I thought both sides were by the same artist! The initial impact was that it was somehow possible to make something happen that fused the linear liquidity of McLaughlin and the dense harmonic structure and drive of Kottke.” Practicing incessantly on his own, Johnson developed an idiosyncratic playing style which combined plucking and strumming, alternating between 6, 12, and 18 strings (a 2-necked McCullum guitar with 6 and 12 strings), using all parts of the guitar, and employing 30 tunings he devised. The Richard Leo Johnson Trio is his first ever 'band' and it fuses elements of Americana, rock, ambient and folk music with the sensibilities of classical color and structure, reflecting an eclectic, modern outlook on chamber music. With the collaboration of the classically trained and former symphony musicians Andrew Ripley (wind instruments and electronics) and Ricardo A. Ochoa (strings and theremin), Richard Leo Johnson brings a fresh new focus and additional instrumental orchestrations to his own brand of guitar-centric instrumental poetry, making for a music that is both beautiful and deep.
"Be prepared...the extraordinary Richard Leo Johnson isn't quite like any...guitarist you've ever heard before."
"Difficult to categorize...but marvelous to hear."
–All Music Guide