Wayne Wesley Johnson dba Wannadu, LLC

Wayne Wesley Johnson dba Wannadu, LLC

World Class Guitar Music by Wayne Wesley Johnson

Wayne Wesley Johnson: World Class Guitar Music

by RoseMary Diaz

Wayne Wesley Johnson is a fine guitarist, and a fine drummer, too!
-Legendary guitarist, Les Paul

Wayne Wesley Johnson is a name synonymous with creative innovation and artistic excellence. For more than four decades Johnson has dedicated his personal vision to music, starting out as a jazz-style flat picker, exploring various styles and genres, and eventually developing his own unique signature sound. Drawing from musical principles refined by the celebrated blues and jazz legends of past and present, as well as from the time-honored melodies and spirited rhythms of classical Old World flamenco, Johnson has inspired the fusion of these very different forms of sonic expression to create a high-energy hybrid of sound and tempo that has come to be known as Jazzamenco tm, also referred to as nuevo flamenco or rumba flamenca.

Johnson's affinity with music was evident early in his life. In 1959, at the age of nine, he began studying guitar with renowned jazz artist Sandy DeVito, and remained under his instruction for almost a decade. Shortly after the commencement of these studies, Johnson founded The Yellow Jackets, a three-member band inspired by the music of Les Paul, Duane Eddy and The Ventures. Performing their own original songs, as well as top 40 and standard tunes, the group enjoyed notable success playing local venues throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, and stayed together until 1968. The following year Johnson formed a new group, Sons and Lovers, which featured a five-piece brass section and female vocals, and of course the diverse range of acoustics and percussion that came to characterize the band's personality. Covering the college and fraternity circuits throughout Johnson's home state of New Jersey, the band thrived for several years, eventually growing to include 11!
members. With a musical repertoire that included covers of Sly and the Family Stone, Three Dog Night, Blood Sweat and Tears, Chicago and Santana, Sons and Lovers appealed not only to the groove-seeking casual listener, but to the socially conscious audience of the era as well. During this time Johnson also played guitar and drums in New Jersey's Fairleigh Dickinson University-Madison Campus' jazz and concert bands, and studied with celebrated guitar greats Gary Keller, Eddie Berg and Vic Cenicola, whose innovative musical styles were influential in Johnson's early artistic development.

Shortly after college graduation, Johnson took a temporary though extended detour from his musical career to pursue the less artistic though equally demanding profession of the industrial scale business. He joined his family's New Jersey-based business and worked his way up through the ranks of floor sweeper, mechanic, truck driver, salesman and marketing VP, and eventually to CEO. He later sold his interest in the business to his brother and went on to become the CEO of a scale-manufacturing firm located in Lancaster, PA., where he served for 15 years. The firm was eventually sold to a foreign company and, as is typical in corporate restructuring, Johnson soon found himself out of a job. But time spent away from the melodic hums of the guitar and the precise punctuation of percussion did not dampen the artist's passion for making music, and his dream of returning to the genre on a more regular basis remained in tact.

After almost two decades of high-pressure, production-oriented bottom lines, Johnson decided to make his dream a reality. Trading the urban metropolis for the less hectic foothills of the Sangre de Cristo's, Johnson has in recent years become an integral part of Santa Fe's music scene. Working both as a solo artist as well as with famed classical/flamenco guitarist Ruben Romero, with whom he has collaborated extensively for several years, Johnson has mastered the complex intricacies of Spanish guitar and refined his own unique style. Together, the duo produced the exceptionally well-received collection, Hypnotic Safari, running just over 56 minutes. An emotion-filled musical journey of 11 tracks, ranging from the one-and-a-half minute Short Stories to the nearly nineteen minute extended version of the title song, the CD is a showcase of pure melodic delight and artistic perfection. The arrangements, utilizing over a dozen individual guitars including Johnson's own custom des!
igned "Fla-quinto" tm (a unique double necked flamenco guitar and requinto to add distinctive new sounds to their recordings), not only reveal the individual styles of both artists, but also demonstrate how well their different approaches to the genre come together to create an entirely new sound: infused with innovative translations of a classical art form, the collaborations of Johnson and Romero are both inspired and inspiring, and express both personal vision and mastery of the universal language of music.

Johnson's 2003 solo release, Canciones de Alma (Songs from the Soul), is an impressive compilation of fourteen titles performed with several guest artists including Nokie Edwards, Tom Doyle and Gao Hong. Rich in the familiar rhythms of rumba and classic, tradition-steeped flamenco, arrangements include the impassioned title track, and the equally so, Fire of the Gypsy, both running just over two-and-a-half minutes. Lively renditions of Walk Don't Run and Pipeline (The Ventures), featuring both electric and nylon string flamenco guitar, offer a splash of summer and surf, while Rumba Oriental incorporates the rare sound of the Chinese pipa, accompanied by Bolivian pan flute. Combining traditional thumb-, finger- and flat-picking styles with a variety of genres, including jazz, world beat and new age, the CD is a feast for the ears.

The artist's long and varied musical career has produced some of the most innovative world-class guitar compositions ever set on disk. Having shared the stage with some of the biggest talents in the business, among them BB King, Lou Pallo, Jon Paris, Chet Atkins, Thom Bresh, Scotty Moore, Tommy Emmanuel, Nokie Edwards, Mason Williams, Antonio Mendoza, George Benson, Howard Roberts, Larry Carlton, Al Caiola, Edgar Cruz, and the legendary Les Paul, who recruited Johnson's refined if little-known drumming talents for his 1979-80 tour, Johnson's history of keeping excellent company is reflective of his uncompromised skill at arranging notes and tempos into expressions of the heart and soul.

Johnson's contributions to his genre have earned him a number of honors and awards, including the Guitars for Life Award in 2001, the Soave Guitar Festival plaque (Italy), also in 2001, in recognition of his promotion of American music, and, most recently, honorary membership in the Association of Fingerstyle Guitarists (AFG). In 1999, he placed as runner-up in the dance category of the John Lennon Songwriters Contest, winning kudos for his beautiful Baile de la Paloma (Dance of the Dove), a four-and-a-half minute celebration of jazzamenco's finest hour and Johnson's musical genius.

With vast and varied and seemingly endless creative resource, Johnson has performed throughout the United States, most recently at the AFG convention in Anaheim, CA. and at the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society's annual celebration in Nashville and the Nokie Festival in Eugene, Oregon, as well as in China, Israel, Scandinavia, South America, Europe, Canada and Mexico. With CD sales-of music produced on his own label (Wannadu Productions) numbering over 70,000 in just a few years, Johnson is undoubtedly one of today's premiere guitar artists. Playing some of Santa Fe's and northern New Mexico's most popular nightlife stages, galleries, restaurants and hotels, Johnson also avails himself to a variety of other venues, including private parties, weddings and trade shows.

Residing just outside of Santa Fe with his fiancé, business partner and muse, Freda Ruiz, for whom he wrote Un poco de Elfida (A Bit of Freda, Hypnotic Safari), Johnson is one of the City Different's most important musical talents whose unique sound has become woven into the fabric of its rich musical tapestry.


"As President of the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society, it is my pleasure to recommend Wayne Wesley Johnson as a fine guitarist and a fine entertainer. He has performed at our annual convention for over six years in Nashville, Tennessee. He is accomplished in several styles of music, including jazz, world, new age, flamenco, finger-style & thumb-style playing in the Atkins/Travis style. His unique compositions combine the worlds of jazz and nuevo flamenco (Jazzamenco tm). I hope you have an opportunity soon to invite Wayne Wesley Johnson to perform his music for you."
--Mark Pritcher, President CAAS Chet Atkins Appreciation Society, Knoxville, TN

Canciones del alma by Wayne Wesley Johnson "conjures the musical spirits of Carlos Santana, The Ventures, and Paco DeLucia...Wayne Wesley Johnson is essential listening for guitar enthusiasts"
--20th Century Guitar Magazine

"Canciones del alma" Songs from the Soul by Wayne Wesley Johnson is the most significant recording to come out of New Mexico in years...this is a guitarist you need to know about."
-Matthew Andrae resident staff guitarist Inn at Loretto Santa Fe, New Mexico

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Do you have any idea where i can get the music for Wayne Johnson's "Arrowhead"...juts the guitar part wil do. Please get in touch if you can help me.
Thanks, Rach xx

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