SHARING HISTORY THROUGH MUSIC

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A GUMBO OF AMERICAN MUSIC & FOLK LORE

In addition to being a master of American acoustic blues guitar and singing styles, Johnny is a masterful storyteller.

 


SCHOOL/COMMUNITY PROGRAMS

 

 

THE JOURNEY FOR FREEDOM AND EQUALITY

 

 

For more than 100 years, history books have largely ignored the positive contributions of Black Americans. During slavery and the decades following the Civil War, literacy was quite low among Black Americans. The history of Afro-Americans was preserved entirely via the oral tradition - through songs and stories.

 

Johnny Johnston presents an enjoyable and educational program for children and adults of all ages. Johnny introduces each song with a story about the historical events, folk tales or folk heroes who inspired these songs.   Johnny then applies his hot fingerpickin’ slide guitar, banjo and down home vocals to a gumbo of songs from New Orleans to North Carolina, from Charlotte to Chicago.

 

By engaging audiences with stories, folk tales and songs from the South, Johnny teaches the history of the Afro-American struggle, from the Civil War through the Civil Rights Movement.  Comments from teachers and parents include, “the students were enthralled – I don’t think they realized how much they were learning“, “what a fun way to reinforce our school curriculum”, and “that was big fun and educational, thanks” 

 

The Perfect Program for Black History Month or any other time of the year!





 


CHILDREN’S SONGS

 

Have you ever been curious about where those children’s songs that we all know by heart come from?  The origins almost always lie in American and British folks songs and folk tales. 

 

Johnny Johnston applies his “hot fingerpickin’ slide guitar, banjo and down home vocals” to an entertaining program of children’s songs and stories about the events and people that form the origins of these classic children’s songs.  This program provides opportunities for all ages to participate and sing along. Examples will include:

 

·        You are my Sunshine – The Louisiana State Song and a huge country hit for Jimmy Davis, the governor of Louisiana.

 

·        Skip to My Lou - A “partner stealing” dance from America's frontier period. Couples would dance around a lone male who sang, "lost my partner, what'll I do?” He would then "steal" the partner of a dancing man as he sang "I'll find another one prettier than you." The displaced man would take his place in the circle.

 

·        The Alphabet Song – The melody for this popular song was composed by Mozart!

 

·        Jimmy Cracked Corn – President Lincoln used to play this song on his harmonica.


 

A PERFECT PROGRAM FOR YOUNG CHILDREN & PARENTS



 


TRAIN SONGS, STORIES AND FOLK TALES

 

The train is a common theme in American folklore and folk songs.  Johnny Johnston applies his hot fingerpickin’ slide guitar and down home vocals to an informative and delightful program of train songs.  Johnny introduces each song with a story about the colorful characters who wrote these songs and the historical events, folk tales and folk heroes who inspired these songs.   Examples include:

 

·        Casey Jones – In the early 1900’s, train engineers were heroes; the most famous engineer was Casey Jones. “The ballad of Casey Jones” is the most recorded ballad in American History.

 

·        John Henry –John Henry could do the work of 3 men. The story provides insight into post-Civil War history and man’s ability to push himself to the limit to achieve goals.

 

·        Freight Train – This beautiful song was composed by the daughter of a 1920’s sharecropper and expresses the longing to ride the train to the northern promised-land. 

 

  • Sweet Home Chicago – This song tells a story of the greatest internal migration in US history; between 1910 and 1960, eight million Americans migrated on the Central Illinois Railroad from the agricultural south to northern industrial cities such as Chicago.

 

A PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN & ADULTS OF ALL AGES



 


To find out more information or to schedule a performance, please email Johnny at: jbluesjohnston@hotmail.com


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