Hometown: Asheville, NC
Genres: Appalachian Soul
Members: Paul Johnson, Keith Minguez
Johnson's Crossroad has been described by friends and fans as everything from "Appalachian Soul" to "Hillbilly Metal." The new album 'Mockingbird' puts songwriter Paul Johnson squarely in line with names like Guy Clark or Zac Brown and his powerful voice evokes memories of folk stars like Tom Waits, Taj Mahal or Burl Ives. The sincerity of his songs and simplicity of his lyrics make you want to pour a brew, put your feet up or head to the hills. Johnson's Crossroad makes you remember what is important in life.
"I like to keep the words simple," said Paul Johnson. "I try and follow Hank Williams as much as possible, let the words tell the story and the music back it up," Johnson said. His inspiration is simple yet intently focused. "I was born in the mountains of West Virginia, I've always been in the mountains all my life," said Johnson who now calls Asheville, NC home. A dark power, like the steep slope on the backside of a ravine, where the water tumbles down, seeps into his songs and gives the simplicity of his words the strength of a freight train running through a mountain pass. Dobro, mandolin and fiddle back up his clean lyrics on some, other times its simple finger picking to a folksong.
"This is what I've always wanted to do, travel around and pick guitar," said Johnson, who writes the majority of the songs for Johnson's Crossroad. Watching his back is mandolin player Keith Minguez, a strong friendship at the core of the group. As they drove across the long ridge to the Blue Ridge Big Sky Music studio (appropriately topping a peak above Moravian Falls, N.C) to record their new album, a few pair of mockingbirds flew up in front of the car and the omen solidified the new project's name.
"In 1998 I met Paul and I saw John Hartford on my first visit to MerleFest, it was life changing" said Minguez. Then in 2004 he had enough, "I was 30, living in Florida, drinking with my dad's buddies and they all said the same thing, 'drink scotch and water and never stop chasing your dream." He called Paul and in 13 hours was at his door with mandolin in hand. "If Keith wasn't around nothing would get done," laughed Johnson. Friends Corey Lee McQuade (Dobro, banjo, harmonies) and Moses Atwood (keyboard, Dobro, harmonies) sat in on multiple gigs, other friends join in support Johnson's constant search for great sound.
Years playing the road to empty rooms has mostly passed. Their first CD "Blood in Black and White" put them on the map and won them spots at national events like Merlefest, Floyd Fest, Music City Roots and Bristol Rhythm and Roots, with tours to the northeast and Midwest. 2011 brings them squarely in line for success with return appearances at major festivals, over 150 shows and a world of mountains ahead to climb. Filled with roots, bluegrass, folk, Appalachian old time, blues and more, their music is none of those in the end, creating instead the highly recognizable sound of Johnson's Crossroad. The new Johnson's Crossroad CD 'Mockingbird' is now available on CD Baby, iTunes and other major outlets.