Hometown: Asheville, NC
Label: independant, Dirty Boogie Records
Management: The L.A.M.A Agency
Sounds Like: Tom Waits, Mumford and Sons, Grateful Dead, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings
Johnson's Crossroad has been described by friends and fans as everything from Appalachian Soul" to "Hillbilly Metal." The band blends blues, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, and Appalachian Old Time for a sound that The Daily Times’ Steve Wildsmith calls “both mournful and jubilant, breezy and graveyard serious.” He goes on to comment that frontman Paul Johnson’s voice “barely rises above a growl, but he stretches that sound to encompass the experience of a train-hopping hobo and the wisdom of an old man recalling loves lost and wars fought from the porch of a backwoods cabin.” Their 2011 album Mockingbird puts songwriter Paul Johnson in line with names like Guy Clark or Zac Brown and his powerful voice evokes memories of folk stars like Taj Mahal or Burl Ives. The Wilmington Star News describes, “It's gruff and easygoing, like a mix of Tom Waits and Ben Knox Miller of The Low Anthem.“ AmericanaUK exclaims, “With ‘Mockingbird’ Johnson’s Crossroad seem to have just proved themselves to be one of the finest Roots rockers around right now.” The album was voted the #7 Regional albums of 2012 by WNCW! The sincerity of Johnson’s songs and simplicity of his lyrics make you want to pour a brew, put your feet up or head to the hills. Asheville’s Bold Life call the band a “treat to see live” and says that, “Paul Johnson has a knack for creating powerful visuals with straightforward lyrics.” Dobro, mandolin and fiddle back up Johnson’s clean lyrics on some, other times its simple finger picking to a folksong. "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.
"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. "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) sit in on variety of gigs, and often other friends join in support Johnson's constant search for great sound. The band is returning to Blue Ridge Big Sky Music Studio (appropriately topping a peak above Moravian Falls, NC) to record their 3rd album in 2012. Who could resist after the experience they had last time around? It’s where they are comfortable, it’s where everything is comfortable. Making music with friends, fans and family. At the studio, it’s a drive to the county line to get a little cell reception and distraction is not so digital, just where they want to be. JXR is looking for an early 2013 release and will be spending time over the summer and fall getting the next one just right, again working with John Adair as Engineer and Producer. Since their first album Blood in Black and White they’ve won spots at national events like Merlefest, Floyd Fest, Music City Roots and Bristol Rhythm and Roots, with tours to the Northeast and Midwest that continue throughout 2012. Years playing the road to empty rooms have passed. Johnson’s Crossroad travels on with over 150 shows and a world of mountains ahead to climb.
“Moving between folk, bluegrass, blues and soul, Johnson’s voice is versatile and emotive, and its rough, unrestrained rumble benefits from an exceptionally clear recording that will keep you coming back to the album, exploring the depth of his voice and its intimidating yet endearing quality.”
Joseph Chapman - Mountain Express
“Paul Johnson's voice is surprisingly powerful, bringing to mind singers like Tom Waits, Kenny Rogers or Taj Mahal. Frontman and songwriter for the band Johnson's Crossroad, his songs are simple but clear, oozing with dark mountain feelings and catchy lyrics.”
Carol Rifkin - Citizen-Times
“There are moments during this new album from Carolina’s Johnson’s Crossroad that you have to remind yourself that you’re actually listening to an acoustic band. That’s because on a number of great moments here, Johnson’s Crossroad rock so damn hard, often with a Stones-like swagger, that you almost don’t notice they’re not plugged in.”
Ian Fildes - Americana-UK
“These guys have exploded in popularity since their last album, and listening to Mockingbird, it's easy to see that that popularity is not only well-deserved, but not a fluke.”
Brent Fleury - Bold Life Magazine
“Johnson's Crossroad isn't specifically a bluegrass band. Their songs have as much strength in bluegrass as the aesthetics of Americana, Country music and small flourishes of The Grateful Dead.”
Brian Tucker - StarNews
“Johnson’s voice barely rises above a growl, but he stretches that sound to encompass the experience of a train-hopping hobo and the wisdom of an old man recalling loves lost and wars fought from the porch of a backwoods cabin.”
Steve Wildsmith - The Daily Times
“Paul Johnson doesn’t sound so much like he’s been round the block a few times, he sounds like he helped design and build the block.”
Ian Fildes - Americana UK
“If this album was a few decades old, I'd swear these guys came up with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings. Can one be both Americana and Outlaw at the same time? Maybe so.”
Brent Fleury - Bold Life Magazine
“The band has an easy feel about them. There’s no push, no stress. Band members breeze through the strains of old country and bluegrass, punctuated by Johnson’s distinctively gruff voice.”
Jason Sandford - Mountain Xpress
“Johnson, who writes most of the band's songs…looks like a mountain and sings like a man, or, if you prefer, vice versa. Johnson's got one of those voices that's like a revelation. Simultaneously gruff, scratchy and sensitive, it contains echoes of Tom Waits or maybe a more countrified Howlin' Wolf”
John Staton - Star News
“Johnson's Crossroad is Americana with more than a passing nod to bluegrass, but this band is not nearly as concerned with genre as it is with musicianship.”
Alli Marshall - Mountain Xpress
"Fittingly, the bearded and burly guitarist sang the band's keening ballads about whiskey and love and lonely itinerants in his distinctively deep and gruff voice. The group's authentic brand of Americana glided on the gossamer wings of Keith Minguez's agile mandolin."
David Hiltbrand - Philadelphia Inquirer
"This is the sound of today's Appalachian music."
Viktorija Krulikas - Mountain Xpress