Annie Johnson Band
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Annie Johnson Band

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"Here We Are"

Reviewed by Bear
Volume X Issue V of the PAGANET
July 2003

Indie (Industrial & Electronic Pop) Rock performer and fellow Pagan, Annie Johnson has done Virginia proud with her recent album (2002), “Here We Are.”

A native of Huntington, West Virginia, and later spouse to a military man prone to lots of reassignments to new duty stations, Annie has lived all over the US and even in England for a while. Later abandoning her commitments to being an Air Force wife, she dove into her first love, music. Playing guitar since age 12 and later enhancing her skills with more classical training, Annie is pretty much self-taught (with a little help, by her own admission from listening to Heart’s “Dreamboat Annie”). She even managed to earn a BA in English while playing and singing – certainly no simple feat – and moved to the Hampton Roads area to stay in 1993.

Surprised by her recent successes, Annie admits to being initially so nervous on stage that she barely managed to control her shaking hands enough to play guitar. Not into joining the superstardom world of musical divas, Annie is quite content doing Open Mic Nights and seeing familiar faces in the audience, or as she puts it, “hanging out with kindred souls.”

Married to bass player J. Morales (who, when he first joined the group was unable to play bass!), Annie is also supported by the additional talents of the Annie Johnson Band (formed in 1999): Thom Singleton, who joins Annie on guitar and vocals; Chuck Freeman on drums and vocals; and of course Morales, who has now learned to hold his own playing bass.

Voted Best Acoustic/Folk Artist of the Year (2002) for Hampton Roads, VA by readers of Ninevolt Magazine, Annie has appeared at a number of local Southeastern Virginia’s popular nightspots and has a bevy of additional contest awards to back up her contributions to her genre. She has accompanied such groups as Costy L, Toast, Everville, Garden II, Lost Again, the Rockinghams & Undertow. Presenting a vocal range reminiscent of Joplin, Collins, and Baez, Annie adds a special trill that softens her messages via a hint of innocence as opposed of the overt bitterness of many 60’s balladeers.
All accomplished musicians, AJB alchemically synthesizes warm and pleasing tapestries, which produce an end result worthy of addition to all CD collectors who appreciate sincere talent. AJB’s albums & singles are available from as well as Fantasy, where she has also performed (Newport News, see ad in this issue of PNN), as well as other locations listed on their website. Ranging from folk (“Anything Goes”) to blues (“Green”), from psych to punk to contemporary rock (“Jump Right In”), AJB leaves little room for vanilla flavored music.

For those of you local to Hampton Roads, Virginia, you can see the AJB at such places as the Hampton Block Party (Aug. 2) & Goodfellas (Sept. 20) in Hampton, VA.

- Paganet

"Homegrown Talent"

From "Homegrown Talent"
by Sam McDonald
the DAILY PRESS, Sunday December 1, 2002
Annie Johnson - Here We Are

Newport News rocker Annie Johnson has never lacked ambition. Her previous discs tapped some of the top players and producers in the area with solid results. Those discs featured Johnson's softer acoustic side as well as her more raucous, electric material. "Here We Are" is a mixture of those elements - but with better results. Again, she employs top-notch performers and a skilled production team. Working at Windmark Studios in Virginia Beach, she's created a sound that's rich and full. In pure audio quality, Johnson's disc can match most anything heard on the radio. But the compositions are what make "Here We Are" a step forward for Johnson.

Tunes including the brooding "Self-Medication" and the excellent "Green" reveal a new level of sophistication -- melodically and lyrically. The standout track "Jimmy Stewart" is about disillusionment and broken dreams, "Jimmy Stewart made you believe in angels," Johnson sings. "Jimmy Stewart made you believe in honest politicians. Now you feel you don't belong here."

A big fan of 1970s rock bands like Heart and Aerosmith, Johnson has always combined some of the bombast of that era with the modern spunk of songwriters like Tori Amos and Alanis Morissette. On "Here We Are," the marriage sounds natural, even exciting.
Grade A
- Daily Press

"Boppin' The Blues"

Friday, September13, 2002 by Sam McDonald.

Last month, Hampton's Goodfellas club sponsored a battle-of-the-bands-style contest called Blues-a-palooza.

The finalists were the Annie Johnson Band, the Rhythm Pigs, and Mike Proffitt Band.

The winner was the Annie Johnson Band, which impressed judges with energy, style, and originality. Johnson penned much of the material performed at the Blues-a-palooza event. The group also unearthed a glowing version of the R&B nugget "Fever."

- Daily Press


from Ninevolt issue #41 - June 28, 2000 - Review by Mike Connolly

It's tempting to compare Annie Johnson with Suzanne Vega and Tori Amos. All three have strong lyrical stories on top of even stronger melodies. But that's unfair because Johnson is a powerful and unique songwriter and performer in her own right.

"Trust You," the lead track, has Johnson waiting to be betrayed at any minute ("Lover, enemy always look the same to me.") You can feel the paranoia by the end of the cut. "Reminiscing" starts with a jazzy, bluesy sax (courtesy of Eddie Williams) followed by Johnson in her best torch singer voice -- something a little different than we're used to, but nicely done. Williams contributes to several tracks on the second half of the disc.

Although most of this disc is dark and introspective, "Skinny Girl" is by far the most forceful and disturbing. And memorable. ("They didn't get her drunk enough/She still remembers!!")

Pick this up at local stores or at one of Johnson's shows. - Ninevolt


posted May 8, 2000

Artist: Annie Johnson
CD: "Sybil" (Shy Grrrl)
By: Erik Deckers

Intro/general thoughts: I've been doing this writing gig long enough to wonder who was going to be my first repeat review, and as luck would have it, it's Annie Johnson the folk musician from Newport News, Virginia, who I had the privilege of reviewing when I first started this gig. I got her disc, and with deep anticipation, put her CD into my stereo.

What I heard was not what I expected. On her debut CD, "Letters from L.A." Johnson had created a Sixties sounding CD that was as reminiscent of The Doors as it was Kate Bush. But she floored me with her follow-up CD, "Sybil."

This album is a far cry from her more relaxed, almost folksy sounds that fans of her CD are familiar with. Johnson is plugged in, turned on, and kicks some serious ass -- we've gone from Joan Baez to Joan Jett, and truth be told, I really liked it. It's usually difficult for artists to switch between genres, let alone styles within their own genre, but Johnson actually manages to explore new musical arenas, and still keeps in touch with her old style.

Type of Music: Modern Rock
Hometown: Newport New, Virginia
Notable: Terry Burrell joins Johnson on bass, and Andy Payne pounds out some serious beats throughout the whole album. She calls them, and her other musicians, "some of the best in Hampton Roads."

Highs: Right in the middle of the album, Johnson erupts into an angry burst of energy, complete with Joe Satriani-style screaming guitar -- she played it herself -- on "Skinny Girl," before bringing it back down with "Angel."

Another high: Johnson's "Letters" was only 34 minutes, but she more than made up with it on "Sybil," giving the listener over a solid hour of great music.

Lows: I have no complaints with this CD whatsoever, which is pretty uncommon for me. And maybe I can make that my complaint: there is nothing wrong with this album, and I have nothing to nitpick.

Favorite Lines: I couldn't tell you who Timothy is, but you have to feel sorry for him in "Timothy Dreams."

Timothy dreams of peace
Instead of the chaos inside of him
He can't calm down the shaking inside
He can't push the pictures out of his mind &
Timothy screams when Timothy dreams.

Fans: If you like Alana Miles, Melissa Etheridge, or even Annie Johnson's first album, be sure to add "Sybil" to your collection.

Foes: If you like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, or Celine Dion, don't even bother.

Indie-Notes: CD cover and artwork is professionally done, and the photo is striking. The photo on the inside cover of the angel statue I assume is for the song by the same title. One of the few CD covers I've seen where the photos actually match up with the mood of the music.

Summary: Lyrically and melodically, this whole album is a dark departure from the nearly-happy go lucky sounds of "Letters from L.A." but Johnson is just so good at what she does that the departure is more than forgiven, it's celebrated. However, it makes me wonder what she'll come up with next. I'm afraid I'm going to have to draw the line at a Sex Pistols cover album. . .


"Rites & Wrongs"

Written by Susan Rosen for Pulp Radio magazine. October 1997,
issue #26, Vol.III #10.
A talent like this is about as rare as MTV actually showing music videos. She's amazing! Practically a "one man band," she mesmerizes anyone who hears her. She's been playing around the local circuit for the last few years winning contests with her acoustic guitar, as well as banging her head around in a few local bands. Now she's gone to L.A. Before she left, I was lucky enough to get a copy of Rites & Wrongs, and I'm SO glad I did! It's mellow, yet enchanting. It's the kind of stuff that makes me want to light candles when I play it, especially on a rainy night. Even the heavier stuff is hypnotic. Pretty soon everyone in Los Angeles will know Annie's name, and then I hope the whole country will!
- Pulp Radio Magazine

"L.A. Confidential"

Written by Sam McDonald for the 10/23/98 issue of the Daily Press. L.A.CONFIDENTIAL.
Newport News singer-songwriter Annie Johnson spent a few months inside the rough-and-tumble Los Angeles music scene, and she lived to tell--even sing--about it. Her new disc, "Letters From L.A.," is an ambitious album of acoustic alternative rock. It's packed with songs inspired by her experiences navigating the seedy streets of Hollywood.

Johnson got help from several hot local musicians: Terry Burrell, mainly a jazzer, played upright acoustic bass on the disc. Jeff Owens played drums. Steven Rayburn contributed sleek sax lines.

Burrell's acoustic bass--in particular--lends unusual texture to Johnson's compositions.

Johnson has been knocking around the Hampton Roads music scene for a few years now. But her eight months in California seem to have brought new focus to her style. Her singing voice on "Letters From L.A." mixes Alana Davis' pop soulfulness with a splash of Tori Amos-like eccentricity. - Daily Press


Letters From L.A. (1998)
Sybil (2000)
Here We Are (2002)


Feeling a bit camera shy


What's an AJB show like? Annie & Thom are jumping around from the first note, hair flying, guitars wailing. This band enjoys every second on stage, they love playing together, and the crowd feels every bit of it.

The Annie Johnson Band has been together since 1999, and they've been through thick & thin together. They've played every kind of gig imaginable, and over the years they have perfected their sound: melodic hard rock with a punk edge at times.

A nice surprise in recent years has been the requests for originals coming from the audience. The internet has taken Annie's original songs all over the world, so even when the AJB plays a town they've never been to before, they can see the audience singing along.