Johnny Dickinson
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Johnny Dickinson

Newcastle, N Ireland, United Kingdom | INDIE

Newcastle, N Ireland, United Kingdom | INDIE
Band Folk Acoustic


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Cambridge Folk Festival Review"

Northumberland’s Johnny Dickinson was arguably the act that left the strongest impression. Crowds grew significantly with each performance he made. He had the Cambridge faithful hankering for more of the likes of his songs, ‘Beach Road’ and ‘Waiting For The Whistle’. So impressive was his well rounded vocals and dazzling work on slide guitar - his CDs were sold-out at the Proper record stand.

October 2005 - Get Rhythm

"English Summer Review"

I first experienced Johnny Dickinson in the incomprable 'Hillbillies From Outer Space' who are well inside my top ten live bands of all time - if he could stand out as a barnstorming guitarist in that squad he was worth twenty others - but it was always obvious that Johnny had lots more to offer. 'English Summer' is a beautifully written and crafted, subtle and restrained album. On first listening nothing leaps out and grabs you by the throat, but it will quickly capture your heart by deception and stealth. This isn't a summer of candy floss and fairgrounds, Johnny's laid-back vocals and melancholy blues influenced folk songs (or should it be the other way round?) reveal a real English Summer, with the emotional barometer falling toward sadness and times lost, never to be regained. The album states its intentions with the beautiful intro to 'Into The Deep'. J.D's vocal style gives away little of his Nortumbrian roots, but many of his themes and sounds go straight back in time to the Border Ballads. 'Matter of Time' is enhanced by John McKusker's evocative Low Whistle and the elegant backing vocals of Chris and Kellie While. Indeed, they say you can tell a man by the company he keeps and J.D's assembled group includes the very respected Neil Harland on upright and electric bass, Dave Thomlinson on Wurlitzer piano and Hammond organ and Keith Angel on percussion. Highlights for me include 'If I Could Only' with its subtle hook that drives straight into your heart, the growing oriental theme of 'Map Of The World' and 'Hold Back The Tide' - a melancholy lament of someone who has loved and lost. A very adult, reflective set of songs for real people, English Summer is well worth the price of admission.

Peter Dixon (The Informer Magazine) - The Informer

"English Summer Review"

If Johnny Dickinson isn't already known in the States, he will be if this album gets the attention it truly deserves. The Northumbrian native has a thriving career in the UK, receiving kudos from other legendary players such as John Renbourn and Tommy Emmanuel. Aside from Dickinson's reputation at home as a great slide and lap-steel player, the songs move effortlessly from folk to blues to Americana, with each genre as natural to his own style as the next. Tasteful production enhances Dickinson's songwriting, easing the listener into his well constructed, yet easy-going musical world.

English Summer begins with a sampling of Johnny's heralded bottleneck playing in "Into The Deep", immediately establishing a roots vibe, complemented by his confident and resonent vocals. With just a touch of well-placed subtle harmony, this first track immediately begs the question to the first time listener "Who is this guy and where has he been?" From here Dickinson gently moves into "Sacred Tree" and surprisingly his vocals and style echo early Bruce Cockburn. But it was the third song, "Matter Of Time", that truly hooked me in, invoking his country's beautiful signature folk style of the 70's that whispers at Sandy Denny's spirit in the harmony. The song haunted me and kept me returning to the CD over and over. With electric slide in the background, flute (or low whistle) and a hint of percussion, I was sold with its intoxicating and subtle groove.

English Summer continues to delight as it moves through the next nine tracks. The guitar sounds are recorded beautifully - wheter acoustic or slide, the vocals are both intimate and present, and the album celebrates and spans the breadth of Dickinson's talent with this treasure of a release. - KE - Sing Out! (USA)

"English Summer Review"

'English Summer' is a collection of self-penned songs (Oh, and one delightful instrumental, 'Tinker Box') and let me declare at the outset that I enjoyed it. Good, simple songs, a terrific 'Smokey' voice with a bluesy feel and some wonderful guitar picking.

Phil Thomas - The Living Tradition - September 2005

"Castles & Old Kings Review"


“The Most Potent Slide Player in the UK”. I first saw Johnny Dickinson perform solo in the classic folk club setting - the upstairs room in a pub on a cold Sunday night not a mile from the North Sea coast. Two things struck me that night. Firstly, his guitar tone was immaculate; a fine, precise, shimmering presence which was at once spooky and sparse! The second thing was the languid, full-ranged vocal style, which hinted at rock rather than folk origins but had a timeless, earthy quality. Whereas the lower register was reminiscent of Paul Rodgers and Lowell George this guy had an effortless country yodel, too!

Of course, he did not acquire such technique overnight. A life of gigging around the country with a variety of bands had polished his innate skills. From his own local band, Splitcrow, he became a founder member of Paul Lamb & the Kingsnakes then, two years later he formed the wildly eclectic Hillbillies From Outer Space. All three had their roots in Johnny’s native Northumberland but he also had a spell in the London-based Western Swing outfit, the Moonshine Boys.

Anyway, forget the history for it is the present and future, which will occupy the thoughts of this laid-back yet totally aware musician. When this CD - recorded in the late summer of 2002 - was ready for release Johnny was recently recovered from a year-long illness and it is almost as if the period of contemplation which goes with protracted inactivity gave him the impetus to try his own writing alongside some traditional material from the folk repertoire. Originals like Beach Road, Something in the Breeze and Simple Life in particular are, to these ears, classic minimalist works, which are grounded, like the composer himself, in his home county. Feel the wind and hear it howl through the glass-slide on the pinkie of his left hand ! The title track, needless to say, could be a latter day Northumbrian anthem as well as a depiction of the magnetic pull of the USA during his formative years.

Familiar folk favourites She Moved Through The Fair and Black Jack Davy are tastefully re-worked but Jock 0’ Hazeldene gets a quirky make-over (and tempo change) which shows he is not afraid to take a risk or two! The instrumental tracks have an instant (and lasting) appeal and The Strayaway Child, with its Moorish intro and Celtic melody, exemplify his eclecticism.

Live, as I discovered on that cold Sunday night, Johnny Dickinson is likely to show you a whole lot more than this, too! More originals, certainly and his own renditions of songs by Willie Dixon, Hank Williams and K.C.Douglas - among others - prove how deep his well is. Grab a bucketful and it will invigorate you for a long time.

Alan Nichol (Newcastle Evening Chronicle)

- Newcastle Evening Chronicle

"Pleasance Theatre, Edinburgh"

Johnny Dickinson ***
Edinburgh Pleasance Theatre

AMBLE, in Northumberland, is a very long way from America’s Deep South, so it would be hard to describe the bottleneck slide playing of Johnny Dickinson, one of that seaside town’s sons, as authentic. Until you hear it, that is.

Dickinson stepped unassumingly onstage ready to impress the folk-hardened audience at The Pleasance last night with an odd yet perfect mix of delta blues, Celtic airs and, no kidding, Japanese and Middle-Eastern melodies, all on slide guitar.

If this had been an edition of The Old Grey Whistle Test, broadcast on national TV, Dickinson would be a guitar hero by tea-time tomorrow.

As it is, he’ll just have to travel the length of the country gently playing his "twists and bends" and singing with his rich, addictive voice to a few hundred at a time until he finally gets the recognition he deserves (Martin Lenon)
- The Scotsman

"Border Ballads Review"

Johnny Dickinson – Border Ballads (Mawson & Wareham Music MWMCDSP63)

“Praise be”…a CD with something new to offer! Now, I’m not going to say this album will be to everyone’s taste but if you’re looking for something strikingly different I think you’ll be hard pushed to find it. Johnny Dickinson is a great singer who hails from Northumbria and he wears this accolade with his heart on his sleeve. He draws on his knowledge of the area by combining lyrics from A C Swinburne’s collection of Border Ballads with his own tunes and in doing so treads where no man has trod before (at least to my knowledge). Unlike say Bob Fox who takes a more commercial (OK ‘folky’) approach utilising the original melodies Johnny comes in from a totally different tack and in doing so has more in common with say Alan Hull in his Pipedream period. In fact I could almost hear a touch of Kenny Craddock in the arrangements. Now my reason for drawing your attention to this is to give the layman a better perspective of where (at least to me) the album falls when trying to compare it. There are several standout tracks on the album but for me it has to be ‘The Jolly Beggar’ with its quirky re-interpretation set to a waltz and read instead of sung. So you can forget your Jack The Lad treatment with its jolly-up cheerfulness and instead listen with new ears and a treatment that would do The Bonzo Dog Doo-Daa Band proud. As I said opening up this review this is the kind of recording that will prove startling not least because it’s fresh and exciting like the first time you came across Steve Earle or Ry Cooder. For me personally – it’s blow away! Further info from (Pete Fyfe)


"Border Ballads Review"


Tyneside singer and guitarist follows up the acclaimed Castles & Old Kings with a sure-footed journey deeper into his Northumbrian roots. Dickinson had always been in bands with the likes of Paul Lamb, Moonshine Boys and Hillbillies From Outer Space, but choosing a solo career after recovering from a long illness has been the making of him. There's a delicious ease about his slide guitar playing and his strong blues grounding allows him to approach the border ballads of the title from an entirely different angle. It starts of with the simmering atmospherics of a Ry Cooder soundtrack and quickly settles into a relaxed rhythm to restructure some potent traditional material. There are particularly good versions of Lyke Wake Dirge and Jolly Beggar, though it's Dickinson's sure touch that creates the beautifully relaxed feel that gently lures you into its clutches. An album of understatement and intrigue. (Colin Irwin) - MOJO UK


Castles & Old Kings (CD)
Border Ballads (CD)
Live in Concert (DVD)
English Summer (CD)



“The Most Potent Slide Player in the UK”
"I'd go a long way to listen to Johnny Dickinson. You hear a lot of good influences in his music but the result is something special. For me his playing really hits the spot." John Renbourn
"Johnny is a soulful player, singer, and a damn good writer! Don´t miss him!" Tommy Emmanuel

Johnny Dickinson's music career got off to a dream start with his Northumbrian band Splitcrow when Kerrang magazine said that their first album Rockstorm, which reached no. 19 in the Gallup Rock Charts, was "the best album from a Brit band in 10 years" with critic Xavier Russell stating that Johnny Dickinson was "the most potent slide player in the UK". Unfortunately, like so many other bands, they split up prematurely in 1986.

After a spell playing pedal-steel with London's Western Swing outfit, The Moonshine Boys, in 1988 Johnny became a founder member of Paul Lamb and the Kingsnakes, playing and singing alongside Jim McCarty, Top Topham, Rod Demmick and Johnny Whitehill, who remains a member of the band. During Johnny's two years with the band they were winners of many British and International Blues awards. After giving his all to the Kingsnakes, John treaded the boards as a solo artist for a while. He was offered a recording contract with Demon Records but as he thought they were looking for a 'blues' album he declined, having decided to move in a different direction - back north to his native Northumberland.

In 1993, in Alnwick, Northumberland the Hillbillies From Outer Space were born. The band gained near legendary status with their wild interpretations of material ranging from heavy metal to folk. It was a sad day indeed when they wrapped things up in 2001 without ever having recorded an album. From New York rap versions of 'Voodoo Chile’ to punk versions of 'Werewolves of London', the band always guaranteed a full house and 'big fun' wherever they were booked.

2001 was also the year when Johnny's long awaited solo album would be recorded and released. He had developed a unique individual style of playing which crossed Celtic flavours with American Blues. Reminiscent, sometimes of Kelly Joe Phelps, and sometimes of Martin Simpson, he recorded demos at home for the project, but an illness kept him sidelined for the next 12 months. It was August 2002 before he was well enough to start recording sessions, with 'Castles & Old Kings' being the result of the time spent at Newcastle's re-furbished Cluny Studios. The 'year out' had given Johnny time to reflect on life, love and everything resulting in an album of subtle songs, deft slide playing and minimal arrangements that mirrored the time. Since releasing this first album, Johnny has spent his time concentrating on furthering his rapidly expanding solo career. Highlights of 2003 included appearances at both The Purcell Room and Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, and a live Radio 2 Broadcast along with Loudon Wainwright III. In December 2003, it was announced that Johnny had been nominated for a prestigious Radio Two Horizon Award, and as a result was featured as a main guest on The Mike Harding Show in January 2004. His name also featured on the list of Most Promising Artists for 2004 on Channel 4’s Teletext service. He is currently busy promoting second CD release, English Summer, and has recently been an integral part of the much talked about ‘Northumbrian Anthology’ project, releasing an acclaimed album “Border Ballads” as a commission for the project. 2004 also saw him working and touring alongside other great Artists: Tommy Emmanuel, Jan Akkerman, John Martyn, Jerry Donahue and Kelly Joe Phelps. His touring plans now, are to work predominantly as a solo artist, but will, on occasion, be joined by Fin McArdle on percussion and Neil Harland on Double Bass. The two main session players from his debut recording. During November 2005, it was announced that Johnny has been nominated as ‘Best Musician’ in the 2006 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards!