Johnnye Allee
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Johnnye Allee

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE | AFTRA

Los Angeles, California, United States | INDIE | AFTRA
Band Folk Acoustic


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"CD Review"

Unless It Isn't, L.A.-based singer/songwriter Johnnye Allee's debut, presents songcraft with cinematic touches, intricate, original melodies and winning vocal performances by this former ASCAP Sammy Cahn award-winning songwriter...Listen to his epic tune "On The Kern County Line."

Dan Kimpel, October 2007 - Music Connection

"CD Review"

"Johnnye Allee's "Unless It Isn't," will really get your attention ... It's Johnnye's debut recording ... but Allee is no novice."

September 2007 - Stacy's Music Row Report

"CD Review"

Johnnye Allee's debut album, "Unless It Isn't," flaunts visual lyrics and soulful acoustic piano and guitar. Allee likens himself to Paul Simon and Lyle Lovett, and actually is a fair blend of the two musicians. However, I find he sounds more like the latter, with his polished piano and guitar bits that recall Lovett's delicate country twang.

The songs "On The Kern County Line" and "Half On The Side of The Leaver" resurrect the velvety smooth country sounds heard on Lovett's album "Pontiac". On "Half On The Side of The Leaver," the dripping guitar and tender lyrics bring the soulful into play, his voice mellow and distinct. "On The Kern County Line" brings a more folk/country feel with a tinkering piano and lyrics that summon an image of a long stretch of country road.

"Another New York Knockout" and "I Love You Like This" recall a soft Paul Simon melody, both sweet and melancholy.

The album conjures a charming country feel with most of the songs upbeat and folk.

August 2007 -

"Johnnye Allee Profile & CD Review"

Singer/songwriter and librettist—the two descriptions are seemingly at odds with each other. “I’ve always had this duality of theater and music,” explains Los Angeles resident Johnnye Allee. “At times it’s been a struggle and other times it’s been a blessing.” With his solo debut, Unless It Isn’t, Allee reveals a stunning suite of songs that acknowledges his theatrical history and honors his metamorphosis into a modern-day troubadour.

Originally from Scarsdale, N.Y., as a teenager Allee spent his free time exploring Manhattan until his family relocated to Los Angeles. “It was a life-severing moment,” he recalls. “I think it gave me a certain type of empathy…I was in love with a girl, had a circle of friends and was devoted to the theater. I’ve always been immersed in Broadway show tunes or modern folk: Dylan, Arlo Guthrie and Joni Mitchell—the music my parents listened to.”

In terms of structure, Allee notes that his touchstones are traditional. “The old timers…Frank Loesser, George Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart…they’ve totally informed me as songwriter. With this album, I was interested in honoring the history of American songs, but doing it in a popular vernacular and getting away from musical theater. Still, I’m a piano player. I’ve also been a huge jazz fan my entire life. People hear me at the piano and they think I’m a cabaret performer. So I thought, ‘Let’s throw in some guitars and hear what happens.’”

Rockabilly rhythms lift “Everything Will Be Alright,” and a deep D-tuned guitar casts a spooky shadow over the “Fire is Yellow,” a harrowing tale of murder and arson. On “Half on the Side of the Leaver,” a bluesy 3/4 groove slides a full helping of steamy Southern Soul across the table, while “I’m the Apostrophe” personifies the narrator as a mere punctuation mark. Allee’s signature song, “On the Kern County Line,” traces a poignant highway across the dusty panorama of rural California.

There’s a crow on a fencepost
Keeping tabs on a toad
As I roll down the road
Past the gas station sign
On the Kern County Line

“The trick is getting that kind of landscape with a minimal instrumental groove,” he says.
“I wrote the title, ‘On the Kern County Line,’ on a piece of paper and three years later found it. I’m very deliberate; the lyrics come first, but always with a melody attached.”

In addition to writing for the theater, Allee has an extensive acting résumé—dating back to his first Equity role at age 15. He was in the original cast of Chaplin with Anthony Newley and other plays and musicals, including Dandelion Wine, an adaptation of the Ray Bradbury novel. “Bradbury was the first person who told me about writing on scrap paper and torn out checks,” Allee recalls. “Everytime you take a role and do a play, the research opens up a whole world. I think anyone in the theater becomes worldly pretty quickly if they’re open. Theater is primarily about language—language and ideas. Because of all this, the language informs everything I do as a writer.”

The language also informs turns of phrase in titles: “Another New York Knockout,” “Texas to Tuesday” and “Hidden in the Crosshairs.” Allee relates that fragments of sound and disconnected phrases might spark a lyric or melody. “I hear things in the wind…maybe read a line in a novel.” And he quotes Saul Bellow’s line: “A writer is a reader moved to emulation.”

To fund his far flung artistic pursuits, Allee worked as a delivery driver. “I have the sciatica to prove it.” Cramps notwithstanding, Allee has been honored with ASCAP’s prized Sammy Cahn Award. Now, as a singer/songwriter, he marries the muse of melodies to the litany of language. “I kept writing songs in musicals for other people,” Allee concludes. “Then I realized I was making something I needed to put out here myself.”

November-December 2007 - American Songwriter


Unless It Isn't (2007)



(View a PDF of Johnnye's latest Press Release by clicking on "Basic Req" in the above header bar.)

ASCAP/Sammy Cahn Award winning singer-songwriter Johnnye Allee makes his recording debut with "Unless it Isn't." Combining a gentle and fluid voice with acoustic piano, acoustic and electric guitars, and drums, his music is an earthy blend of stripped-down, story driven folk-pop/roots-rock freshly brewed and served up steaming from the American roadhouse. His unconventional songs are at once wry, intimate, soulful, cinematic, and poignant.

From the rootsy, ice-house feel of “Everything Will Be All Right," to the mournful country-flavor of “On the Kern County Line” and “Texas to Tuesday," all of the songs on this album have a personal musical style that is grounded in the traditions of the great singer-songwriters from the sixties and seventies. “I’m the Apostrophe” and “Fire is Yellow” take on a heat-hazed swampy intensity with “Torn” adding a measure of ethereal ambience and “Half on the Side of the Leaver” lending gospel tinged raw-boned grit. “That’s the Thing of It” introduces an almost symphonic piano-based pop sound, while “A Simple Transpicuous Philippic; or, You're Not Nice” plays it folk-traditional in an homage to Paul Simon’s early send up of Bob Dylan. “Another New York Knockout," “Hidden in the Crosshairs," and “I Love You Like This” display crisply poetic lyrics and haunting melodies, with a rich sense of harmony in the elegantly simple arrangements.

Johnnye is a recipient of the ASCAP/Sammy Cahn Award for excellence in lyric writing (past winners include John Mayer, Josh Ritter and Lori McKenna) and a multi-faceted performer whose music and acting credits include appearances on stage at Arizona Theatre Company, Los Angeles Theatre Center, Pasadena Playhouse, The Wiltern Theatre, The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, Houston Grand Opera, and the Mark Taper Forum, among others. He has also performed for audiences in Europe and Russia, though, thankfully, he says, in his native English. TV and Film appearances include “Grease 2," “Always Say Goodbye," “Phoenix," “Shattered Vows," “Candid Camera," “Nowhere Fast," and “Hope and Gloria."

Johnnye is also an award winning author and composer of musical plays, including “The Boy Who Could Make Himself Disappear” and “Poet’s Garden” (which won the Backstage West Garland Award for Best Musical Score). His songs have been performed in clubs, theatres and on national TV.

Please contact Johnnye directly for a copy of the album or MP3s of the tracks:

Portuguese Knees Music
(323) 860-9979