Johnny O'Neal
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Johnny O'Neal

Band Americana Rock


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"Delta Style Magazine"

Voted "Best Band In the Delta" by the readers poll. - Gannett Press

"Just Johnny"

Just Johnny; just about everywhere
Posted by NickDeriso at 5/22/2008 12:44 AM CDT on

Johnny O'Neal is playing somewhere right now. That much is all but certain.
The longhaired, guitar-toting singer-songwriter appears Friday night -- and every Friday night -- at Portico on Tower Drive in Monroe, Wednesday afternoons at Moe's Southwest Grill on Tower Drive, Wednesday evenings at Sixth Street Bar, Thursdays at Louisiana Legends inside the Holiday Inn on U.S. 165, and in between at other joints like Enoch's, too.

Familiarity hasn't come close, however, to breeding contempt. Fans, fellow pickers and saloon keepers alike call him one of the area's most important, and consistent, working musicians.

"I think he's one of the best entertainers anywhere," says Enoch's owner Doyle Jeter. "He makes everybody happy when he plays."

O'Neal continues to appear regularly as single act, having made his reputation alone on stage, but he's also dabbled in larger groups with instrumentalists like Billy Hicks, Britton Currie (who went on to play with Alan Jackson and Trace Atkins) and T-Bo Lairscey.

"I think Johnny and Britton Currie, when they were playing as a duo at Ponchatoula's in Ruston and Cottonport in West Monroe, were the best act in Louisiana - and could have been huge if the rest of the world had caught on," says Monty Russell, himself a weekly performer at Ruston's Sundown Tavern.

It was with T-Bo and Rickey Pittman that O'Neal reached a national audience, when his parody "The Jerry Springer Song" was aired at the end of that television program. Big news stories greeted him. O'Neal took the newfound fame in stride - remaining humble and reliably upbeat.

"That's the beauty of being a musician," O'Neal jokes. "You can get on the front page without having gone to jail first."

He laughs for a moment, then muses: "There's a song in there somewhere."

That novelty song was just one of dozens of his own tunes that have received local airplay, including "Side by Side" and "The Snaggin' Song."

"Personally, I think his original songs are his best material," Russell says. "He's got a song called 'Up and Running' that I think is a mega-hit, if the right person gets hold of it."

O'Neal's performances are marked by a pleasing mixture of old songs and new, original songs and choice covers.

"It's a throwback of when people told stories with songs," says fellow musician Bruce Gay, a longtime member of the Lightnin' Bugs and Dorothy Prime's blues acts. "As we move more into sampling, electronics and hi-tech computer-generated sounds, I think it is important to have troubadours - storytellers - that we can actually sit and listen to."

That Springer song - a huge hit with local university students a few years back - underscores O' Neal's ability to both entertain and inspire.

"He's able to cross generation gaps because he knows how to pick out the right songs to sing," Russell says. "For instance, he's covered `If I Had A Boat' for a while. Us older folks know that as a Lyle Lovett tune. The college kids think it's a Dave Matthews song. Johnny's smart with his set list like that."

His voice cries with joy sometimes; his playing never goes ragged, though.

"What makes him such a crossover act is hard to put your finger on," Gay says. "But for one thing, he's just good."
- The News Star

"Nick Deriso"

"There is within Johnny's basic roots sound, a suprising bredth of stylistic textures. O'Neal is a songwriter of uncommon vigilance and faith." - Monroe News Star

"Allen Foster"

"Future Charter Songwriter" - Songwriter's Monthly

"Shannon Amidon"

"His voice must come from a piece of him that stores experience as well as memory. How else could a young white man sound eons beyond his days." - Delta Style

"Oz Abana"

O'Neal delivers the goods by laying bare his heart and his own unique blend of hard driving rock, blues,country and jazz music strains then slams your butt to the back of your chair by delivering a vocal performance that is riviting on such upbeat tunes as "City Blues", "Snaggin" and a very neat ditty, "Catfish Blues". - Midway Music

"Robert Fontenot"

"Johnny describes his music as 'Real music for real people' and in this case that means an ultra clean roots pop..." - Off Beat Magazine


1993 release "One Step At A Time" recorded in New Orleans at Festival Studios.
2001 tracks from Nashville go on his '18 in All" recorded at Texanna studios in Nashville.
2002 "Live In The Dawghouse" recorded live at a Louisiana venue
2003 "Live At Legends" recorded live in North Louisiana
2007 "Acoustic To The Max" Live and studio mix.



Since the tender age of 10 O'Neal has played guitar and sang songs of the times. He has opened shows for national acts like Jerry Jeff Walker, David Allen Coe, Gary P. Nunn, Michael Martin Murphy, and J.J. Cale and even Percy Sledge. O'Neal is a songwriter and performer who knows how to reach the audience with good humor and leave them with the feeling of a real person to person connection.
O'Neal has also been on the Louisiana Artist Roster and has played many shows thru the NEA and the local art community as well as many charity events.
O'Neal was invited to play at MIDEM (Cannes France) to welcome the crowd to the LMNOP (New Orleans based music conference) cocktail party each evening. There he played to the worldly diverse group and was so widely accepted that he was featured in a film about MIDEM and his picture appeared in the daily MIDEM magizine next to 60s singer'songwriter Donavan. Since the arrival of the Americana music scene O'Neal has seen a way to market his diverese musical style. The acoustic guitar has always been a driving sound in all rock and country music. People love to hear the songs broken down to that simple combination of "One Vocal One Guitar"
Recently Johhnyo was voted the "BEST BAND" by Delta Style readers pole in the Monroe Louisiana area which is quite an honor! Johnny has been added to the roster of the world famous booking agency, "The Entertainment Agency" based in Boston Mass. You can check their website for a great video and booking info.