Kickland, Johnson & Martin

Kickland, Johnson & Martin


“Folk & Role from the Heartland,” delicious harmonies, compelling musical rides about disparity between the ultra-rich and working class poor, treatment of Natives, and the Love that sustains the effort.


Rocky Kickland and Ed Johnson began gigging in 1972 in the Vermillion, South Dakota area and then on to Omaha where they played until 1976. Their first album, “Clay County” came out in 1974 and even after their amicable split they collaborated on “Homespun” in 1977 and “From The Seed” in 1986. Johnson met his current wife, Michelle Martin in Idaho in 1997. During “kitchen counter recordings” the two couldn’t distinguish who was who as their voices were so well matched. The trio melded in 2002 and has had a wonderful response from listeners. The magic is in full regalia!

We are told that we are reminiscent of Crosby, Stills, and Nash; Peter, Paul, and Mary; and Simon and Garfunkle. We are inspired by these and other greats including Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, and others. Despite Neil Young’s lyrical opinion that it is better to burn out than fade away, we think it’s better to keep on going, after all there is a whole new generation of hippies who may benefit from offerings of the “old hippies!”


49 Billionaires/The Elimination of the American Middle Class

Written By: Ed Johnson

Forty-nine billionaires rootin’ in the trough
Out on the reservation there’s a baby’s dyin’ cough.
But there’s no money for the medicine.
His folks ain’t got no jobs.
Soon the baby’s dead and all that’s left are sobs.

Forty-nine billionaires, so ugly in their greed,
Like some twisted carnivore on the people’s lives they feed.
The working poor out on the street, they can’t afford the rent.
The forty-nine they smell a dime and say, “Hey! I know,
let’s sell some tents!”

Forty-nine billionaires making all the rules,
You buy and sell the president and the Congress full of fools.
Forty-nine billionaires, you know it’s all so damn obscene,
In this world of hungry people dying, crying out their need.

Forty-nine billionaires strung up by the toe
Look just like him or me or you or any other joe.
Forty-nine billionaires you gotta divvy up the dough.
You better think of someone but yourselves for this democracy to grow.

Hey There Friend

Written By: Ed Johnson

Hey there friend, how ya doin'? Hope you're doin' fine.
Hey there friend I care about ya though the split was mine.
Seems like only yesterday I knew you.
Seems like just last night I held you tight.
Now I sit here wonderin' how you're feelin'
And wonderin' where you're gonna spend the night.
And wonderin' where you're gonna spend the night.

Hey there friend how's the goin'? Hope the goin's smooth.
Hey there friend I hope you're sailin' away from all your blues.
Part of me is wantin' you to miss me
To feel the pain that's runnin' down my soul.
The other part is tryin' to forget you with neither part quite knowin' where to go.

Hey there friend keep our friendship though the rest might die.
Treasured thoughts and happy memories last us through the miles.
And if some man is keepin' your bed warm at night,
I hope his arms are strong and hold you tight.
You're a woman and you've got your woman's needs.
I know how cold and lonely is the night.

Hey there friend don't forget now all the things we've done.
Magic skies full of laughter, sunbeams from the sun.
I'll keep in touch with where you are and where you've been
hoping only for your happy days.
Maybe up the road we'll learn to feel again,
and the love we lost will come back then to stay.

From the Seed

Written By: Ed Johnson

I think I feel a change is comin', it's a comin' around the bend.
Somehow in the scheme of things a tribe is gatherin'.
Freeborn men of all descriptions dropped out
from the scene, Making up this circle here they all saw in a dream.

From the seed will come the flowering.
From the seed will come the flowering.

Men and women bound in time, Passing lifelines down the line,
We all have times when we need them.
Looking forward through the haze, Turns my eyes from blue to craze.
You better find some people you can stand by.

Chorus Ahh, wild wind.

The Missouri River it'll still be flowin'.
The prairie winds will still be blowin',
When Citi-Bank's no longer with us.
High above the prairie ground the gilded tower smashes down!
Hey, don't be standing in its shadow when it crashes.


Dakota Sioux

Written By: Ed Johnson

The old man on the mountain he came to be my friend.
We talked a lot. He told me much. He felt life near the end.
He told of days now gone by before the white man came
With his deadly guns and his sharpened plows
To give the land his name.

Once wild grass grew from sky to sky in rolling plains of brown
With crystal lake and mountain streams and clouds of fleece and down
To this they’ve added billboard signs and wire fences he said.
The ones who lived here first don’t mind. Most of them are dead.

A rich man’s son he stole a car and smashed into a tree.
They slapped his hand and sent him home. The judge picked up his fee.
The next case tried was an Indian boy. He stole a pair of socks.
He spent his next six years in jail busting county rocks.

The last time that he talked to me he looked me in the eye.
Be proud your skin is dark like mine and hold your head up high.
I knew your mom and daddy well before the hunger came.
They would have lived had they crawled. They just wouldn’t play
the white man’s game.

They’d take your name if they could and make it Smith or Brown.
But Bending Willow fits you well. Don’t let them tear you down.
Think of seas of buffalo grass. Remember where they grew.
Your parents that you never knew were proud Dakota Sioux.

A Line From My New Song

Written By: Ed Johnson

It's been a long time, Susan, since I've seen you.
I'm lonely with the risin' of the sun.
Nighttime, you know, it chills me 'til the morning'
And the mornin' finds me wishin' I could run.

I've found I'm not so happy here without you.
My freedom means so little to me now.
It takes more than skin to warm a man in winter.
You always loved me, lady, with your mind.

So I'll sing to you ... a line from my new song,
One I'll play to help my dreams along.
I'm feeling that I want you for my woman
I'm hopin' you'll still have me for your man.

So if you think you'd ever like to try again.
We're older now and wiser for the years.
I'll keep on dreamin' til the time it happens.
It takes dreams, I think, to keep a man from tears.


Pigtail Girl

Written By: Ed Johnson

I'm gonna catch me a butterfly and get off of this snail.
I'm gonna build me a castle out of firefly tails.

Chorus: Maybe we'll go to Oregon, they say it's so
pretty there. I'm gonna take along my best friend,
She's got those pigtails in her hair, in her hair.

I'm gonna build me some dreams out of smiles and things.
I'm gonna hitch on out and see her and use the dreams for my wings.


Go on back to the porch and check the mailbox again, It's been such a fine day, you know I'm sure to hear from my friend, And she'll say come on out now and see me, come on out now and talk to me. Well, come on out now. We've got those happy days still comin' and those castles by the sea, by the sea.


Oh Let the Sun Shine

Written By: Ed Johnson

Oh let the sun shine, oh let it rain. I'm gonna be your friend
Oh let the sun shine, oh let it rain, honey, I'm gonna see your
love again.

We've been hangin' on now for most of three years
And still you're so far away in California.
Still I keep a thinkin' and wishin' you to be, honey
Lyin' right beside me.


I guess it makes no difference where our love was at before
Today's not yesterday and not tomorrow.
Still I'm on the highway and I'm hitchin' to your door
Lookin' for your smilin' face not wantin' any sorrow,
Lookin' for your smilin' face not wantin' any sorrow.


You know from where we're standin'
It's really hard to tell where this love of ours is a goin'.
But either way, I guess you know, I'll always love the girl
I spent so many years a mine lovin' and a knowin'.


Three Mile Island

Written By: Ed Johnson

I don’t want to live out at no Three Mile Island
Or eat no fishes from the San Fransico Bay
But now they’re coming here with all their death and all their lyin’
Rallying defenses now no time left to delay.

Ride along the wind song, feel the power in the river,
Watching shades of sundown, spirit gifts from the Great Giver.

We’re losin’ all the farmers to the corporations.
Water for the ranches will be runnin’ dry.
It seems to me to be it’s such a greedy situation,
Oil companies making money, children sick and dying.

Gather ‘round your tables now, let your voices find your hearts,
A gathering of all the people now, a joining of the Ark.

We got children getting sores from the concentration
Of the poisons in the Earth that they leave behind.
Been thinking of the people in the coming generations,
Will we leave them all sick and left to die?

Meridian Bridge

Written By: Michael "Mac" McDonald

Meridian Bridge, you span the muddy waters of the river
that took away Ol' Shenandoah's daughter.
You've stood your ground for well over 50 years,
Watchin' all those Icehouse boys put away their beers.

You stand so tall while you're in the mornin' sun
Casting your shadow until the day is done.
She'll never see you stand above the mornin' fog.
She loves Virginia and all that District smog.


You watched the river flood the bottomlands
Until the Corps stopped it with their dams.
Too bad a dam can't dam the human heart
From giving love long after you're apart.


I guess I love you more than I love the girl
Cuz I came back to watch your waters swirl.
Maybe someday she'll come to understand
That this was the only way I could be her man.


Try to be Free

Written By: Rocky Kickland

It won’t matter if I’m right, won’t matter if I’m wrong.
I’ll keep runnin’ after dreams, chasin’ after songs.
I tried workin’ for the boss, workin’ for the man.
I lost sight of why I’m here lost sight of who I am.

Chorus: But now I think I see a better way to be.
At least we’ve got to try, try to be free.

I can’t worry about the past can’t worry where we’ve been
My friend everyday’s a new day.
Bad times’ll never last cause love is gonna win.
I know it’s what we should believe in.


Everywhere I go I see your smiling face like the stars across the sky.
Every now and then I need your warm embrace, it was kismet you and I.

So on and on we go, we’re seeds on the wind.
Again, we really should be leaving.
So much we have to see, I hope it never ends.
‘Til then we’ve gotta keep believing.


Land Grab of the 80's

Written By: Ed Johnson

It was the land grab of the 80's
and all the plain folks were hurtin' bad.
Third generation farmers were losin' everything they had.
The state police were busy standing by the auctioneer.
The farmers and their families not quite holding back their tears.

His head down, the farmer stumbles, big machines standing in a line. Why he's recalling all those old time memories of his daddy, and his daddy, back in time. His wife looks from the kitchen window at the garden site. The sun is setting and the tears are falling, it's down to one more night.

So, stand up and be counted. Sing your song. Strike
up the band. They're draining all our life-blood
down in the heartland. We're fighting for our
families. They're fighting for the gold. Let's
mobilize. Let's organize before all the farms get sold.

The bank foreclosed, so the story goes.
He couldn't make his bill, but they wouldn't pay him for his crop.
They circled for the kill and the ones to own his land already
rich beyond belief. And as can be seen, if you've got the green,
it's okay to be a thief.


Potter Lady

Written By: Ed Johnson

Oh my pretty potter lady weaver of my dreams,
Southern windows, winter sunshine sparkles on the kitchen greens.

I wear a grey-blue shirt, you know it's one you made me,
Oh, oh pretty potter lady.
It warms my soul, the one you're sharing with me,
Oh, oh pretty potter lady.

A warming glow, you know you keep around me.
Your eyes like timeless wells reflect the sky and gaze into other times.

Sunlight finds our futures casting the same shadows.
Oh, oh pretty potter lady.
Some open land and some family is what we're after.

Our lives will see good times and hard. We'll know both of their seasons. Oh, oh pretty potter lady.
Sunlight brings the land its warmth, you've brought to me a reason. Oh, oh pretty potter lady.
Oh, oh pretty potter lady.
Oh, oh pretty potter lady.

Southern Highway

Written By: Ed Johnson

Guess I'm gonna get along some southern movin' highway
and get upon the rolling mountains of New Mexico.
Let those desert sunsets soothe me
and get some new friends talkin' to me
and let my mind go reeling with the eagle through the sky.

And if California finds you with a new love, I'll be
happy if you're smilin' Susan. No one is to blame if
it's finally come to goin'. You're just a woman,
honey, I'm just a man.

Even though the pain of leavin' you still surrounds me,
you know I've got a new friend and lots of places I ain't seen.
There comes a time between two people when you either stay or let go. I've been slowly dyin' livin' halfway in between.

And if the mornin' finds ya laughin' with your new love,
I'll be happy if you're smilin' Susan.
No one is to blame if it's finally come to goin'.
You're just a woman, honey. I'm just a man.

Please Don't Say Forever

Written By: Ed Johnson

Please don’t say forever because we love today.
Tomorrows are uncertain things. No one can really say.
Forevers are for story books and young love by the sea.
We’ve both been through that game before. It’s not for you and me.

Let’s live each day as it goes by and not make future plans.
Plans don’t always hold so true when lovers make demands.
We’ll greet the morning with a smile and love into the dawn
and not be caught by empty words of love when we find that love is gone.

I had someone once tell me she’d love me ‘til the end.
When she left my heart went too and it took so long to mend.
Now I don’t really blame her but how much better it would be
if we could both sing April’s songs of love and still be free.


Written By: Ed Johnson

Watch the swallows circling and climbing
Catching sunbeams on the wing,
With wind as friend and clouds for lovers,
Do you doubt the song he sings?

Chorus: Can we fly with swallow's wings up over
mountains by the sea? If we listen close in the evening
the swallow sings “Come fly with me.”

I've often watched those birds in flight
And dreamed of living my life so free,
Like clouds of lace and angel down,
A chance to live my life and just be me.


The swallow song rings like a bell,
Silver steepled there in the sky.
And no one cares what path he chooses.
No one tells him how high to fly.


Waves of the Dawn

Written By: Ed Johnson

You river me down to an ocean and you shower me up to the sky.
You leave me with joyous emotion and these trembles of life that I sigh.

And the wind was a warm one that blew your love to me.
I guess a rainbow comes after the storm.
And this child that you gave me is like to amaze me,
Little Ellie, you sure make me warm.

The sunrise an ethereal presence, through the fog on the day you were born. And your mom was a radiant essence. A new mother and child ride the waves of the dawn.

And we lay there in silence with love deep inside us
As this miracle it swept us away.
And then joy overcame me in the dawn all around me.
We gave thanks to the spirits of the day.


Clay County (LP soon to be CD) originally released in 1974.
Homespun (LP soon to be CD) originally released in 1977.
From the Seed (LP soon to be CD) originally release in 1986.
Meridian Bridge released in 2002.

Set List

We typically run an hour per set with a ten minute break. We have a little over 150 songs that we gig according to the demographics of the audience and the desires of management. Here is a set from our Wednesday nights gig:

California Dreamin’ /Lovin’ Spoonfuls
Lookin’ Out My Back Door /CCR
Baby I’m A Want You /Bread
Moon Dance /Van Morrison
Don’t Think Twice /Bob Dylan
Lover’s Cross /Jim Croce
Here Comes the Sun /Beatles
Teach Your Children /Graham Nash
Angel From Montgomery /John Prine
Scarborough Fair /Simon & Garfunkle
And of course our originals