The Fabulous Johnson Brothers
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The Fabulous Johnson Brothers

Columbus, Ohio, United States

Columbus, Ohio, United States
Band Pop Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"2006 ComFest Performance Review"

"The Fabulous Johnson Brothers came on a little after 9, and the sun was well on it's way to setting. By this time in the day, most of crowd had clearly been consuming large quantities of alcohol, amongst other mind altering drugs, I'm sure. I'd never seen the J-Bros, and neither had my girlfriend, so we didn't really know what to expect. It was beach balls and pink scarves, feathers and deep, funk bass. It was a disco party, ass-shaking, tangerine pelvic thrust to the face. The flamboyant Aaron Pickering was rocking the mic with his wild gyrations and the stage presence of Freddie Mercury (again, if you doubt my assertions, check back tomorrow afternoon for the pictures of this craziness). By the time they oozed into the song "Quintessential Honey" the crowd was well lubricated and ready for action. Our hips were moving and our asses were shaking. The Jay Kay vocals and Parliament Funkadelic Brass section combined in a slow, sexy bedroom groove. It was orange shag carpet and chocolate brown velvet covers. It was a mirrored headboard and incense and mood lighting and soft-focus. The song built to it's climax like a vintage seventies porn, then burned slow like a vanilla candle, all the way to the end. It was silky and soft and sensual and dirty. Pickering took you into his bedroom and pulled off his pants in one fell swoop, buttons snapping up the sides, revealing a tuxedo g-string and leather boots. It was filthy and perfect. By the time they reached about the halfway point of their set, we had experienced the ear funking of our lifetimes, and we were begging for more. Doug Beale and Curtis Roberts were rocking the sexual guitars, laying down licks that were certainly not safe for minors. It started to get REALLY crazy when Pickering asked the audience if they wanted to help the band by playing the Tambourine for them. Of course everyone within earshot yelled their assent, and the band began throwing toy Tambourines into the crowd. My girlfriend was lucky enough to catch one, and let me tell you, she can rock the hell out of a toy Tambourine, she even has the shake-slap-shake action down, it was impressive. Anyway, the song they were playing (sadly, I didn't catch the title) was a bit of a departure from the Key-Party atmosphere of the previous songs. This one was a sun-baked cantina with a sweating cerveza and a bowl of limes. It was a falsetto seduction and olive skin and black eyebrows. It was spicy and we loved it. When they reached the sweet-tooth pornography of "Chocolate", the audience was clearly getting all hot and bothered, and since the sun had gone down twenty minutes previous, it was most definitely the result of the hard work of the men (and woman) onstage. When Pickering started uttering words like, "Takes more than a mouthful/more than a mouth for momma/oh YEAH!" you could practically see the flushed faces all through the crowd. By the end of the song, there was not an unshaken hip or unthrust pelvis in the entire bunch. I'm sure by this point, we were all thinking the same thing, "This is awesome, surely it can't get any better!" Little did we know, that during the ambiguously sexual song, "Universal" all hell would break loose. I was taking notes when my girlfriend exlaimed and grabbed my arm, by the time I looked up, the band had been joined by three very gay men on stilts and one energetic hula-hoop twirler bouncing across the stage. The ambiguously sexual song had suddenly turned into a Carnivale of limbo sex. The lead singer was in a gay rave sandwich with two of the stilt men and the hula-hooper was groping the bare-chested bass player. From my side, my girlfriend uttered some of the truest words I've ever heard at a concert, "Now this is what music's about!" I have to agree. When a band manages to make an inoffensive thing like stilts seem so dirty, and yet so right at the same time, it can't be seen as anyting but an accomplishment. As if the stilt porn wasn't enough, they closed the show with Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff." Pickering dedicated the song to "All the boys, and all the girls, and all the girly boys, and all the surly girls". I don't think that his pelvis stopped thrusting for even a second during the entire song. It's no wonder the Comfest organizers put these filthy-amazing songsters on so late in the day, this stuff was definietly not for the faint of heart. But anyone that could take the craziness came away a little flushed in the cheeks, a little light in the head, and a little tight in the pants."

"Quintessential Honey Album Review"

So few bands these days take any chances musically, especially when they hit the major labels. It's almost as if while some groups are independent, they feel free to experiment with songs that reflect so many different stylistic influences, but the moment they get locked into the big record deal, their creativity is locked up tight.

With that in mind, I have this simple message for Johnson Brothers - and I can't emphasize this enough, even if I were to set this in the largest type possible in HTML: Don't EVER lose your creative spirit . Even if it means passing up the chance to be on a major label, rally against the suits and their "musical herd" mentality. If their second album Quintessential Honey is a sign of what this band is capable of, then I'm more excited than a 10-year-old kid downloading nude pictures of Anna Nicole Smith.

Lead vocalist Aaron Pickering (who also handles some percussion and keyboards) and crew have a real innocence about them. Their musical vision hasn't been deflowered by slick-talking shysters who claim they know what's best for the band, when they themselves couldn't find a clue with a road map. They haven't been compromised by A&R people at labels who care less about musical purity than about how they can get an album certified as a Diamond-seller. This is music , pure and simple. This is reminiscent of what got people like me interested in making some kind of career based around music. This, kids, is what is quite possibly the rarest element in the whole music industry: honesty.

Boy, the reader is thinking, he's laying it on thick today. Well, wouldn't you if you heard a group who could mix the funkiness of Earth, Wind & Fire with the alternative sense of King's X and even a little bit of Steely Dan thrown in at times? Oh - and let's not forget that Johnson Brothers is able to accomplish all this while creating a unique sound for themselves. The opening trio of songs - "Out Of Tune," "Music & Mind" and "Quintessential Honey" - show that this sextet has absolute mastery of their musical style, and will make believers out of anyone who comes along.

But to call these guys a funk group or retro-'70s would be incorrect. "Visions Of You" is a tender, stripped-down track which makes good use of Curtis Roberts's bass. (For that matter, all of the instrumentation comes through the mix crisply without losing any of the nuances - well done!) Other tracks, like "L.A. Song" and "My Combustible Skin," find Johnson Brothers plowing their own path in album rock without relying too heavily on any one influence.

Oh, this isn't to say that Quintessential Honey is without any flaws. "Seven" is a track that confuses me - one minute's worth of a chorus? A song idea that never got fleshed out? The band fooling around on a riff? All it tends to do is break the momentum a little bit - and while the following track "Something Simple" has some beautiful moments, the band isn't able to get that momentum back. (I'd have utilized some harmony vocals on this one's chorus; guitarist/keyboardist Doug Beale proves earlier this group can do some great harmonies.)

Still, even when Johnson Brothers stumble, I'd rather hear them take that chance and miss the bullseye than become a cookie-cutter group. "Highest" is kind of like that, a song that works at getting back on track and partially succeeds, but doesn't quite live up to the excellence that makes up the bulk of Quintessential Honey. "Right Here Now" does succeed in taking a chance, following a different rhythm pattern and putting their fate in the hands of bassist Roberts and drummer Matt Fielding. It's almost Toad The Wet Sprocket-like at times, and turns out to be a pretty powerful track. The album's closer "Aloha" seals the deal for me, making me want to dive for the stereo and hit the "play" button on the CD player again.

Quintessential Honey is the kind of disc that reaffirms my faith in the music industry, and suggests that Johnson Brothers, as long as they're given the freedom to develop their music as they see fit, are going to be huge. These guys are worth watching for... and I'll be keeping my eyes and ears focused on them.

Rating: A-
- The Daily Vault

"Uno! Album Review"

ack in August 2001, when I reviewed Quintessential Honey, the second album from Johnson Brothers, I exhorted them to never lose their creative spirit. I liked the fact that I was hearing a band who was willing to take all styles of music and merge them into something unique - something that would have A&R people at labels soiling themselves in shock, because this music didn't fit a particular mold.

In the past year, the band - led by vocalist Aaron Pickering - has undergone some changes, not the least of which is they've pared themselves down to a lean four-piece outfit. Their lates EP, Uno!, shows that their music has changed as well. Gone are the funky jams that made Quintessential Honey such a unique disc to listen to - and, frankly, I miss that. While this EP is no failure, it does suggest that Johnson Brothers have moved closer to mainstream... damn.

Granted, there are only five songs on this disc - and one of these is featured twice, in electric and acoustic versions. And, granted, their last effort was such a complex work that it took more than one listen to fully appreciate what Johnson Brothers were trying to accomplish. So I'm willing to concede that, had Uno! been longer, I would have had a clearer understanding of what Pickering and crew were trying to accomplish this time around.

Ah, but five songs are all I have to work with, and it just feels like it's not enough. Things really don't start cooking for the band until the third track, the electric version of "A Long Day," refueling memories of just how good this band is. The following track, "(C'mon) Inside," is also well done, suggesting the band was starting to get a feel of this new stylistic shift.

If only they had asserted themselves as strongly right out of the gate. While the first two tracks, "Head Full Of Stars" and "One Trick Pony," are hardly failures, their more outright rock tones (and abandonment of harmony vocals - at least for the time being) don't grab the listener and hold them in the way that Johnson Brothers are capable of. Sure, the final three tracks (including a beautiful acoustic rendition of "A Long Day") make the journey more than worthwhile, but when you have only 16 minutes of music to offer, every second is vital.

This isn't to say that Uno! isn't worth your time, or that Johnson Brothers have made an incorrect career move. But I'm still on the fence as to whether this is indeed a good move for the band. By giving up the musical jambalaya that made up their last album, Pickering and crew come closer to sounding like every other band on the radio today - and, in all honesty, it was their uniqueness that drew me to them in the first place.

Rating: B- - The Daily Vault

"Group in running to be ‘The Next Great American Band’"

Three Bellefontaine natives, Aaron Pickering, Doug Beale and Curtis Roberts, are part of Fox’s new reality series, The Next Great American Band, which airs for the first time at 8 p.m. Friday.

Mr. Pickering, vocalist, Mr. Beale, lead guitarist, and Mr. Roberts, bass guitarist, are part of The Fabulous Johnson Brothers, a seven-member band based in Columbus.

The group sent in an audition tape to the show’s producers in June. They learned in August they were one of 60 finalists from approximately 6,000 submissions.

The Fabulous Johnson Brothers and the other finalists were flown to either Las Vegas or Los Angeles to compete in televised auditions.

Mr. Beale said the judges gave them a good review at the auditions.

“They compared us to Maroon 5 and the Scissor Sisters,” he said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

Though they received good ratings thus far, The Johnson Brothers do not know yet whether they made the judges’ top 12 cut for bands that will perform on the show following audition rounds, Mr. Beale said.

Mr. Pickering, Mr. Beale and Mr. Curtis have been writing songs and playing together since they were 15 years old. He said they were influenced by Curtis’s late grandfather, Leroy Moss.

“He played the trumpet and taught us how to really listen to music,” Mr. Beale said.

After graduating from Bellefontaine High School in 1991, the three friends and bandmates moved to Columbus to pursue their musical interests.

They eventually formed The Fabulous Johnson Brothers with Matt Fielding, drums; Brian Yarbrough, trumpet; Jim Mayr, saxophone; and Nicole Sherburne, saxophone; all of whom they met in Columbus.

Mr. Beale described their sound as combination of “poprock, rock-n-roll, funk and soul” with “dance influences.”

“If Prince and The Rolling Stones had a little love child, it would probably sound a little like us,” he said.

Some of the band’s influences listed on their Web page include the Scissor Sisters, the BeeGees, Michael Jackson, Lenny Kravitz, Madonna and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, along with many others.

The band toured the Midwest and the East Coast for two years in the late 1990s.

However, given the Internet’s popularity during the past seven or eight years, the group started promoting itself on the Web instead of completing extensive tours.

“Being on the road as an unsigned band is pretty rough,” Mr. Beale said. “So since the Internet is popular now, we don’t have to go on the road to market ourselves.”

Mr. Beale said the band auditioned for the show to gain exposure to a larger market and hopefully find a record label.

“Ultimately, our goal is to tour and make records for a living,” he said. “However, even if we don’t make the final 12 cut, I don’t have any regrets — I still got to go on a great vacation with my friends.”

To learn more about the band and to listen to their music, visit or
- The Bellefontaine Examiner


We Come Together - (release date TBA)
Uno! (2003)
Quintessential Honey (2001)
Universal Tongue (1998)



We, The Fabulous Johnson Brothers, have decided to abandon the usual band bio and instead interview the fabulous one himself, our own Aaron Pickering.

You've said that your band's old-school influences include Prince, Michael Jackson, and even The Rolling Stones. What do you share with such legendary groups?

"A love of the flamboyant and a desire to entertain people and let them feel lots of emotions. "

What modern acts are you most often compared to?

"Scissor Sisters, Maroon 5 and Lenny Kravitz."

Do you think the world is ready for the music of The Fabulous Johnson Brothers?

"Can the Pope make a fart smell? Of course the world is ready! Let's make room for a splash of color and have some fun! With a whole bunch of sounds and personalities we can be sexy, silly and smart all at the same time... and we write bootylicious dance-rock anthems."

Who are your personal influences?

"When I think of influences, I think of the songs I used to sing as a kid into the mirror with my mom's big hair brush. Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Boy George, George Michael, Duran Duran, Erasure, Depeche Mode, Cyndi Lauper, The B-52's, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, The Red Hot Chili Peppers. These people are true performers and make really exciting, colorful music."

I thought only cheesy funk bands had horn sections.

(laughs) "The music we grew up on in the '70s and '80s had horns all over it! You can even hear it now on songs from Xtina to Arcade Fire. We wanted something in this group that made us unique to the current musical climate. Horns seemed like the natural choice. I love how glorious a brass section can sound. There are so many different sounds and places you can go with them."

What distinguishes a JBros live performance from your recorded material?

"We take more chances live. Live, you can really stretch out and wiggle your toes a little more. You have to divert from your studio recordings live to make a performance special. Otherwise, why come see a band play when you could save a lot of time and money and stay at home and listen to the same music really loud?

"Live, it's all about taking chances. The potential to fall flat on your face is what makes you a better musician. That's what makes a live performance so special. Not knowing what to expect. When all else fails, take off your clothes."

In your own words, explain the name, The Fabulous Johnson Brothers.

"We were looking for something very tongue-in-cheek and memorable. We initially decided on the name Johnson. After a while, we added Brothers to signify our broverly love and eventually Fabulous was added to camp-up the name a little bit."

Which one of you are brothers?

"Curtis (Roberts) is really the only brotha'..."(laughing)