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"Band Q&A: It’s a Wonderful life"

Wonderful Johnson is one of the few all-live, all-local, and predominantly original-music bands of our area. After the release of their first CD, Authentic Memphis Samwich, in 2003, they’ve been quiet on the recording front — until this week, with the long-awaited release of their follow-up CD, Twelve.

The new album features not only McGeary and the members of Wonderful Johnson (Chopper Doria, Donna Smith, Chris Cugini, and Dave Noble), but a handful of top-notch local players like bass player David Johnson, Dobro player Doug Carman, and guitarist and producer Ray Nesbit.

Front man Tim McGeary recently took a few moments to talk about the new CD, the influences that helped shape his music, and how his son, Trevor, who passed away a year ago, helped out with the album.

Q: How did you come up with the name Twelve?

A: It was originally supposed to be named 12 Special Cookies — it came from a cartoon my son Trevor had written (along with pics of stick people, male and female). It was very funny — we still get a laugh from it — but the songs on this CD are a little more serious, so we decided just to call it Twelve.

Q: Where did you record it, and how long have you worked on it?

A: We recorded the CD at Nezco in Naples. We have been in the studio for about six months. We wanted to take some time with this CD; the last one was done in only a few weeks. It had a great sound, but I wanted to put more passion in this CD, and the reality is, you can’t sing six lead tracks in a day and deliver the vocals that are filled with emotion and energy. It was coproduced with a great up-and-coming producer, Ray Nesbit, and myself. The band also put in a lot of input to make this a labor of love and pain.

Q: Is this album a departure from your earlier one?

A: This CD is very different from the Authentic Memphis Samwich CD. We really stretched to come up with a very eclectic CD. We made each song its own little piece of art and storytelling, rocking hard with numbers like Tell Me and Open the Doors to Heaven, and going to acoustic country blues, complete with resonator lead guitar (the first part of the song was done in mono to give it that Robert Johnson sound for the first verse). And then at the end of the song Say to Me, there are 50 voices harmonizing like a church choir. We were looking to get people to go beyond the aural and bring it to their visual senses and imagination.

Q: What influences or inspires you when you go to write new music or to record?

A: It is so hard to say where I get my influences, but maybe because they are so many and I am very open to all styles of music and can see the beauty, energy, and passion in all of them. I am a Beatles fan and a Peter Gabriel fan — I take a lot influences from each. My subject matter is usually something I have witnessed or was touched by.

This CD was written with my late son Trevor in mind. It was a devastating loss, and increased my spirituality and drive so much. This CD is also done with the mindset that we are one planet and one people, just energy and love. We try as a people try to separate ourselves, but in the end we are all the same. I have seen so much pain in my own life from the people I take care of (McGeary is a paramedic/firefighter) to my own personal losses, but I have also seen so much beauty, so I put both in my writing.

Q: I know you are very prolific. How long does it generally take you to write a song, and what’s the process involve for you — i.e., do you read music and write it in notation? Play it out on your guitar? Jam it with your band?

A: Some songs come so easily in 10 minutes, but others take some time. I have parts that are not a complete song, and then some months or even years later new parts come together and then I finish the song. I do not write music down. It is funny: I met a person that went to school for music and theory. He said it took him years to forget what he learned so he could write again. Most of my songs are written on my acoustic guitar; if sounds like a good song on guitar only, then I feel it has promise. I write a lot of songs. I bring them to the band, and we decide what ones we want to work on. Then we start to play, and everyone puts in their parts until we get what we call “the sound”: it is when it all comes together and the magic fills the room. We all know it when it happens — I guess it is called chemistry.

Q: Which song is closest to your heart on this CD, and why?

A: My Son. It was written for my son Trevor and the gift he gave my and family and myself. The gift of having him for 18 years. The gift of giving us hope and restoration, and the gift of helping me to achieve my new spirituality and sense of purpose.

You can pick up Twelve and the previous album, Authentic Memphis Samwich, at the band’s Web site, www.wonderfuljohnson.com, or at any of their local appearances, also listed on the Web site. The band also plans to have a release party for the album, which - Marco News

"Florida Featured Band"

Wonderful Johnson - Naples, FL
WONDERFUL JOHNSON, out of Naples, FL, is a up and coming pop/rock band starting to tour the East coast of the U.S. They have won awards and have been heard on several TV shows: Smallville, Glory Days, and Prey as well as in the HBO broadcast movie "Girl Got Moe". They just placed first at the MOVA Festival (Mountain Valley Arts Festival) in Alabama. Columbia Records will showcase them in New York City, and they will be playing Disney World's Beach Club in January. The latest CD is getting very good reviews and is receiving radio airplay all over the country.
- Florida Music Scene

"Band builds local fan base, tries for more!"

by charles runnells

Valerie’s Lounge 09/12/2007

The Naples band simply plugged in its instruments and poured its fiery soul into the south Fort Myers bar.

“Ohhhhhhh, the pain, it grows as my heart’s alone,” howled lead singer Tim McGeary and back-up singer/keyboardist Donna Smith on the song “Pain.” “Ohhhhhh, let me go.”

The song climbed and climbed to a potent crescendo of crashing drums and furiously strummed guitar chords. As the last notes faded, the audience —including a handful of particularly enthusiastic band wives and girlfriends burst into hooting applause.

The band grinned out into the smokey bar. This was Wonderful Johnson’s first show at Valerie’s Lounge. Now they’re expanding into Lee County and Sarasota, trying to spread the gospel of Wonderful Johnson to whoever will listen. They even played the Hard Rock Live in Orlando a few months ago.

Playing more shows is step three in Wonderful Johnson’s plan to Make It.

Step one was building a great band, and bandleader McGeary has assembled these five tight musicians over the last two years.

Step two: Recording their second album, “Twelve,” which hit the streets in May. They plan to start pushing the album in January and perhaps launch a national tour.

“We all want to go somewhere with this,” says bass player Dave Noble, 44, of Port Charlotte. “This is more than just a hobby.

“Right now, we’re trying to get ourselves in front of the people who make the decisions in the music industry. We want to get ourselves heard.”

The band members all have a strong feeling about this new album — a potent mix of aching lyrics, soaring melodies and complex harmonies. “Twelve” blends everything from classic and alternative rock to country, blues and funk.

McGeary, who writes most of the songs, set out to make something special with this one.

“I poured my heart into those songs,” McGeary says. “There really is no other way. You have to follow that thing in your heart.”

It helped that he had a lot to say. “Twelve” wasn’t just any album for McGeary — it was a catharsis, a way to exorcise the pain from his son’s death last year.

Songs such as “Don’t Say It Again,” “Heaven Knows Your Name” and “My Son” were all inspired by Trevor McGeary, who died in a car accident in May 2006. He was 18.

That loss permeates the new album. “How Much More” — the album’s “ghost track” — was played at Trevor’s memorial service.

“It was, of course, a huge thing in my life,” McGeary says. “I wanted to realize this passion and this pain.”

McGeary wanted all that passion to come through on the album, too. They recorded it at Naples’ Nezco Studios.

“I really sang hard,” McGeary says. “I just hit the notes and tried to make it really passionate.”

The band has incorporated most of those songs into its ferocious live shows, along with songs from its Nashville-produced album “Authentic Memphis Samich.” That album was recorded four years ago, before the current incarnation of Wonderful Johnson. It featured McGeary and several Nashville session musicians.

Donna Smith — McGeary calls her “Little D” on stage — said she had to step up her game to play with this version of Wonderful.

McGeary often uses unusual chords and flats and sharps where you don’t expect them — a trick he learned from ’80s bands such as XTC. So Smith — who used to play in several Atlanta-area art-rock bands before moving to Naples — had to revisit her childhood training in classical piano.

“I had to go straight back to theory and relearn all those chords,” Smith says. “It does stretch you as a musician.”

Smith credits much of the band’s strength to McGeary and his memorable songs.

“He’s just a prolific songwriter who writes really interesting melodies and hooks,” she says. “It’s a lot of fun to play with him.”

And, no, the band name isn’t something sexual — although McGeary admits most people assume that. Instead, the name comes from an old man McGeary met years ago on the job as a paramedic.

The man’s name was actually “Wonderful Johnson,” and McGeary just liked the positiveness in that.

“I really like affirmation and positive thinking,” McGeary says. “And I thought, ‘How cool is that that somebody is named Wonderful?’”

“Every day is like an affirmation.”

McGeary hopes to keep making positive, emotional music for years to come, and he hopes people come away from his shows feeling wonderful, too.

“I love being a paramedic and a firefighter,” McGeary says. “But music is my soul.

“I’m just trying to make the best music I can. And it’s great that people enjoy it.”

- News Press


Wonderful Johnson's first CD "Authentic Memphis Samich", was recorded in Memphis, TN and enlisted the top-notch production of John Hampton (Gin Blossoms). Authentic Memphis Samich, was self-released in 2003 and songs from it appeared on the television shows, Smallville, One Tree Hill, Glory Days, and The Prey as well as the HBO movie, Girl Got Moe.
In 2006, Wonderful Johnson headed back into the studio to record their sophomore CD, "TWELVE". On May 4, 2007, the final product was in hand and they are now actively promoting the release of the new CD.



Wonderful Johnson is the newest project from noted musician, Tim McGeary (The Rescue). In 2003, Tim and drummer John "Chopper" Doria decided to start a journey that continues today.

McGeary is a prolific acoustic singer/songwriter who wanted the sound and feel of a full band. The vision for Wonderful Johnson was to stack vocal harmonies the way bands like the Beatles and the Eagles did, while having a strong lead guitar (Chris Cugini) and a little seasoning of keyboards (Donna Smith) on top of the driving rhythm of drums (Chopper Doria) and bass. (Dave Noble)
The result is incredibly eclectic songs of immense variety.