NOLA’s Eric Johanson fires rock from Hill Country

Eric Johanson rocked the Crystal Bay Casino at Lake Tahoe in 2019.
Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onstage

Eric Johanson put the “Hammer on the Stone” on his new album, and if that tune is a nod to Jimi Hendrix, he nailed it.

Hendrix is just one of the guitar gods that come to mind when listening to Johanson’s new CD, “Below Sea Level.” Think Pat Travers, Davy Knowles and Jack White. This album is a down deep and dirty rocker. Prolific producer Luther Dickinson must have had a blast making this one.

A third -generation Louisianan, Johanson is a true-blues triple threat guitarist-singer-songwriter. Home state hero from Houma, Tab Benoit, recognized Johanson’s talent and signed him to his Whiskey Bayou Records label and cut a debut record in 2017, “Burn It Down.”

Three years later, Johanson penned 12 songs for his solo debut with Nola Blue Records, mostly each of them 3 or 4 minutes long, leaving the listener wanting more. Fortunately for me, I’ve seen Johanson stretch his songs out a bit during live revues Benoit brought to Reno and Tahoe in 2018 and 2019.

With Nola Blue Records, Johanson continues to be surrounded with greatness. North Mississippi Allstars brother Cody Dickinson plays drums and Terrence Grayson from the Victor Wainwright Band plays bass. The album was cut at the famed Zebra Ranch built by Luther and Cody’s father, Jim Dickinson. The deep-grooved song “Open Hearted Woman” is the only one to have obvious Dickinson Hill Country boot imprints.

Johanson harmonizes vocals with his guitar on the trancey “River of Oblivion” and slide show called “Down to the Bottom.”

The hard-rocking album lands smooth and gentle, concluding a slide ballad, “Love is Rebellion,” and an acoustic National country lick, “Riverbed Blues.”

There’s a rising star in the Crescent City and his name is Eric Johanson.

-Tim Parsons

  • Eric Johanson
  • ‘Below Sea Level’
  • Label: Nola Blue Records
  • Release: Sept. 18, 2020
  • Favorite tracks: ‘Hammer on the Stone,’ ‘Buried Above Ground’

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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