Noel, Nathan, Trevor, and Jared make up the band Johnson Crook, a collection of dudes that we’ve had the chance to watch and listen to for the last two years, and in that time we’ve seen them push forward, and work hard to get to where they are now in 2017. From our first meeting at The Gladstone, through two appearances at Boots & Hearts, a great night at the Horseshoe Tavern, sets during Canadian Country Music Week in London, ON, and opening slots for rising star JJ Shiplett, we’ve seen Johnson Crook debut songs, get tighter on stage, and show music fans what they have to offer.
And on Saturday night we were happy to be there for the celebration of their debut release, a four song EP that serves as a taste for a full-length album that will be released this August.
Johnson Crook started their set in front of a sold out audience with an acoustic runthrough of the EP, playing Minnedosa, Call Me Home, Canada To Heartbreak, and Mr. Nobody. The harmonies shone in the stripped down versions of the songs, and the crowd responded to each song with applause and appreciation.
Note: While he does appear on Mr. Nobody on the EP, Tom Cochrane was not at the Dakota Tavern on Saturday night. Too bad for us.
And where we’ve seen other artists bow out gracefully after showing off the songs of their release, Johnson Crook were just getting started. The boys played for nearly two full hours, playing 23 songs by my count, and truly looked like they were loving every minute of it.
With a busy summer coming up, including performances booked for Dauphin Countryfest, Rockin’ The Fields Of Minnedosa, and Moose & Fiddle Music Festival, this show was a warm up – and a thank you to everyone that has been around during the first three years of the band’s life.
The vibe inside of the cozy, warm, cellphone averse Dakota Tavern was upbeat and celebratory from start to finish. Before the band took the stage you could see each of the members chatting with friends and supporters. And during the set it was easy to spot those same supporters singing along to the songs from the EP, and others that we’ve seen live over the last 24 months worth of shows. We heard Mining For Freedom, Hardwired, Old Crow, Feel Some Love, Desert Rose, High Road, and more as the night pressed on, the drinks flowed, and people tapped their toes and danced in the crowd.
The Johnson Crook songbook takes you from whiskey to women, heartbreak to love, singing to songwriting, dancing and more. And we heard it all.
But to close the show, to the delight of the crowd, and in a turn that we don’t often see, the boys played the EP again. This time they were plugged in, as they are on the EP, and the audience was twice as loud, singing along to all four songs, and making memories for Noel, Nathan, Trevor, and Jared.
And as the crowd cheered after the second playing of Canada To Heartbreak, we know there were smiles before the encore.
There are more big nights coming for Johnson Crook, namely the release party for their album later this summer, but Saturday night shouldn’t be overlooked, or underappreciated for what it signifies for a hardworking, talented, good hearted group of dudes who love to play music.
Hit play on the EP, and get tickets for a show near you soon, including May 19 and the Dakota Tavern in Toronto. You won’t be sorry you did.