John Tennison | Both Hands Like the Devil

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Both Hands Like the Devil

by John Tennison

This album takes Boogie Woogie to artistic heights never before realized.
Genre: Jazz: Boogie-Woogie
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Both Hands Like the Devil
6:59 $0.99
2. Texarkana Train
24:32 album only
3. Riding the Rods
14:14 album only
4. Steam Engine Shop 1
14:04 album only
5. Steam Engine Shop 2
9:09 album only
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
John "Nonjohn" Tennison (A.K.A. the “Texarkana Train”) was born on September 16, 1968 in Texarkana, Texas. Texarkana is located in the Red River Valley in Bowie County at the far northeastern corner of Texas. Texarkana is surrounded by piney woods and swamp lands that encompass the geographical area known as the “Arklatex.” The Arklatex is so named because it includes the confluence of three states: Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana. According to historical accounts, the Texas portion of the Arklatex was the fertile ground where the piano style we now know as "Boogie Woogie" was first played, and where the term "Boogie Woogie" transitioned from being a term for dancing and sensual behavior to also being a descriptor for the style of piano music we now know as Boogie Woogie.

Consequently, Tennison’s exposure to and interest in Boogie Woogie is a direct consequence of his Texan Boogie Woogie heritage. Tennison plays Boogie Woogie as a form of daily yogic meditation directed by his spontaneous mental impulses. As a consequence, his Boogie Woogie performances are in the spirit of "free jazz," and are therefore improvisatory to the degree of not only improvising melody and rhythm, but also of improvising harmonic changes and meter.

The album title, "Both Hands Like the Devil," was inspired by a comment by Eubie Blake, who described piano player William Turk as having "a left hand like God."

Here are just a few reviews of John "Nonjohn" Tennison's music:

"Nonjohn is the most amazing gifted boogie woogie player I have ever heard. He is a total genius prodigy PHENOM. You have to get his CD. It is absolutely awesome, beyond mere words. It will blow you away! And being a pianist myself, I cannot say enough great things about him." -- Toni Nesbitt, pianist, April 1, 2012

"Although he is a practicing psychiatrist and well-known music historian, Tennison is also a top-rank Boogie Woogie piano player and composer whose 'wild man' domination of the keyboard belies his reputation as a scholar and medical doctor." -- Marshall News Messenger, March 15, 2012

"John Tennison, also known as Dr. John Tennison, is a physician, a music historian, and a beast on boogie woogie piano." -- Jack Canson, March 31, 2012

"John Tennison is the real deal." -- Marcia Ball, September 24, 2011, Sam's Burger Joint, San Antonio, Texas

“John Tennison is no ordinary piano player. His boogie woogie piano style is blistering hot and he plays it with an energy that is unrivaled. Both hands like the devil” is a classic example of John’s smokin’ boogie woogie style and here is a musician who will go down as one of the leading boogie woogie greats.” -- Nigel Blamey, Professor of Geochemistry, New Mexico Tech University, February 17, 2010

"Vigorous and inclined to excite the crowd to a height of joy!" -- Mack McCormick, Music and Cultural Historian, December 23, 2006, Houston, Texas

"Watching Nonjohn perform is an unforgettable experience. He is one of the best keyboard artists you are likely to see, and sometimes while playing Boogie Woogie he pushes away his stool and dances behind the electric piano with abandon." -- Jack Canson, Marshall, Texas, January 25, 2010

"Nonjohn's hands move faster than my mind can think." -- Jim Chesnut, Nashville recording artist, October 13, 2007, San Antonio, Texas

"I listen to a lot of different kinds of music and I really am blown away by your music and playing. Thanks for all that you are doing to bring this great music forward into the 21st century!" -- Liz Clare, Author, Austin, Texas, January 30, 2012

"John, I found your videos on YouTube and your playing is amazing. I was googling to learn about barrelhouse piano after reading a historical marker, and I am in love with boogie-woogie now." -- Liz Clare, Author, Austin, Texas, January 27, 2012

"The final musical could only be Boogie Woogie. And we can't think of a better person on Earth to come play the final Boogie Woogie tribute to Omar than Dr. John Tennison." -- Jack Canson, Marshall, Texas, January 14, 2012.

"The musical tributes were some of the best I've seen this whole year, especially Dr. John Tennison playing the old boogie woogie and Wes Jeans' speech about Omar's life." -- Terri Richardson (of the Marshall News Messenger newspaper), posted on the "Marshall Critic" FaceBook page, January 14, 2012.

"You were amazing on that piano!! I enjoyed hearing you play so much." -- Diane Jones, Marshall, Texas, January 14, 2012.

"You ROCKED on that keyboard." -- Jim King, Photographer and writer, on Facebook, January 17, 2012

"....John, you have a wonderful talent. Your remarkable ebullient style of playing makes people feel good. Feeling good is a good thing." -- Thomas Chapman, August 15, 2011

"You're talent was most appreciated by myself and numerous others!" -- Rick Henderson, world-music recording artist, (October 17, 2006, in response to Nonjohn's performance at San Antonio's 2nd Annual Fall Music Festival, presented on October 14, 2006)

"You play so fast, and with such energy! I was inspired to dig out some old Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Airmen albums to hear some more boogie woogie, but they sound slow compared to you. I also found some similar pieces in our 78 collection, some by Albert Ammons, Hadda Brooks, Camille Howard, Frankie Carle, and of course a couple by Tommy Dorsey. But none hold a candle to you, sir!" -- Donna Musselman, Marshall, Texas, Three Oaks Bed & Breakfast, August 6, 2006

"Both Hands Like the Devil..........beautiful!" -- (in response to hearing Nonjohn's Boogie Woogie piece, "Both Hands Like the Devil") -- Robin Bachynski-Powell, May 2, 2006

"Your Concert in Lugano was very great!" -- André Sidler -- Jazz, Swing, Boogie, & Blues Pianist, Lucerne, Switzerland, April 23, 2006.

"The morning that John Tennison played during our worship service was the most excited I've seen our congregation get. It was amazing." -- Stanna Welch, member, First Unitarian Universalist Church, San Antonio, TX, October 20, 2005.

"Unbelievable!" -- says musician, Larry Garlutzo, December 6, 2004. See Video Clip.

In a feature article about Tennison, titled "Boogie Woogie Man," the "prevalent sensation" of Tennison's Boogie Woogie music is said to be "sheer exuberance." (Page 27, July, 2004, Volume 57, Number 6, San Antonio Medicine Magazine).

"....students who have heard him play have used words like 'awesome' and 'incredible' to describe his off-the-wall style of music. So, for at least the next several years, Hopkins students will be treated to the high-tech sounds of John Tennison and a handful of other 'synth' practitioners like him. As one freshman said, 'You just gotta hear it for yourself.'" -- Evan Chuck, John Hopkins University Gazette, 1986

"Tomorrow these hands will remake reality. But that's tomorrow. Right now, they are dancing. Across an electronic keyboard they break, sending up one synthesized symphony after another. Without missing a step, they lead the plastic ivories bam-booming into rock fireworks." -- Robert Kerr, Texarkana Gazette, Page 1C, Sunday, July 13, 1986

"It was probably inevitable that man would one day move from substance to concept, from the finite to the infinite. Making music without instruments. Making reality without matter. We approach a day where we take for granted that nothing is what it seems, where believing the world is tangible will be as antiquated a notion as believing it is flat. John Tennison will while away one more summer shaking the walls of his grandmother's living room with his new music. Then he, and others like him, will go about their business, shaking the foundations of civilization." -- Robert Kerr, Texarkana Gazette, Page 1C, Sunday, July 13, 1986



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