Justin Johnson | Smoke & Mirrors

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Blues: Guitar Blues Folk: Folk Blues Moods: Instrumental
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Smoke & Mirrors

by Justin Johnson

This highly anticipated double album "Smoke & Mirrors" is the most comprehensive musical statement yet made, about the past, present, and future of handmade American Roots instruments. A musical journey that will have you spellbound from the first note.
Genre: Blues: Guitar Blues
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down
4:53 $1.11
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2. Wade in the Water
2:50 $1.11
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3. Down By the Riverside
4:28 $1.11
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4. When the Saints Go Marching In
4:10 $1.11
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5. Underwater Stroll
4:35 $1.11
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6. Baby, Don't You Tear My Clothes
3:24 $1.11
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7. The House of the Rising Sun
3:55 $1.11
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8. In the Pines
3:38 $1.11
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9. Phone Call from God (On a Stormy Night in a Knoxville Hotel Room)
5:10 $1.11
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10. St. James Infirmary
5:17 $1.11
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11. Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground
4:04 $1.11
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12. Midnight At the Crossroads
3:31 $1.11
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13. Grinnin' in Your Face
3:53 $1.11
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14. Home Sweet Home
2:32 $1.11
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15. I Shall Not Be Moved
2:44 $1.11
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16. Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down (Acoustic)
3:03 $1.11
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17. Talk About Suffering
2:51 $1.11
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18. You Got to Move
3:35 $1.11
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19. Down By the Riverside (Acoustic)
3:47 $1.11
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20. Banks of the Ohio
3:54 $1.11
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21. Amazing Grace
5:06 $1.11
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22. Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground (Acoustic)
4:05 $1.11
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Justin Johnson's highly anticipated double album "Smoke & Mirrors" is the most comprehensive musical statement yet made, about the past, present, and future of handmade American Roots instruments~ A sensory immersive musical journey that will have you spellbound from the first note.
Declared "a MUST for any blues lover" by Vinny Marini, "Music on the Couch"

The "Smoke" album highlights the builds of some of the most talented, innovative, and artistic luthiers in the world today. "Smoke" was recorded at the legendary Sun Studio, the “Birthplace of Rock & Roll,” using the studio’s combination of vintage equipment and modern technology to showcase the corresponding qualities in the 18 modern roots instruments featured.

The "Mirrors" album is a historical retrospective that showcases American Roots instruments, through acoustic recordings on 8 pre-WWII relic instruments from Bill Jehle's Cigar Box Guitar Museum. For these recordings, we traveled down the historic Blues Highway 61 to capture acoustic field recordings at the authentic Crossroads of Blues legend, and at Shack Up Inn on the historic Hopson Plantation in Clarksdale Mississippi, “The Birthplace of the Blues.”

Internationally touring and recording artist Justin Johnson arranged and performed all of the tracks on “Smoke & Mirrors”, capturing and showcasing the unique voices of dozens of one-of-a-kind Roots instruments from around the globe. These captivating arrangements bravely blur the lines between genres such as Roots Blues, Traditional Folk, Chicago Blues, Blues Rock, Jazz, Dixieland, and a few that don’t have names... yet!

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Reviews


to write a review

Ken

History of music
Love this CD! Can I get the liner notes that tell which instrument was used for each song. I would also like to know some history on the instruments.
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Adam Kovarik

Moody Blues Music
Right from the start a mood is set, haunting sounds of the past played with precision capturing a style of music almost forgotten. The production is of notable quality, the arrangements are clever and the performance are captivating. The first time I listen to the album in it entirety, I needed to listen to it again. Inspiring work.
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Slim Terrorizer

An amazing piece of work
I bought this album in a Cigar Box guitar shop in Paris (FR) and was amazed by how magic, true & beautiful this double album is !
It brings you back into the roots of music, and another dimension.
Some of the songs could even be used movies.
And also the booklet gives you the history of each instrument that has been used to create the unique sound of this wonderful record.
By listening to this album, you'll understand why his nickname is "The Wizard" !
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Barry Kaatz

Smoke & Mirrors
This is not just a music album but a History lesson on handmade roots instruments. It is also a look into the future and what we see is that the tradition of these kind of instruments will continue thanks to musicians like Justin Johnson. The double CD is must have.
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Humidor Guitars

This is what roots music is all about
It is rare for an artist to combine music and history, and roll it all into a single package. The way this was accomplished is truly unique. The decision to procure antique instruments, fabricate jigs that would allow those fragile instruments to be played without risk of damage, travel to the birthplace of the blues, and perform/record music in the very places that the pioneers of blues/roots music played so many years ago is nothing short of inspirational! Add Justin's virtuosity at playing any instrument that has strings, and you wind up with a double album that is simply delicious! Justin and Nikki put an enormous amount of work into every detail of this album, and it shows. The liner notes are detailed, with complete information about which instruments were used for each track. Kudos to the entire Smoke & Mirrors team for producing this unique album.
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Bob

A Masterful Must-Have
Wow. Just.... wow. Johnson takes us on a wonderful musical tour of classic American roots music of the Mississippi delta. This wonderful double-CD set has no lyrics, no vocals. But, you can hear the voices of Robert Johnson, Lead Belly, James Cotton and a host of others come though in the music Johnson lovingly lays down for us. I've talked to several people who have this set and each has a different favorite song. Some, like me, have a hard time identifying a favorite. One moment its "In The Pines", the next its "Midnight at the Crossroads", a minute later its "You Got To Move'. I finally decided having a favorite is pointless - every song here is amazing in its own way.
You'll really want to sit down and *listen* to this CD. For me, its put the top down on a sunny day and go for a long drive along the backwater blue highways of the rural south. Crank up Smoke & Mirrors and just.... drive. Its the perfect soundtrack to rural crossroads, railroad trestles, and mom-n-pop diners along the road. You'll see ghosts standing there, guitar slung across their back or resting on a knee, preaching their hardships and loves to any that will listen. You'll hear it in the music; you'll feel it in the air. You will LOVE this CD!
And, do yourself a favor - get the full physical CD with the massive sets of liner notes detailing the wonderful people and instruments involved in bringing this masterpiece to your ears.
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Mark Wilmot

A Blues Convert
Little music moves me these days. So, when I do find a musician who plays in a way that makes me think of nothing else but the music I tend to buy it. It's difficult not to listen to Smoke & Mirrors from start to finish as opposed to each song. It seems more of a journey than a group of individual songs. Worth listening to. Often.
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Ivan Mulia

awesome journey!
pertama liat justin di youtube, saya membayangkan musik yang atraktif pada album ini..
tetapi ketika saya menerima cd ini, diluar dugaan tapi juga mengejutkan.. ini lebih dari yang saya harapkan!
in other word:
this is awesome!! a must for CBG lovers, as well as delta and folk music fans..
welldone my friend!
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Bruce Trappes

Smoke & Mirrors
REVIEW of SMOKE & MIRRORS
Smoke and Mirrors is an incredibly unique 2 disk CD album.
It acknowledges the old blues masters, the cigar box guitar builders of today and yesteryear, but also those early unknown musicians and their instruments, straight out of the cotton fields of the Mississippi delta.
The packaging and graphics alone shout quality and committment.
Inside the front cover, there is a detailed explanation of the concept, the research that Justin & Nikki undertook, and those people involved in the creation of the album.
You can almost feel the passion.....no stone has been left unturned....only the best people & appropriate locations were used in the production.
I strongly advise anyone purchasing this album to read "Smoke & Mirrors: Behind the Curtain", before listening to the CDs....it primes you for what you are about to hear.
Inside the pocket of the front cover is a 24 page full colour booklet that explains the song titles and instrumentation used in "Smoke"
Once again this is a quality publication with numerous pictures of the instruments used, and acknowledgement to those who built them.
Inside the back cover there is another booklet that covers the "Mirror" CD....another must read before listening.
SMOKE:
Here Justin Johnson stamps his own personal style, playing a variety of modern day cigar box guitars & diddley bows.
The tunes are often old favourites, but that's where familiarly ends...the arrangement of each tune really showcases Justin's skill level and unique playing style.
My favourite on the "Smoke" CD is Wade in the Water.....
Justin Johnson makes a one string diddley bow, sing, scream, whisper and drip blood sweat and tears. Very haunting!!
All other tunes on Smoke, are in a similar vein highlighting Justin's musical talents to the max,
I've never really liked St. James Infirmary Blues. It's so depressing....until now.
Justin puts his own unique style and arrangement to it, so now I listen intently for those extra enhancements that turn it into a pleasure to listen to....it seems to have a better rhythm under Justin's influence.
MIRRORS:
The second CD "Mirrors" is a tribute to the builders, and resurrection of their original instruments (some over 100 years old).
This CD immediately plants the listener ankle deep in the mud on the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta.
Resurrection is the only word you can use.......it brings to life the sounds these instruments once made, so they sing once more.
What a brilliant concept!
Many of these instruments were so fragile they had to be put into a brace, to be able to withstand the stresses placed on them by the sting tension.
(The picture on the front cover of the Album depicts one such instrument in a brace).
Once again there are many familiar tunes with Justin's own musical enhancements, but the difference here is that these very instruments already have a history all their own, and Justin brings them back to life.
Anyone can create an album in a recording studio, but in this instance, Justin, Nikki & crew have travelled to the places where the music was originally played, and in so doing, they have captured the very essence of originality and history, through music.
The research, the commitment, the venues, the instruments & the passion borne out by Justin's skilful playing, provide one with a wonderful sensual musical experience.
CONCLUSION
This double album in my view is a piece of Afro American music history. It highlights the instruments built by the creators of the blues.....not just those who made it "big time" but also the slaves and dirt farmers who found some degree of solace playing instruments that they had created by hand from objects that were readily obtainable at the time.
And out of that creativity, came the blues, jazz, gospel, and rock and roll.
So where does this double album fit?
Right next to the Alan Lomax tapes on the top shelf.
If you are a genuine fan of blues & roots music, and the history that drives it, this album is a "must have".
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Charles

Wow!
When I heard his Christmas album I was completely blown away and then I got these CDs with the photo booklets that speak of the history of the guitars used on the album (vintage and new) as well as the incredible story of the journey that surrounded the making of these songs from the recordings at Sun Studio to the Crossroads recording and the magic that was actually caught on tape at the end of a recording there at midnight! On top of all of that is some of the finest traditional slide guitar playing you'll ever hear. If you like roots music, traditional blues and incredible guitar playing then you are truly gonna dig this.
Honestly it deserves a rating higher than 5 stars.
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