Chuck Johnson is one of the pre-eminent players in the current crop of solo guitar practitioners that includes Steve Gunn, James Blackshaw, Daniel Bachman, and many others. Since 2011 and the release of A Struggle Not A Thought on Strange Attractors Audio House, Johnson has released two more records of solo guitar on closely-watched underground labels Three Lobed and Scissor Tail Editions. His latest album Velvet Arc (streaming in full below) is a refinement and expansion of his signature style, adding a rhythm section on some tracks and instrumental flourishes such as violin (played by Marielle Jakobsons) and synthesizer (by Johnson himself). The result is a relative departure for Johnson—particularly the languid, toe-tapping B-side of the record, which slides comfortably “in the pocket” and recalls the Bakersfield country sound.
We spoke with Johnson on an unusually quiet Super Bowl Sunday a few blocks from the studio space he has occupied for years in downtown Oakland.
Velvet Arc is out February 19 on Trouble in Mind. Chuck Johnson plays a record release show at the Starline Social Club in Oakland with Young Moon and films by Paul Clipson on February 28th and Three Lobed Records' 16th Anniversary on March 26 at King's Barcade in Raleigh, North Carolina.