Foot Hill Stomp
Richard Johnston was born in Houston Texas. He studied Sociology and Philosophy at San Diego State University. Left for Japan, studied at Gifu University for a year and stayed an additional four years as a burgeoning musician. When he was invited to perform at the first Blues Stock in Memphis in 1997, he returned home. He was scheduled to perform with someone he had not heard of at the time: Junior Kimbrough. Junior no-showed due to health reasons. Out of curiosity, Richard found his way to a little out-of-the-way joint in Chulahoma where he heard Junior's band The Soul Blues Boys, minus Junior, playing the music that would forever change his life: north Mississippi hill country blues -- a rockin' and very hypnotic style of the blues. The world took notice of the music of Northern Mississippi when music archeologist Robert Palmer released his Deep Blues documentary in the early '90s to great critical acclaim. This led to recording contracts for R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, and Frank Frost, who soon released records on the newly-founded Fat Possum Records. A few years later Junior Kimbrough opened a juke joint called Junior's Place in Chulahoma, MS. Junior, for the most part, was not physically able to tour. To hear Junior play you had to go to Mississippi. Rock bands such as The Rolling Stones, Sonic Youth, and U2 all made pilgrimages. When Junior Kimbrough died in 1998, Richard Johnston (who by then was an adopted son of the Hemphill/Kimbrough clan) approached Junior's band The Soul Blues Boys (basically consisting of Kimbrough's kids and nephews) about continuing the Sunday dances. And so it happened that a white guitarist and a black rhythm section rocked the joint until it burned to the ground in 2000. Johnston went back to Beale Street with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a heart full of hill country blues. A year later, Richard Johnston won the 2001 International Blues Talent competition award, the last solo act to beat all bands (now the competition is separated into solo/band). He also won the 2001 Albert King award as most promising blues guitarist. Ever since then, you can hear him play in front of the New Daisy Theatre on Beale Street in Memphis working as a street musician and one-man band -- as Richard is playing guitar, bass and drums simultaneously. His debut album, Foot Hill Stomp, originally released in 2002, was recorded with the help of Jesse Mae Hemphill, Cedric Burnside, Mark Simpson, and Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms. Loaded with standards from the north Mississippi hill country, the locomotive power of Foot Hill Stomp has the raw rhythmic drive of a primal entity that will infuse itself into the dark, primitive recesses of your primordial senses. Or: That guy sure can play!