New Orleans based Eric Johanson was tearing up nightclub stages in Louisiana with his soulful blues guitar before he finished high school. He has toured across the US and internationally as lead guitarist for the legendary Cyril Neville, Grammy-winning Zydeco artist Terrance Simien, and performed onstage with Tab Benoit, JJ Grey & Mofro, Eric Lindell, Mike Zito, Anders Osborne, the Neville Brothers, and many more.
Recently signed to Whiskey Bayou Records, his debut album Burn It Down was produced and engineered by Tab Benoit at his studio in Houma, featuring Tab on drums, and Corey Duplechin on bass. Following it's release in October of 2017, Eric has been touring across the US supporting Tab Benoit at sold out theaters and performance halls.
In early 2019, Eric released Blues In My Blood, a duet record with his first cousin, New Orleans blues & jazz singer Tiffany Pollack. The album has stayed in the top 10 of Roots Music Report's Blues Rock chart for 7 months since it's release, and has won an Independent Music Award for "Best Blues Song" and a Blues Blast Magazine Award for "Best New Artist Debut Album".
The one common thread that runs through all of Louisiana music is Soul. You can feel it in the music as it transcends from musician to listener, joining them for a singular musical journey - the song. Eric Johanson knows that journey well.
There are many ways that a musician discovers their musical path. Not unlike many Louisiana musicians, Eric’s path was through his family where he was surrounded by music. Eric Johanson was born and raised in musically and culturally enriched Alexandria, Louisiana. His grandfather owned a music store where his first guitar was purchased when he was 5 years old. Like many Louisiana families music is the crest with a foundation that goes back generations and is often the life blood which brings families closer and keeps families together. “On my mother’s side everyone played music. My Grandfather played Jazz Clarinet and tuned pianos. My Grandmother played piano and sang in the choir and my aunts played Cello and bass” Eric Johanson “I remember lying awake at night and thinking about music and how I could make it my life.”
Alexandria being a few hours from New Orleans made it an easy drive along with his mother to visit friends in the city. At 15 years old Eric was sitting in at New Orleans music venues, including The Rivershack and Mandeville’s Ruby’s Roadhouse, where Eric played guitar with older musicians and was constantly tested. New Orleans would eventually be his home until 2005 Hurricane Katrina. After losing everything to the hurricane, Eric moved to New Zealand in 2006. When he returned New Orleans in 2010 he began to be the featured guitarist for legendary band leaders Cyril Neville, Terrance Simien, and Corey Henry’s & Treme Funktet. “Cyril taught me a ton about New Orleans history, culture, and music - especially funk. He’s one of the pioneers of creating that whole style, from the Meters to the Neville Brothers. I learned so much from Cyril about how to use guitar not only as a lead, but as a percussion instrument in the band” Eric Johanson “When I started playing with Terrance really I didn’t know much about Zydeco music, despite having heard it growing up. Terrance taught me a lot about the history of the Creole people and where Zydeco music came from.”
On BURN IT DOWN, Eric takes you on his journey through life and all of its love and hardships. The title track (Burn It Down) is a statement about restructuring your life and path, while weeding out things and people who are positive from the ones who hold you back. In the chilling to the bone GRAVEYARD QUEEN, you can imagine a sultry woman slowly dancing while laying a trail of destruction, leaving you suspicious and unable to trust again. On the Delta driven THE FUGITIVE, Eric tackles the subject of unconditional love. The Fugitive is a guy on the run from the law who’s been saved by a woman that lets him hide out and gives him a new chance at life.
On BURN IT DOWN Eric Johanson is backed on drums by Tab Benoit and Corey Duplechin on bass guitar. Eric’s blues run deep and on “Burn It Down,” an 11 song CD produced by Tab Benoit, his versatile style stays within the blues framework making BURN IT DOWN a sequence of fresh, soulful blues rock tracks. Burn It Down was recorded at Tab Benoit’s Whiskey Bayou Studio in Louisiana. The record was recorded Live with just a few overdubs. “That’s Tab’s way of producing and it definitely keeps you from over-thinking things" - Eric Johanson.
“BURN IT DOWN is bluesy without having any traditional blues structures,” says Eric Johanson. “While it was my intention to make a 'blues' record, Tab really encouraged me to do more of the songs with something unique and different about them. As Tab Benoit told me, 'the blues is a feeling, not a pattern'."
“I always liked blues-influenced rock growing up, but what really got me hooked was the fact that if you learned how to play blues, you could play with all these musicians you’d never met before. It’s a common language, and once you understand the basics, you can get in there and start expressing yourself. From the first time I played onstage with a band at 13, it was blues. And no matter what style of music I may have been trying to create at different times in my life, if i picked up a guitar without thinking about it - what came out was blues. Blues is all about the performance and the moment. You have a general road map but you don’t know what specific notes you’re going to play, and you’re experiencing it being created at the same time as the audience. It’s the best feeling in the world.” Eric Johanson