Concert Review: Eric Johnson at The Intersection E-mail
by Jim and Jen Shaneberger

Eric Johnson 2013 There was no opening act, it was simply Eric Johnson. Doors were an hour before he took the stage, and by 8pm all of the theater style seating was filled as were the high tops lining the room. The audience was a mixed group, as it was an all ages show, and several parents had brought their children. The front row was a mix of men and women ages 12-65. It felt like one big family, complete with jokes from the audience as Johnson tuned his guitar.

But, Johnson got right down to business with his acoustic guitar. Opening with a mix of vocals and instrumentals, he really embraced folk traditions up front in the set. He was accompanied by Jerry Holmes, who also appeared to be Eric’s guitar tech, on mandolin for a song.

Following, Johnson welcomed his band, Chris Maresh also from Austin, TX on bass and Wayne Salzmann from Neenah, WI on drums and backing vocals, to the stage. The rhythm section started off a groove and Eric soon reappeared with his trusty Fender Stratocaster. Unfortunately, a technical issue prevented Eric’s guitar signal from being immediately audible, which sent tech Holmes scrambling to Eric’s intricate multiple amp setup to find the source. Luckily, the problem was quickly discovered and remedied. Sadly, the sound engineer also seemed to have trouble with Eric’s amp setup at times, with some tones sounding bright and present, while others sounded muddy and muffled.

Johnson and company continued mixing instrumentals and vocal songs throughout the set, playing vocal classics “Forty Mile Town” and “Desert Rose” back to back, followed immediately by instrumental favorite “Manhattan”. Surprisingly absent from the night’s setlist was EJ’s most well-known song, the Grammy Award winning instrumental guitar workout “Cliffs of Dover”.

Eric Johnson 2013 Johnson showcased his bandmates on the John Coltrane standard “Mr. P.C.”. Bassist Maresh played a solo that was impressive, but at times hard to distinguish, due to his affinity for effects pedals. Salzmann followed with a skilled drum solo that was more traditional, with Johnson and Maresh leaving the stage briefly.

After about 80 minutes of music, Eric gave his thanks to the crowd and the band took a bow and exited the stage. The crowd stood and cheered, beckoning an encore and the band soon reappeared. They played another short instrumental, then closed with a cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic “One Rainy Wish”.

Despite the minor technical issues, the show flowed well. The band and the crowd was in good spirits and there were good vibes all around.

Guitarist Jim Shaneberger splits his time playing with a number of Grand Rapids bands, while wife Jen owns and directs music production company Industry Standard Entertainment. Photos by Paul Jendrasiak.

Eric Johnson 2013

Eric Johnson 2013

Eric Johnson 2013

Eric Johnson 2013

Eric Johnson 2013

Published March 4, 2013

 
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