Having worked with Johnny Hart for many years, with several groups, I have grown a deep appreciation for his musicianship, stagemanship, and frontman abilities. A bulk of the work has been with Buffalo based Irish punkpop group Jack Mahone, where his duties are co-lead singer, accordionist, mandolin, whistles.
I have also worked with his original group, Johnny Hart and the Mess a handful of times, and always dug the vibe. So when he approached me about an upcoming CD release for the group I was intrigued.
The CD, ‘Desertland’ is due to be released this Saturday at a release show at The Tralf. I recently got together with Johnny, and two other ‘Mess’ guys, Nick Myers bass guitar, James Kooken, drums. Guitarist Tyler Wright, and vocalist Courtney Wofford were not available for the sit down.
In regards to the show date, Johnny says, “For everybody that buys a ticket for the show, everyone goes home with a CD copy of the album.” He continues, “for that night as well, they have the option to upgrade for 10 extra bucks the vinyl record that we pressed.” The group hired a Toronto manufacturer to produce sky blue vinyl for this initial pressing.
Also on April 13, Johnny says, “It’s also Record Store Day on April 13, A couple of local shops, Revolver Records, and Black Dots both agreed to carry the vinyl in store, which is really cool. And that day, don’t have the time yet, we will most likely be at the Elmwood store, we’re going to do a 40 minute set or so in front of the record shop, to plug the record, and plug the show. We have a lot going on, it’s going to be a really busy day, but we’re really excited. It’s the most ambitious show we’ve ever done.”
Together for about 18 months with this setup, Johnny recalls finalizing the official lineup. “What we did was, we made our first album, and we didn’t have a bass player. It was James myself and Tyler. We had a variety of bass players to rotate shows. It was tough to get it as tight as we wanted it to be. Tyler had run into Nick at some point, which was ironic, because the first show we played as a band, Nick played in a band before us.”
Nick adds, “It was a battle of the bands, and we both lost.”
We started the album over the fall, right after Thanksgiving, we did it over 4 days.
“Grace Stumberg came in and did about 5 or 6 songs with us on backing vocals, and she changed a lot of dynamics on the songs, she’s just incredible.”
Giving the CD a listen, I found myself traveling through a post Skynyrd/Black Crowes landscape through my ears. Lots of raw energy and soul, certainly worthy of more listens.
Tickets are available now at the Tralf box office for Saturday’s performance
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Jeff Welt Photography (lead image)