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L.A. Beat

Sit Down Servant blends gospel with blues and reggae

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Gordie Johnson, best known for fronting Big Sugar, is not afraid to experiment and whatever he does, it turns out sounding pretty cool. He brought his new duo Sit Down Servant, featuring Big Sugar drummer Stephane Beaudin  to Scores, Oct. 29. And sure enough, it was pretty cool and unlike anything else you may have seen before.


“We are sGordie Johnson with Sit Down Servant. Photo by Richard Amerytrictly here to freak you out,” Johnson rumbled to begin his show.  And he was as good as his word. He sat behind an array of instruments including a mouth organ/mini-keyboard, Moog bass pedals, a collection of guitar effects and three steel guitars, none of which he made sound anything remotely like country music which is what steel guitars are mostly known for.


He laid down a hypnotic, spacey groove incorporating a lot of blues, Hawaiian music and  gospel with just a touch of reggae. That’s where the mouth organ/ mini keyboard came came in. He made the steel guitars sigh and moan and hiss and groan all the while stomping out a reggae groove on his bass pedals. Meanwhile Beaudin kept up, injecting copious amounts of jazz into his drumming.


For the more reggae infused songs, he blew into a tube on this unusual mouth organ, which looks like a child’s toy to add horn and accordion sounds to the music.

Sit Down Servant drummer Stephane Beaudin. Photo by Richard Amery
 He didn’t sing on very many of the songs, but when he did, it was on the gospel songs and more straight ahead blues for which he played slide guitar on a Les Paul.


 Some of the more bluesy highlights from their album were “Tired All The Time” and  “Blackbird Bakery Pie Blues,” though they played most of the album.


 He also sung a stunning jam of “Swing  Low Sweet Chariot,”  after which he played the same melody with reggae twist on the steel guitar.
 One of his steel guitars sounded like an East Indian Mohan Veena. For the opposite to that he even played some Pink Floyd on the steel guitar.
“ It’s no secret that I learned off Mahalia Jackson’s albums,” he said in one of the few times he addressed the enraptured crowd other than to thank them for listening he followed it up by playing an instrumental of one of those songs.


 He finished off the show by playing a hot version of “When The Levee Breaks” on steel guitar.
Matthew Robinson and friends opened the show.

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 06 November 2013 12:47 )  
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