Chris Johnson was born and raised in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, schooled in St. Louis, Missouri and then lived in NYC briefly before settling back down in St. Louis in 1986. Chris started his adult artistic life as a painter first, then a poet, before returning to his boyhood love of songwriting in the early nineties. Picked as "Best Un-Folkie Coffeehouse Folkie" in 1999 and "Best Songwriter" in 2004 by the Riverfront Times, Johnson has also fronted the band Pye-Dog, a three-piece blues, folk 'n roll combo.
Riverfront Times and No Depression critic Roy Kasten has written:
"Johnson plays well, but his music is rarely pretty: his worn, almost Tom Waitsian voice spades through earthy, witty songs, and his banged up but beautiful Gibson rings with a raw thwack and sting that may hail from the blues but also sounds like nothing else in town."
"Chris Johnson would be better known if his voice wasn't such an irascible instrument, if his guitar work wasn't so taut and fraught with the densest blues, if his songs didn't cut so damn deeply. His brand of acoustic folk isn't easy listening, but then neither is the best of Townes Van Zandt or Bob Dylan, the two masters whose lessons he has absorbed. Though he occasionally appears with a barely electrified combo called Pye-Dog, you're more likely to hear the wail and pine of his harmonica and the stomp of his boot heel when he performs solo at coffee shops or Frederick's Music Lounge. And though he's been writing and performing in St. Louis for about a decade, he keeps getting better, as anyone who has heard his recent, heart-crushing song 'Down in Lemay' will tell you."
Frederick's Music Lounge, various coffeehouses
Solo acoustic singer/songwriter in country blues tradition-- Dylan and Neil Young are influences. I like Ray Bonneville and Stefan George as well, as well as older bluesmen like Gary Davis and Lightnin Hopkins. Townes Van Zandt.
Gibson and National guitars. Hohner harmonicas.