River City Demo
Amateur Radio Operator
Amateur Radio Operator was the solo-performance manifestation of Mark Johnson, who used to appear as part of Yeek Yak Airforce, but now its become a proper ensemble (albeit one with flexible personnel). Much as I wish I could say that Mark and I work together, its more accurate to say that we work for the same company and (regrettably rarely) have worked on projects together. Marks a brilliant, electrically hypercharged person with talents blasting out in every direction, and this demo CD is only a temporary corralling of the wildfire beast.
Im still trying to put my finger on what exact musical memory Marks solo style awakens in me hes tapping some serious backwoods Mississippi-to-Kentucky ground in his vocals, although the songs themselves are freer-form than that milieu, but aside from picturing Robert Plant in a fondue of hillbilly backwaters I cant quite identify the sound Mark evokes even though I know I know it in some distant memory (and perhaps its distant memory hes channelling). Regardless of resemblances and derivations, however, its quite purely himself here, him as I dont even know him despite seeing him daily for 6 years.
Having said all that, I have to add that the track River City is a gorgeous bit of Delta blues guitar work, complete with slide. (And Im pretty sure thats Marks dog Orion barking in the background at the end.) Amateur Radio Operator, the track that follows it, is a more alienating dreamscape by comparison. These two tracks back-to-back are an excellent display of the scope Marks presenting.
This is raw talent flowing pure from the source, alarmingly so, and I hesitate to try to constrain it by description; really all I can say is get a copy of this for your ownself and see how you react. For me, its an intensely unique gem, albeit a twangily rustic one.
Mark has a couple of web presences, neither quite fully established yet:
Comments © 2005 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.