Johnny Rawls

Johnny Rawls

Catfood Records announces a September 1 release date for Walking Heart Attack, the new album from Blues Music Award-winning singer Johnny Rawls. Produced by Johnny Rawls, Walking Heart Attack was recorded at the Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, Texas, and mixed by Grammy-winner Jim Gaines at Bessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, Tennessee. On the new disc, Johnny Rawls (all vocals and guitar on tracks 7 and 8) is backed by his long-standing recording unit, The Rays: Johnny McGhee – guitar; Bob Trenchard – bass; Richy Puga – drums; Dan Ferguson – keyboards; Andy Roman – sax solos; Mike Middleton – trumpet; Nick Flood – baritone/tenor/alto sax; Frank Otero – trombone; with Jon Olazabal – percussion; and backing vocals by Janelle Thompson and Shakara Weston.

The ten tracks on Walking Heart Attack include a number of original songs either written by Johnny Rawls, record label head Bob Trenchard, or co-written by the two, as well as another song, “Heal Me,” penned by Catfood Records label mate Derrick Procell. Continuing his tradition of recording a song on each album associated with the legendary O.V. Wright (Johnny was his former guitarist and band director), Rawls reprises the Wright classic, “Born All Over;” and also works his magic on a song previously recorded by another soul music great, Otis Clay, with a powerful take on “Trying To Live My Life Without You.” Before Clay’s untimely passing Johnny and Otis recorded an album together, Soul Brothers, released in 2014 on Catfood Records. The wild card in the deck here is Johnny’s soulful reading of the Bruce Springsteen classic, “Hungry Heart,” which transports that song from the Jersey Shore to the Deep South.

Johnny Rawls is a soul blues legend.  With a career spanning more than 50 years, he’s done it all.  He’s an internationally recognized recording artist, music producer, and songwriter, who tours extensively throughout North America and overseas. Three of Johnny’s albums on Catfood Records have made the DownBeat Magazine Critics’ Choice Best of the Year List.  Waiting For The Train and Tiger In A Cage both stayed at #1 on Roots Music Report Soul Blues chart for several weeks.

The Blues Music Awards, Blues Blast Awards, Living Blues Awards, and the W. C. Handy Awards have all acknowledged Johnny with multiple awards and nominations, including Soul Blues Album of the Year and Soul Blues Artist of the Year.  Living Blues magazine described him as a “soul-blues renaissance man” when he was featured on the cover in 2002.  Johnny is honored to be mentioned on two markers along the Mississippi Blues Trail – one in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, marking the Hi-Hat Club, and another in Rocklin, Maine marking the migration of blues from Mississippi to Maine.

Born in Columbia, Mississippi, in 1951, Johnny grew up in Purvis (near Hattiesburg) and Gulfport.  Johnny’s interest in music began in early childhood. He started out playing clarinet in the school band when he was in 5th grade.  Over the next couple of years, he graduated to saxophone, trumpet, and other instruments.  Johnny became interested in guitar when he heard his grandfather playing one Christmas morning and by age 13 was playing guitar seriously.  Johnny’s high school band teacher had a professional band that backed touring soul artists and asked Johnny to join his band as a saxophone player. This began Johnny’s professional career, and at age 15, he was backing artists including ZZ Hill, Little Johnny Taylor, Joe Tex, and The Sweet Inspirations on their tours in the Southeast.  In the mid-1970s, Johnny became the band director for soul singer O.V. Wright and toured with O.V. until his death in 1980.  Wright’s band, under Johnny’s leadership, continued to perform as the Ace of Spades band for several years.  Then, Johnny became the band director for Little Johnny Taylor.

In 1985, Johnny began touring as a solo artist and made his first solo recording.  A prolific songwriter, hundreds of Johnny’s songs have been recorded. He has released more than 15 albums since his debut solo album, Here We Go, in 1996 on JSP Records, where he later worked as an arranger and record producer.  He has released albums on various labels, including Catfood Records and his own label, Deep South Soul, which he created in 2002. The Blues Music Awards (and its predecessor, the W.C. Handy Awards) frequently recognize his work. To date, ten of Johnny’s albums have been nominated for Soul Blues Album of the Year, with I’m Still Around winning in 2019 and Ace of Spades winning in 2010. He has been nominated for Soul Blues Male Artist eleven times and received one nomination for Song of the Year.  Roots Music Report declared his 2017 release, Waiting for the Train, one of the top 50 blues albums of the year. Johnny also has multiple nominations/awards from Blues Blast and Living Blues.

A true “road warrior,” Johnny tours extensively throughout the US, and internationally, playing approximately 200 dates every year. He’s performed at major blues festivals, including the Chicago Blues Festival and the Waterfront Blues Festival multiple times. Whether he’s playing in a small intimate club or at a large blues festival, Johnny always delivers a high-energy show to the delight of audiences everywhere. Dates @