"He ran a swim club, and they used to have these parties, and they'd bring in bands. The guy up the street was a sax player, and they had a band called the Wakinians. I never got to go with him to any clubs or anything, but these pool parties, they'd have all the tiki lights and scotch bottles on all the tables, and all these people going nuts over a Louis Jordan or Louis Prima tune. I'd climb up a tree and watch this and be amazed that at how my father would just walk out there, and he could dance and he could play, and it was pretty cool." Sansone stuck with the saxophone, but was also drawn to the harmonica and guitar.
"I had Jimmy Reed eight-track tapes," he remembers, "and I wanted to play guitar like I heard on these old records." It was Sansone's introduction to the blues, along with records like "One O' Clock Jump" he found in his father's 78 r.p.m. collection. In one of the early examples of his mechanical inclinations, the young Sansone also discovered a way he could "sit in" on a Muddy Waters song. His father ran a jukebox-rental program on the side, and a jukebox that was beaten up and broken beyond repair found a home in the Sansone basement.
"At that time I didn't have an amp, but I was listening to Little Walter and all these guys with really cool tone, and I didn't know anything about amps. So I took this jukebox and cut the wires off from where the needle comes from, and I got this little microphone from a tape deck, and I wired 'em in. I used to put the records on, and I'd punch A-2, put a quarter in the jukebox, and I used to have the coolest tone I think I ever had in my life," he laughs. Although Sansone released several records on King Snake Records it wasnt until he released "Crescent City Moon" on Rounder/Bullseye Blues when he began winning numerous Awards in the Crescent City, including Offbeat magazine's annual "Best of the Beat Awards" where he won four Awards after for Crescent City Moon in 1997.
Sansone won Song of the Year, Best Harmonica Player, Best Blues Band, and Best Blues Album of the Year and the record recieved raves reviews through-out the country. Sansone's second full-length album finds him stretching his creative wings, as a singer, multi-instrumentalist, and most importantly, as a songwriter. -ALL MUISIC GUIDE on Crescent City Moon He later released the follow up recording "Watermelon Patch" on Rounder Records. With Watermelon Patch Sansone seemed to have found his groove and many of the reiews read very simalar to this one.
In addition to his instrumental prowess, what ultimately distinguishes Sansone from the current pack of contemporary harp men is his original compositions. Witness the Wild West-metaphor in "Civilized City," the succinctly crafted chorus and phrasing on "The Bridge," and the full-circle narrative of "Neutral Ground." Whether he's applying those kinds of touches to a stone-blues or a zydeco barnburner, the end result is a unique, highly personal sound. Johnny Sansone's Watermelon Patch makes for sweet listening. -- Scott Jordan A working musician in New Orleans Sansone didnt release another record in almost seven years.
He still played and occasionally appeared on other Artist 's recordings which included THE VOICE OF THE WETLANDS ALLSTARS a band he joined that featured the who's who in New Orleans and Louisiana music. Tab Benoit, Dr John, Cyril Neville, Anders Osborne, Waylon Thibodeaux, George Porter Jr., Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, and Johnny Vidacovich formed the Voice of the Wetlands to bring attention to coastal erosion issues that plague the Gulf Coast. In 2008 he appeared at both the Democrat and Republican conventions with the Voice of the Wetlands Allstars. Before the conventions he released the Anders Osborne produced "Poorman's Paradise" a title track that would be nominated for "Song Of The Year" at the Blues Foundations "Blues Music Awards." Johnny Sansone had come up with a perfect modern equivalent in this album’s title track.
Taking stock of local life over the past two years after hurricane Katrina, he points the fingers in the right direction (his insurance company right alongside Bush and Bronwie); and throws in some pointed lines (“My mother’s out in Houston / my daddy used to be in a grave”) that Newman would likely admire. What makes it work is the music’s tone of muted celebration. His accordion and Doug Garrison’s slowed-down second-line drumming match the steely determination of the lyric. And without underlining the point too hard, Sansone makes it clear that the kind of paradise he’s singing about—where “little people suffer and big shots don’t compromise”—isn’t confined to New Orleans.
The closing "I'm Goin' Home" (not the Ten Years After song), is a mournful yet spiritually uplifting gospel styled ballad that ends this sincere disc on a melancholy and introspective note. It's a fine return for a talented musician who has been out of the scene for far too long. ~ Hal Horowitz, All Music Guide Orleans is filled with artists from all over the world who discovered their true creative and spiritual home in the Crescent City. Many a first-time visitor to the Big Easy, upon soaking up such pleasures as a plate of boiled crawfish, a stroll on the banks of the Mississippi River, or the smell of blooming magnolias down Esplanade Avenue, fall under the city's spell.
Veteran bluesman Johnny Sansone had done his share of traveling, honing his craft in the Austin, Colorado, North Carolina, and Kansas City blues scenes, but after he set up camp in New Orleans in 1989, you'd swear he was born on the bayou. OTHER CRITICS SAY............... It may finally be time to retire Randy Newman’s “Louisiana 1927” as the post-Katrina song that everybody plays at Jazz Fest. After all, Newman was writing about an entirely different hurricane with topical references that don’t necessarily resonate today. You can only work up so much emotion about President Coolidge.
On the other hand, Johnny Sansone has come up with a perfect modern equivalent in this album’s title track. ......The Diamond State Blues Society Jumpin' Johnny Sansone ranks as one of the blues' finest harmonica players. After years of fronting blues bands in Colorado and Texas, and a stint as front-man for Ronnie Earl's band the Broadcasters, Sansone now mixes the standard 'Windy City' harp motifs with equal inspiration from sources such as Chicago guitarist Lonnie Brooks' early Gulf Coast R & B sides, the Louisiana swamp pop of Bobby Charles, and the zydeco accordion mastery of Clifton Chenier. Filtered through Sansone's keen song writing and brought to life with his robust voice and instrumental prowess, these touchstones come alive as a refreshing new entity.........The Ottawa Blues Festival “Johnny Sansone's harmonica playing is downright dazzling! He deserves comparison to such contemporary masters as Kim Wilson and Charlie Musselwhite, but his ace in the hole is his song writing.
If that sounds like inflated praise, just ask anyone who has attended any of his gigs—talent like his wins fans for life.” ~ Blues Revue Magazine "Sansone left his native West Orange, NJ, at 17 in 1975 to attend college in Colorado on a swimming scholarship. He began playing harmonica at age 13, also accompanying himself on guitar. "I was trying to be Jimmy Reed in our basement," he recalled in a 1997 interview. Sansone's father was a professional saxophonist who played with various jazz groups on the Newark, NJ, club scene." Read more on Last.fm.
User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
show me more