Don Johnson - Donald Ray
(MarVista Music) MV3.79513-410322

   For several years now blues fans in Western Canada have been blessed with the residence of Texas bluesman Don Johnson in Calgary, Alberta. Johnson leads two lives; one as a solo artist (he's got a tremendous voice) and the other as a touring drummer with California blues legend Phillip Walker. Johnson, like several other African American blues artists fell in love with 'cow-town' and its appreciative blues audience and opted to make it a permanent base.

   Johnson is a former Grammy winner with the R &B group Taste of Honey(Boogie Oogie Oogie) but his real roots go back to his Texas upbringing and he's been around, paying his dues for the last forty years. This CD is Johnson's second solo CD that I'm aware or and it's solid modeern blues with clean, tight production and Johnsons great voice right up front. For some reason he opts not to play drums, leaving that chore to John Pain who does a funky job (I believe Pain is a student of Johnson's). Once glance at the CD jacket reveals Johnson's only weakness, he relies heavily on well-worn standards (Stagger Lee, Tobacco Road, Georgia on My Mind, Sweet Sixteen, Sky is Crying) although, in his defense, he offers fresh new arrangements for all of them and the performances are superb.

   Of the 11 tracks, only 2 are Johnson originals, but they are both great turns and one wishes Johnson would take time to develop a whole album of his very fine compositions. The best of Calgary's very healthy blues community are here lending support with tight and talented performances (kudos to Ron Casat, Bill Johnson, Joe Campbell, Carl Vickers, and Pat Beliveau) and the overall verdict is that 'Donald Ray' reveals Don Johnson to be an exceptionally fine vocalist and one of Canada's best blues talents

-Andy Grigg
Real Blues Magazine