Kevin Johnson’s earliest influences were in the early 60’s as he tried playing along to his Dad’s marching band albums, and his older siblings albums of Dave Brubeck Quartet, electric Bob Dylan, blues, the on-coming Beatles and beyond.
Kevin joined the school band in 3rd grade in 1963 and was fortunate enough to have an ambitious teacher that was fond of percussion. Kevin earned a part playing the bongos in a cool Latin-style piece during one of their concerts that year. He played in the school band all the way through high school.
Having played in the school bands (whether marching or concert band) he had learned discipline, communication, dynamics and to work in an ensemble (some as large as 75 players).
It wasn’t until 1977 when he was 22 that he purchased his 1st used drum set. This period of playing proved to be very creative. Playing for 8 – 10 hours with long 1 hour jams definitely improved his musical vocabulary and stamina. During this time Kevin had also acquired and began playing the upright bass, which helped with his overall understanding of music structure and composition.
Kevin’s musical interests have been that of the Grateful Dead (having seen them over 140 times), the New Riders of the Purple Sage, Hot Tuna, Jefferson Airplane, the blues, acoustic or electric, and the high lonesome sound of bluegrass.
Having played in several “local” bands, Kevin’s style became apparent that he had more of a swing style and lighter touch with an emphasis on dynamics while always leaning towards the improvisational side of things and listening to all of the musicians when and whatever was being played.
Kevin’s drumming influences have been from seeing and hearing Billy Kruetzman of the Grateful Dead, Levon Helm of The Band, Joe Morello of the Dave Bruebeck Quartet, Sammy Piazza of Hot Tuna, Spencer Dryden of the Jefferson Airplane and the New Riders, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith from Muddy Waters band and many others.
It was June 17th 2011 that Kevin had the first opportunity to play with the Juggling Suns. Since then he has been a regular in Mark Diomede’s Alligator band.
“The new Penque-Diomede Band is the latest and most exciting thing I have been involved with musically” says Kevin. “This band comes with handfuls of original music from Ronnie Penque and Mark Diomede. This band allows me to add my “melodic” and “let go” approach to our songs and jams where we always find new musical horizons.”