Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wanda Johnson - Call Me Miss Wanda

Wanda Johnson IMG_1049, originally uploaded by NoVARon.

One of the very pleasant surprises at the 2006 Pocono Blues Festival was the performance from South Carolina singer Wanda Johnson who was backed by a tight combo led by pianist Shrimp City Slim (Gary Erwin). Opening with a lively song about telling her lover he’s history, 'I‘m Through With You,' Johnson enthralled the Pocono audience at the Friday Night concert she performed at, whether singing a bluesy rocker or a soulful ballad. She has a marvelous voice and delivery and the band provided tight, punchy backing. At the Festival, this writer picked up her 2004 debut album, "Call Me Miss Wanda" (Erwin Music) which contained some of the same musical magic I had experienced at the Festival. Comprised of originals by her and Erwin, the album is full of lively, heart felt performances whether the rocking blues of "I’m Through With You," the gospel-tinged soul of "The River," or the lovely ballad "Always" with some nice backing harp. "If I Rise in the Morning" opens with some nice guitar before she tells her man that he may not think she he is strong enough or smart enough to be on her, but one thing’s for sure, she ain’t waking up next to him. "Finally Back" is a nice rocker celebrating the blues as she recites a litany of blues greats and songs including Eddie Boyd, Memphis Minnie, Lightnin’ Slim, Muddy Waters, Roosevelt Sykes, Jimmy Reed, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Bessie Smith and Bo Diddley. Never does she get shrill or exaggerate her delivery, rather her delivery is smooth like honey, yet her delivery does not sweeten up her better barbs at her mistreating man while the band is right in the pocket and the solos are well played, and to the point. I have been listening to this regularly for over a month and the recording still sounds fresh and is one of this listener’s favorite recordings of 2006. Wanda has a more recent CD, "Natural Resource," which I more recently purchased. It is a good CD but neither the songs nor performances seem to be as good as those on "Call Me Miss Wanda." I suspect I may warm up to it upon further listening. Both CDs can be purchased on, and you can contact Erwin Music directly at PO Box 13525, Charleston, SC 29422 ((843) 762-9125), or email

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