First of all, HUGE thanks to all of you who have ordered your copy of my new album, Into the Hollows! Seriously - thank you! I'm so pleased by the support.
Now for the slightly not so great news - I need to postpone the official release to Monday March 6th - we had a technical glitch that will be resolved by then - so you will received your digital album codes MONDAY rather than tomorrow, but it'll be worth the wait!
After three years of work, I'm finally releasing my very first solo album: Into the Hollows. It is now available for pre-order - if you order the physical CD, you will also receive a copy of the digital album as well. I'll be shipping these out as soon as they arrive (March 3 or thereabouts).
I had some amazing friends guest on this including Dave Ervin, Chris Buckley, Jaycie Skidmore, Cara Wildman, Kathryn Powell, Amanda Carlson, Matthew Cook, Scooter Muse, Martin McCall, Wolf Loescher, and Chad Johnson (my husband) who played some guitar and also did the final mixes and mastering of the album.
I am immensely proud of the work we all did on this album and so honored to share it with all of you. All of these are songs that spoke to me and tell a compelling story. My hope is that you enjoy listening to this music as much as we enjoyed making it. And thank you in advance for your support! I have the best group of friends and fans anyone could ask for.
Just learned a new term and that is Twixmas - the days between Christmas and New Years. During these days, we take some time to relax, enjoy family time, or if you're me, quarantine with the flu away from family!
In between doses of Theraflu, that magical elixer, I've been gathering in all of my exciting news to share with all of you. I've got several fun things to share with you all.
First of all - The Selkie Girls will be back at NTIF this year March 3-5, Fair Park in Dallas, TX. It was one of the first festivals we ever played and we are excited to be back again this year in our hometown. We may be adding some additional dates, so watch this space and also watch www.theselkiegirls.com for additional dates this year.
Important point on this one - make sure you if you sign up, you let them know Jaycie and I brought you there! There's lots of Celtic acts coming on the tour, and we want to make sure they know we were part of the reason you signed up. I can't wait for both of these awesome trips and the opportunity to hang with all of our friends and fans. Y'all are the best.
Happy New Year, y'all! 2022 is just a breath away, and I don't know about you, but I am MORE than ready for what this next year promises to bring. I've got lots of news to announce and also some to tease.
First the announcements:
The Selkie Girls
Check out my SHOWS page to see as I add new dates. The Selkie Girls are going back on tour this spring down south (yay!) We've got several dates booked and are continuing to add more each week. If you've missed The Selkie Girls, meet me in Texas and I promise you'll get a chance to see us - whether it's at North Texas Irish Festival (NTIF) or Sherman Celtic Festival, or if a more intimate, artistic show is your jam, we've got some of those including at Mesquite Arts Center. Keep watching the Shows tab for updates. I've missed my band like crazy, and we are determined to make this a very special spring.
Alli Johnson Music Studio
My studio continues to grow and thrive. I have literally the best students and am so honored to be the teacher to each and every one of them. I'm currently teaching Scottish and Irish songs, general voice, guitar, and ukulele. Thanks to all who have supported my studio and chosen me as their instructor. Keep me in mind if you're in the market for a music teacher, or know someone who is - I'm still accepting new students. Check out my LESSONS tab for more info.
Along with my very good friend, Matthew Cook and for our beloved Traditional Irish Music Education Society, I will be hosting a series of workshops with some of the best Irish, Scottish, and Celtic Folk singers in the world. Visit the TIMES site for more info on these quarterly workshops - all totally free and available to anyone with an internet connection. It's not every day you get to chat and ask these folks questions about their music and process. Full schedule announced soon.
And finally, a bit of a tease.
For the last two years, I've worked with Dave Ervin, lead guitarist for The Selkie Girls, on an ambitious musical project, originally under The Known World Project. That initial group of songs became something more, and especially after we moved here to Wisconsin, it became clear that the next step in my personal musical career was to release my first solo album. Solo is quite the relative term, as I've had the pleasure to work with some of my favorite folks on this, from Dave on guitar, Scooter Muse on banjo, fiddlers Chris Buckley and Kathryn Powell, Cara Wildman on bodhran, Martin McCall on drums, Chad Johnson on guitar, Jaycie Skidmore on vocals and flutes, and even Amanda Carlson on vocals up here in Wisconsin. And now, another wonderful musician, Wolf Loescher, is working on some drum tracks for the final couple of songs. At heart, I'm a collaborator, so being able to work with all of these talented individuals has been such a treat for me. I really cannot wait to share this collection of songs with you all, and my goal is to have the final album released in late spring. So I'll give you two little goodies till then.
First - the name of the album. Into the Hollows.
Second, a little lyric video I made of one of the tracks. This one's Annabel Lee - based on the Edgar Allen Poe poem. If you know me, I love haunting imagery, tragic love, and tragedy in general.
As Tom Waits said, "I like beautiful melodies telling me terrible things."
Cara Dillon is one of my favorite contemporary folk singers. I decided to cover her song, Hill of the Thieves, as part of my evolving solo project.
This song was recorded over the past year with Dave Ervin, one of my favorite people to make music with. We asked our friend, Chris Buckley, great fiddle and viola player of The Here & Now to work with us on this.
We threw him the task of creating an original reel in the instrumental sections of the song. And in an impossible key. And he was of course up to the task.
I love this song because for me, it's all about reconnecting with your roots, honoring your history and the journey and sacrifice of those who came before, embracing both the dark and the light, and emerging stronger for it. I created this video as a love letter to both the song and to the gorgeous landscape of Ireland.
St. Paddy's and Festival season looks a little different this year. But as it can, the show does go on. We recorded a very cool set at The Post in Fort Worth that will be streamed for North Texas Irish Festival. Then we have some outdoor and socially-distanced shows coming up afteward. Details below. Looking forward to being back on stage and performing!
2021 NORTH TEXAS IRISH FESTIVAL (NTIF), Dallas, Texas, March 5-7 NTIF.org
LEGACY HALL, Plano, Texas, March 13, 2021, 1:30pm - 3:30pm www.legacyfoodhall.com
COPPELL ART CENTER, Coppell, Texas, March 13, 2021, 8:00pm - 9:30pm www.coppellartscenter.org
LEGACY HALL, Plano, Texas, March 17, 2021, 7:00pm - 9:00pm www.legacyfoodhall.com TEXAS SCOTTISH FESTIVAL AND HIGHLAND GAMES, DECATOR, TEXAS, APRIL 30 - MAY 2, 2021 WWW.TEXASSCOTS.COM
I've got a new musical endeavor called The Known World Project debuting this month. When the St. Paddy's season was effectively wiped out, I wanted to do something. If I couldn't perform, I could at least continue to make some music. My bandmate Dave, from The Selkie Girls, and I starting kicking around some new songs. Since the band couldn't rehearse, we just starting working on arrangements back and forth. Then we began to invite some of our musical friends to join in the fun. We recruited Chris Buckley, a long-time friend from Austin, and world-class fiddle player, to add his magic onto some tracks. Jaycie from The Selkie Girls with her ethereal vocals and warm flutes, Scooter Muse, great banjo and guitar player from Alabama, Cara Wildman on the bodhran, Martin McCall on drums. And the hope is that more friends will eventually join in. There are no limits.
LIKE the Facebook Page www.facebook.com/theknownworldproject VIST the Website www.theknownworldproject.com
SUBSCRIBE to the YouTube Channel: The Known World Project
Please enjoy my collaboration with internationally known bodhran player, Cara Wildman. This song proved to be a lyrical and rhythmic beast, but I'm proud of our final result.
To quote from Cara's description:
I first heard this tune in a bodhrán masterclass with
in 2016 when I was studying in Limerick. He and Julie Fowlis got the tune from Mairi Smith, who is from the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides. The lyrics are ultra creepy (see below): a woman is happily married with small children. Her sister is envious of the woman's happiness, so murders the married sister and steals her husband and children. The husband later finds his dead wife drowned in the sea with her hair floating among the seaweed. The time signature is as scary as the lyrics, with four bars phrases in 13/8, 12/8, 11/8, and 12/8. The most challenging part for me wasn't the time signature as much as getting really clean tones with left hand, especially in bar three.
A note from Martin: "When I was notating it originally to record it with Julie, I wrote it as one bar of 13/8 and 3 bars of 12/8, essentially forcing Julie to take a breath/pause on the 3rd line. Only five minutes before we recorded it we got Mairi Smith, from the Isle of Lewis in the Hebrides, on the phone to check we had it right. Julie passed the phone to me and I quickly realised I had an extra beat in there somewhere. A little moment of panic, but we figured it out and hit record a few minutes later and the result was the version you now know, 13/8, 12/8, 11/8, 12/8."
The Known World Project is a collaboration of musicians from all over the world. Organized by myself and Dave Ervin, the goal of the project is to create music even in this time of physical social isolation. "Alli and I started this project as a way to keep our sanity and have fun recording songs, all while living in the social distancing lock down of the 2020 pandemic." In the midst of uncertain times, music can be a stronghold, an anchor, both for the makers and the listeners. We hope to continue this online project and share some music with the world. Stay tuned for future events, shows, recordings and the like.
Sonder the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own
We chose this concept to describe our current project. While we are living in era of self-isolation due to the pandemic, we have become more aware of one another's circumstances and challenges. Even when we are apart, there is opportunity for connection. Sonder speaks to the essential truth that we are complex and nuanced, and through artistic expression, compassion, and community, we can create something inspirational.
“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.” - Desmond Tutu