Robb Johnson is now widely recognised as one of the finest songwriters working in the UK today. These song suites are based on his grandfather's experiences in the First World War and his father's experiences in the second. They are available as shows which can be tailored to suit any budget, depending on the number of performers, from Robb solo to a 'cast of thousands' (almost).
By Robb Johnson
Gentle Men uses the biographies of Robb's grandfathers to explore the First World War & its consequences. Gentle Men received widespread critical acclaim. The original 1997 version was a Mojo Folk Album of the Month & one of The Daily Telegraph’s Folk Album’s of the Year. The 2013 re-recording was hailed as “a folk classic” by Robin Denselow in the Guardian, & Billy Bragg considered it was “a wonderful mixture of the political & the personal… a really moving piece of work.” Gentle Men has been performed in a variety of settings with various musicians, from festivals & arts centres to clubs & schools. A solo live performance at Wigan Church by Robb was also recorded & released in 2015.
By Robb Johnson
Ordinary Giants is a song suite by acclaimed songwriter Robb Johnson about the life & times of his father, Ron Johnson, a family history of the Second World War & the Welfare State.
Ordinary Giants features a wide range of contributors. These include Cabaret diva Barb Jungr, folk legend Roy Bailey & pianist Jenny Carr, all three of whom had previously worked on Gentle Men, plus contributions from Matthew Crampton, Rory McLeod, Frances O’Grady, Phil Odgers, Tom Robinson, Justin Sullivan, Miranda Sykes, Steve White & also Dennis Skinner. The rhythm section is provided by Robb’s longstanding musical partners, John Forrester on bass & Arvin Johnson on percussion.
The double album will be released on Irregular Records next year, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, & the 70th birthday of the National Health Service. Using his father’s life as the focal point of the narrative, Robb chronicles the events from the 1930s to 2000s that have shaped our current situation, with over 40 songs & spoken word pieces. Ron Johnson was born in 1922 & died in 2013. As a young man he volunteered for the RAF to fight against fascism, & after the war dedicated his life to state education. Ordinary Giants is a chronicle of unremarked yet remarkable lives, lived by ordinary people through extraordinary times, & a celebration of their aspirations, endurance & achievements.
Ordinary Giants is available for performances from 2018 onwards which can be tailored to suit venue & budget.