Robb Johnson says he’s just a bloke with a guitar. He is. But he’s one who has chronicled our times: painting the less-than-sunny political landscape in the moonlight of the personal. Just like a folk singer should.
"Britain's finest songwriter since Richard Thompson"- Venue
"Love songs as touching as the political material is sharp." - Red Pepper
"The real deal when it comes to songwriting" - Mike Harding, BBC Radio2
"An English original" - Robin Denselow, The Guardian
“One of this country’s most important songwriters (no argument!)” -(fRoots)
"There is no songwriter to compare with Robb Johnson operating in the UK" - R2
"One of the best" - Maverick
Robb Johnson is widely recognised as one of the UK’s finest songwriters. “An English original”, (Robin Denselow, The Guardian) ... “one of our best singer-songwriters ever” (Mike Harding). He gigs in the UK, Belgium, Germany & the USA, & his songs are covered by many singers, from folk legend Roy Bailey to acclaimed cabaret diva Barb Jungr, & he enjoys a similarly diverse spectrum of critical acclaim – “a modern-day Dostoyevsky” said the US’s Dirty Linen, Mojo made the double CD Gentle Men Folk Album Of The Month, while The Daily Telegraph made it their Folk Album Of 1998, & Tony Benn said Johnson’s “Winter Turns To Spring” was his favourite song.
He has played pubs, clubs, pavements, pickets & benefits, arts centres & festivals, local radio, BBC Radio 3 & 4, Belgian Radio 1, Nicaraguan TV & Channel 4, the Albert Hole in Bristol &, as part of Roy Bailey’s 1998 concert, the Albert Hall in London. In February 2006 Robb appeared at the Barbican as part of the prestigious BBC “Folk Britannia” series, where “for the encore, Robb Johnson leads all the artists (and the audience) in the World War I song (‘Hanging On The Old Barbed Wire’)” (BBC Folk Britannia website) in a concert that was screened later that month on BBC4. Robb has been the featured guest on Andy Kershaw’s Radio 3 programme.
In 2016, PM Press in the US released A Reasonable History of Impossible Demands, a 5 CD career-retrospective. 2016 also saw the release of My Best Regards, an album of 13 new songs recorded with Jenny Carr (piano), John Forrester (bass) & Robb’s son Arvin on drums, & featuring collaborations with Brighton’s Hullabaloo Quire & Palestinian singer Reem Kelani. In 2017 Robb released Songs From the Last Seven Years, a collection of songs written in response to recent events from the election of the Condem government to the Grenfell Tower fire.
Gentle Men, Robb’s family history of the First World War, received unanimous critical acclaim -“a wonderful mixture of the political and personal...A really moving piece of work” (Billy Bragg), & “a folk classic” (The Guardian). Robb is currently working on another song suite, Ordinary Giants, based on his father’s life & times, which is due for release in November 2018/
IRR100: MY BEST REGARDS
My Best Regards, an album of 13 songs. It features pianist Jenny Carr and bassist John Forrester, who worked together on 2013’s recording of Gentle Men, and Robb’s son Arvin on drums and percussion. The songs cover a wide spectrum of subjects; from the personal to the political, and the shared points in between; from birthdays to migrations; from late night bus stops to the Sidmouth promenade; from Babbacombe Model Village to Franz Kafka and Prague; and involve among others new babies in Hollingdean, MPs’ 10% pay rises, and Turkish red wine and charity shops in Broadstairs. The album also contains different versions of three of the songs – two recorded with Brighton’s Hullabaloo Quire, and one song, When the Tide Comes in, recorded with the Palestinian singer Reem Kelani.
Currently rearranging 2020 and 2021 dates into 2022.