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About Pat Johnson

A guitarist, singer, and songwriter who has moved back and forth between the acoustic and electric sides of roots rock, Pat Johnson first made a name for himself working with Penelope Houston, the former lead vocalist with San Francisco punk pioneers the Avengers. In the 1980s, Houston moved away from punk formalism into acoustic music, and Johnson played guitar on her 1988 solo debut, Birdboys, beginning a musical relationship that continues to this day. Johnson was also an early member of Neil Hagerty's noise-assault combo Royal Trux, leaving the group after playing on a pair of early singles, and Johnson also popped up on the first two albums by the Coal Porters, an early alt-country group led by former Long Ryders leader Syd Griffin. Johnson stepped up as a frontman with the band Wellsprings of Hope, who released their sole full-length, Phonograph, in 1991. After Wellsprings split up following appearances on a number of compilations, Johnson debuted as a solo act with the 1995 album Mooner, recorded during a sojourn in Germany. A rougher and noisier set, Invisible Juan, followed in 1997, and between 1999 and 2001, Johnson cut back on his work in music. He returned with a vengeance in 2002 with a new band, the rootsy but garage-influenced Maydays, while playing out frequently with Houston, the rough-hewn country-rock outfit the Rusty Nails, and a handful of other San Francisco-based bands. Following a collection of rare and live recordings, Famous Butterflies, in 2005, Johnson released his third solo set, October Moon, and formed a new band, Pat Johnson & the New Sheiks, who perform frequently in the Bay Area. ~ Mark Deming