RIP Michael Johnson

today’s post comes to us from tim.

i was a huge fan of michael johnson’s rooty toot toot to the moon and other on his there is a breeze album in 1972.

he encompassed all the attributes of the ideal performer. great ability, great artistic sense, very pleasant personality. I saw him play in a small auditorium at normandale jr college ( full house was probably 60.) ansd at the guthrie and then i think i saw him a time or two at orchestra hall the day after christmas in kind of a celebration of one more year and we are still here. even when he moved to nashville and was having reasonable success as a singer songwriter he considered minneapolis st paul his home

he was originally from denver but was so loved in the twin cities that he felt this was his true home. a year ago I saw him play at the dakota which is a wonderful small intimate club downtown and it was great. he forgot a few lines and was embarrassed by it but getting old is part of the deal. I saw him play at the hopkins theater a he was as much into telling stories about his life and observations as he was about playing the next song. I had told my daughter emma that i wanted to have her take classes from him at mcnalley smith in stage presence. i took a master class from him at mac phail and was very impressed with his gentle direction and basically the philosophy that when you perform you are offer your audience a gift. once i heard him say that i understood why i enjoyed his stage presence so much. that was it.

when I thought of how I would like to be seen when on stage he is what I came up with.

who are some role models you’d want to emulate?


36 thoughts on “RIP Michael Johnson”

  1. I saw Michael Johnson perform at a “coffee house” in the basement of some building on the UofM campus half a dozen times in the ’70s. The performances were mesmerizing and a welcome calm to the turmoil in my life then. I never got to thank him.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m sure you are right, PJ. But I think the Whole didn’t operate very long. I was there once to see John Fahey. It was a terrible concert because Fahey had tangled the night before with some kids in town for the state wrestling championship. Fahey was a fragile, messed-up guy under ideal circumstances, and he was unable to play the night I was there.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Actually, the Whole operated for a quite a long time although the kind of performers they featured changed quite dramatically over time. By the time they adopted the new name of the Whole Music Club, they had switched to music that I didn’t care for. I saw Bonnie Raitt, Ry Cooder, Townes Van Zandt, and Leon Redbone there. They also did the occasional poetry reading there early on.

          Liked by 2 people

      1. Michael was one the featured entertainers, along with John Koerner, at a New Year’s Eve party at one of my friends’ houses a few years ago. We were about 30 people there, several of whom had known him since his early days in the Twin Cities music scene. Seemed like a down to earth kind of guy, who looked back on his career with a wry sense of humor. He was an excellent musician, quite at ease in front of an audience.

        He played at several small venues in the Twin Cities in recent years,Three Crows in Orono, and Crossings near Zumbrota among them. I think he enjoyed hooking up with some of his local peers through his affiliation with Red House Records, I know he did some touring with John Gorka.


  2. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Because I am inching into retirement age, I have been watching how people retire. I have noticed so many people are not entering a formal retirement, but working PT and continuing their careers. My art teacher in Jordan (who is renowned worldwide in the polymer clay community for techniques and artwork) sold her studio and retreat center that was the FT gig in Dec. 2015, and now teaches art as she finds interesting. She is the person taking my group of 16 to Ireland. She is over 65 and still very involved in everything in her world.

    The woman that formulated the kind of therapy I do is now age 74 and still a full professor at Univ. of Washington. That is more than I want at age 74, but I hope to be as sharp and as invested in my life as she is.

    In the entertainment world, several women have served as role models. As a young woman Mary Tyler Moore’s character, Mary Richards, moved to Minneapolis as a single woman. This fictional character was a powerful role model for me (note I live in the TCs and moved here as a divorced, single mom). Carol Burnett has been a sustaining role model of professionalism, grace, silliness and humor that has been a constant model for me. She wrote her own rules in a time when women just did not do that. While I do not know her personally, she profoundly influenced my life, keeping me laughing during miserable periods of childhood/teenager-hood.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I admire C.S. Lewis and wish I could think and write like him, especially his later religious writings. I also admire Murry Bowen, a family therapist who stressed the importance of family history in present day functioning.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. In the spirit of Oscar Wilde’s “Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken”, I don’t think I’ve ever considered my set of choices or values a role to play. Consequently, I’ve never looked for role models.
    People in the public eye have very little to do with my life and the things we are given to believe about them turn out to be mistaken. (Bill Cosby, for example).
    Of course I see choices and qualities in others, famous or not, that I admire and retain those examples to inform my own choices but they are seldom attached to a particular individual.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sort of like Bill, I can’t think of any specific people who are/were my role models. But I can think of several people who have qualities that, at least in my better moments, I want to emulate:

    * my mom, who I’ve never heard say an unkind thing about other people (I used to laugh when she would say someone was “pleasingly plump” – why not just say ‘fat’? – but now I see the innate kindness there)
    * my dad, who during his time as a judge, was known to be fair to all, and as an attorney would often accept payment in the form of venison or some such thing instead of money
    * Eliot Porter, who had an eye for photographing beautiful things and quit his job to be a full-time nature photographer
    * A more recent person that I’ve discovered in Facebook political posts: Joe Kennedy III (grandson of Bobby Kennedy), who seems to be a genuinely compassionate, caring person working to get that compassion and caring into law

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Don’t know that I’ve ever had role models, but there are certainly people I admire and from whom I have learned.

    My friend, Ann Mikkelsen, is a superb cook, and I have always admired the flair with which she puts an exquisite meal on the table. I have assisted her in her kitchen enough to have picked up a few of her “tricks.” I should note that Anne’s kitchen, except for her professional stove, her well-worn Cuisinart Food Processor, and her four or five well-seasoned cast iron skillets, has the most decrepit selection of cook ware I have ever seen. As Mike used to say, Anne could cook a gourmet meal in an old shoe if she had to. One facet of her cooking that I have not tried to emulate is the amount of dirty pots, pans, dishes, appliances, and utensils she leaves in her wake.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. At one time I did think I wanted to be a comedienne like Carol Burnett. After that, I just found people whom I wanted to be like in part – we could also call this “people that I envied” – too numerous to mention, but I’ll keep thinking.


  8. In the music universe, I always admired Jean Redpath. She didn’t have a conventionally beautiful voice, but brought a quiet assurance and unconventional beauty to everything she sang.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Linda, in 1966 I met Jean Redpath. I remember the occasion as being a folk performing conference at Carleton. Jean Redpath used to travel to the US frequently to perform, doing many PHC appearances.

      You would have loved her. She was witty, unpretentious and slightly risque. I think she enjoyed being a Scot who could poke fun at British pretensions. And she took delight in the differences between British and American English. One of her stories was about telling an American traveler to come to her bedroom to “knock me up” so she wouldn’t be late to do something.

      Appearing with her was the Reverend Gary Davis. You could hardly find two such dissimilar people, but both were folk performers. One of his stories involved being in bed with someone’s wife when the husband unexpectedly showed up. Davis described himself “Sittin’ on the ground from a second-story winda’.”

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Hey all – I’m also in the “admiration” camp. Not any particular role models that I strive to emulate but lots of people I admire. Barack Obama is pretty high on the list right now. Eleanor Roosevelt. Vera Rubin. The Green brothers. Nonny. List could go on and on….

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I was interested to note that Michelle Obama admitted in a public appearance very recently that she was quite hurt by people who looked at the First Lady of the country and could only see a black woman.


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