Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Ballad of Johnny Childs

Editor's note:
I emailed Johnny Childs personally shortly after publishing this post. While I stated I stood behind my opinions, I gave him the opportunity to challenge any facts contained herein. He had no problem with the facts, was respectful of my opinion and appreciative of the recognition. Johnny noted he believed that the video of his song "Walk The Floor" was a better representation of his talents and I added it to the post to show as many sides of this interesting fellow as possible.

He is known by many names and many professions:
Film Maker Yonah Krohn of Sun Studio Productions

Manager and Agent Stuart Wax of Midnight Music Management

Manager and Agent Adam Feiler of  Big Whale Artists

 and finally Guitarist and Blues Singer Johnny Childs.

His visibility has been on the rise in recent years, but maybe for the wrong reasons.

I first became aware of Johnny Childs around 2008 via Blues-L and the Blindman's Blues Forum. Johnny' Childs began to harness the power of the internet as part of a very aggressive self-promotion campaign. A fellow named  Stuart Wax of Midnight Music Management posted an email to Blues-L stating "JOHNNY CHILDS DECLARED CLINICALLY INSANE..." When one dug into the body of the email they were met with the exclamation "....ON GUITAR!"  along with some links to a couple of YouTube videos. While touting his extraordinary talent on guitar Mr. Wax was looking for some opinions on Mr. Childs. The Blues-l community was more than happy to oblige him. Opinions ranged from "I can't tell if this is really good or really bad." to "He's good, but not INSANE!" to "hack". Most agreed the hype was too much and a turn off. This seems to be a pretty typical reaction to Johny Childs.

For the next few years Childs continued to promote himself via several endeavors and pseudonyms. The most ambitious being "The Junkman's Son" a documentary about Childs' attempts to get signed to a Blues record label by his 30th Birthday.

Here is the first  hour of the film.

The Junkman's Son DOCUMENTARY

Shortly after the release of the film Childs recorded a new CD produced by Bruce Bromberg a veteran of projects by Robert Cray and Joe Louis Walker among others. 
Johnny Childs - Groove EPK

Childs submitted the film and the CD with to the Blue Music Awards with high hopes of getting nominated in Best Debut CD and Blues DVD. Childs filmed himself listening to Bill Wax announce the nominees live on XM/Sirius Radio. He recieved bupkis and here's where the story gets interesting...

Johnny Childs Reaction 
to the 2012 Blues Music Awards Nominees 

Childs infamously challenged multiple BMA nominee and international Blues artist Tommy Castro to a good ol' fashioned head cuttin' contest. I have yet to give my opinion of Johnny Childs as a musician (wait for it...) When it comes to Tommy Castro  I'm not even a fan, but there can be no doubt that he  is at the top of the Blues world. He is a tremendous guitar player, singer and songwriter who has paid his dues for 30 years in the Blues bidness.Seasoned pros wouldn't stand a chance against Tommy Castro in a real head cutting contest. Nonetheless, the whole idea is a bit passé, and once again Johnny Childs' hype left many with a bad taste in their mouth. 
But Childs wasn't done. A few weeks ago he posted a video of a song called "Yo Tommy Castro" a Blues/Rap tune where he once again called out the Bay Area guitarist. The video features Childs in an afro wig and name checks several Blues industry professionals while people wearing masks of their likeness dance in the background.
Childs has since  taken the video down but here are some links to audio clips.

Sooo...Kid Andersen, a guy whose sense of humor is as big as his musical talent, took Johnny up on the challenge. Kid played guitar upside, backwards and blindfolded, and won.

Kid Andersen and Johnny Childs, 
TKO in Round 1 by Kid Andersen!!

Childs plays some nice licks, but the simple fact that Kid Andersen plays whatever he plays right back seems to amaze even him. Did I mention Kid played guitar upside, backwards and blindfolded?

Childs responded by issuing an unedited video that he claims tells a more fair and balanced version of the events.

Johnny Childs'  unedited video 

Johnny Childs Sets The Record Straight
an interview with American Blues Scene

Johnny Childs Sets The Record Straight 


Very recently Johnny posted this video.

Yo Tommy Castro - Video EXPLAINED


So what do I think of Johnny Childs? I think he is a reasonably talented and capable musician whose overwhelming drive to succeed has made him lose perspective. I think Johnny fails to recognize that the Blues world is filled with musicians far more talented than he that will also never get a shot at the big leagues. He may want it more than they do, but that is not enough. To be successful in any endeavor talent and drive must be equal in proportion. In short, while you can't deny his passion, Johnny Childs is not as great as he thinks he is. He's pretty good though.

Here's a relatively reserved Johnny that I, for one, would like to see more of. No overhype before and no bad taste when it's over. 

Johnny Childs personally believes that this video is the best representation of his talents. I am happy to include it here.
Johnny Childs - Walk The Floor