Michael Johnathon's 'SongFarmer' Wins Album Of Year Award At National Old Time Music Festival
Folksinger, composer and broadcast personality Michael Johnathon merges an old recording concept with new technology for his album, "SongFarmer: Pickin' & Peckin' on a Porch."
The 10-track collection of folk songs, believed to be the first ever recorded entirely on an iPhone, has just received the Album of the Year Award at the National Old Time Music Festival in LeMars, Iowa.
"I wanted to imply the feel of an early folk recording using 21st century technology," Johnathon said. "The iPhone, as a recording platform, far surpasses what the Beatles recorded 'Abby Road' on. The technology is such that I could have recorded upwards of 32 tracks per song, but because of the concept behind this particular project, the recording was kept very simple and acoustic."
Simple and acoustic is how Johnathon prefers his music, harkening back to bygone days in his adopted home of Eastern Kentucky, when families would spend evenings playing homegrown music on front porches. He is frustrated at the modern-day commercialization of music, and business models that make it increasingly difficult for average musicians to make a living.
"Some of the most talented audio sculptors in the world, recording engineers, are losing their careers as the music industry changes and budgets decline," Johnathon said. "We are living among the first generation in human history that receives art and music as a non-organic, flat screen, digital two-dimensional experience. Fans don't even get to hold an album jacket anymore."
Though he may be best known as host of the internationally syndicated public television and radio program "WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour," Johnathon has produced and recorded several albums, each with a socially conscious theme. More than the title of his new album, "SongFarmer" is a word he coined to describe an artist who uses music to make families, hometowns and careers better. He hopes to use the album to attract support for the WoodSongs Front Porch Association (WFPA), which he cofounded in 2015 to bring people together, who want to share the love of roots music and the community it creates.
"The front porch was once the grand pulpit of America's neighborhoods where moms, dads, kids, and friends would gather to sing a summer evening away," Johnathon said. "We encourage SongFarmers to look past the money and do brilliant, good work, even for free, as the best business plan for their lives, families, hometowns and careers."
In a review, Bob Everhart, president of the National Traditional Country Music Association, described "SongFarmer" album as "a good representation of what 'front porch' picking would be like." Indeed, with nothing more than Johnathon's voice accompanied by his solo guitar and drop-thumb banjo, it is easy to close one's eyes while listening to "SongFarmer" and imagine a summer evening on a neighbor's porch in the hills of Eastern Kentucky.
Michael Johnathon's "SongFarmer: Pickin' & Peckin' on the Front Porch" is available at MichaelJohnathon.com/merch and Amazon. More information about the WoodSongs Front Porch Association is available at SongFarmers.org.
"SongFarmer: Pickin' & Peckin' on the Front Porch
1. Sunday Afternoon
3. Autumn Song
4. Hippy Luv
5. Little Maggie
7. Rainbow Wife
9. Song Farmer's Front Porch Rockin' Chair Rag
10. Pamper Creek