Humming of the Axis
Singer-songwriter Jeremiah Johnson, who grew up in regional New South Wales, is well known and loved in his adopted hometown of Cairns and will soon be hitting the road for an extended tour around Australia. After a successful crowd funding campaign this year, the independent musician has a fully equipped tour bus and it’s time for his fan base to grow even further.
Released in February this year, his latest album Humming of the Axis is certainly one to get hold of in advance of seeing Jeremiah live. It encompasses a range of musical styles stemming from folk, world, roots, blues, country and folk rock. Johnson plays a lapsteel Dobro slide guitar that always enhances the experience of his live performances and recordings.
From the superb blues “Staggar Lee” to the beautiful, haunting “Baby Don’t Lie”, this is a diverse and exciting album. With the track “Church” you might think Johnson is conjuring blues musician Ash Grunwald for a moment, but the album then takes you in another direction. Jump on to YouTube and find his latest video clip “Cracks in the Concrete” to enjoy just a small sample of what Humming of the Axis has to offer.
Johnson directed and produced the clip which weaves together story-telling, landscape and characters of the far north. It is a joy to hear “Bellenden Ker”, which appeared on Johnson’s 2012 album Postcards, featuring on Humming of the Axis. Mount Bellenden Ker, just south of Cairns, is the second highest mountain in Queensland in a region of notoriously high rainfall. Johnson’s song charts the geography of this place with a familiarity that locals love and others will yearn to experience.
The beauty of natural landscape, travel, relationships, darkness, light and warmth all come through in his music. This is an album with momentum that is hard to sit still and listen to. It motivates you to move, if not your body, then to drive to or to listen to on a train or bus as the outside world passes by. The upbeat opening track “Someone After You” is almost enough in and of itself to get you running and looking over your shoulder. Johnson has played for the Green Left Weekly annual May Day dinner in Cairns for the past two years.
The first time, he appeared with his band, the second as a solo artist sharing the event with Canadian ecosocialist guest speaker and blues radio show host Ian Angus. Johnson contributes to the local music and arts scene in Cairns at many venues around town. He has also supported visiting artists like Gomez, Donovan Frankenreiter, Angus and Julie Stone, and Neil Murray. Last year, Johnson performed a series of shows in Malaysia for the JBArts festival touring with a group of Aboriginal and visual artists. Just recently, we crossed paths at James Cook University at an event for West Papuan independence where he was again performing and generously sharing his vast talent.