Talking story with Mark Johnstone


Mark Johnstone isn’t just one of Maui’s finest professional musicians. If you’ve ever had the chance to hear him play the piano, guitar, harmonica or sing, you already know that he’s a virtuoso. He’s got the soul, depth, tilted Fedora and swagger. He also speaks with a slight East Coast accent, plays in the Grammy-nominated Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, windsurfs on the North Shore and is pretty funny. In fact, Johnstone was my first roommate and one of my first friends when I moved to Maui from Oahu.

Johnstone’s sense of humor is more like a banter that plays on tomfoolery. It’s unique, special and infectious. He always has great stories, especially when it has to do with being a musician.

“Some think being a musician is all about panties thrown on the stage, signing breasts and phone numbers on paper napkins,” he says. “Being a musician on Maui means you often have to drive long distances and unless there’s a piano at your gig, you have to remember things. There’s always that moment several miles from the house when a feeling of paranoia comes over you and have to keep turning around to look in the back of the car to see if you’ve forgotten something… like that one of a kind power cable… I’ve pulled over more than once. It’s not only important to remember to bring your stuff, but also to remember to put it back in the car after. Once, I left my whole show on a cart out in front of a hotel and drove off. I didn’t realize it until halfway through a fish burger in Paia. I’ve heard a tale about a guitarist who left his guitar in its case on the front bumper of his truck and it made it all the way from Lahaina to Upcountry unscathed. I have an amplifier with tire tracks on it.”

Jazz and blues are two genres that you’ll most likely hear Johnstone play and sing. “Jazz is a feeling,” he says. “It’s the music of the moment. It’s a spiritual pursuit, and always has one foot firmly planted in the blues. Any music that takes you away from the mundane is alright with me.”

*

Born in Massachusetts but raised in Maine and Rhode Island, Johnstone comes from a musical family.

“Both of my parents have shown me great support and guidance,” he says. “My father and I still have long-winded phone conversations about the current state of music. He came out of the ‘50s and ‘60s. I feel like I would have enjoyed living back then. Not that I’m not having fun now! But I feel like I’m somewhat of a bridge between generations; part of a musical lineage which began with my great grandfather, who was known in upstate New York as ‘Jazz Johnstone.’”

Johnstone says his dad’s band used to play Saturday nights at a golf course clubhouse on the other side of a wooded area from his house. On those nights he’d open his window and hear the music drifting through the trees. He was always able to recognize the tunes.

In fact, his great grandma’s kitchen is where his dad, grandfather and uncles jammed harmonica. That’s what first introduced Mark to the Great American Songbook. He fell in love with those tunes, and still plays some today. Which is partly why Johnstone was one of the local musicians appearing at the recent Maui Jazz and Blues Festival in Wailea. Seeing him play the harmonica alongside accordion master Jo-El Sonnier (the undisputed “King of Cajun”) was legendary.

Harry Johnstone Sr. (Mark’s great grandfather that he never met) was a bandleader in upstate New York. He went by the name “Jazz Johnstone.” His daughter was an accomplished vibraphonist and appeared in the 1932 movie The Big Broadcast, starring Bing Crosby. She was one of the singing telephone operators.

“Jazz Johnstone was the reason I brought back the ‘e’ to my name, which was lost by my grandfather while he was in the U.S. Air Force,” Johnstone told me.

Mark Johnstone first started playing music at age four. He says he used to sneak into his older sister’s room to play her electric piano. Back then, the keys were about eye level, and that he quickly learned how to turn the tube amplifier “ON.”

“My parents heard me playing and decided that maybe the wrong kid was taking piano,” Johnstone says. “That was the start. I studied classical pieces and memorized them quickly. However, my favorite thing was making up my own tunes. It was then that I realized there was a direct connection between the music and the way I was feeling. I became immediately hooked on this idea of self-expression. I soon learned that music was also a great way to gain people’s attention.”

This was just the beginning of his musical education, and he continued studying classical piano with various teachers up until he was about 12. That’s when Johnstone discovered the guitar.

“Guitar has been a great companion,” he says. “I always liked the way it felt against my body. Plus, my father was a great guitar teacher, so that came in handy.”

Johnstone’s first musical role model was also his father. While he was growing up, his dad would teach guitar lessons at his home. He’d also hold band rehearsals in their living room.

“The guys in his band were some groovy cats and I wanted to be like them,” Johnstone says.

After high school, Johnstone enrolled in the Berklee College of Music (he also has an English degree from the University of Massachusetts in Boston). Since there were so many guitarists there, he decided to go back to the piano keys.

“Berklee was sink or swim,” Johnstone says. “It was very competitive, which can be overwhelming and inspiring at the same time. I learned what I needed to work on, and met the people I needed to know during my time there.“

During and after college, Johnstone continued on his musical journey. This is when he sought out the tutelage of his second most influential mentor, Mac Chrupcala (whom his father played with in the ‘60s). Mac was the best pianist Johnstone had ever seen, heard or known. He followed him around, and eventually became his roadie in exchange for piano tune-ups.

“I learned so many practical things from Mac; how to do business, how to start and finish tunes, how to accompany singers, how to play a ballad, and most of all, how to be grateful as hell whenever you’re behind your instrument,” Johnstone says. “He was a great educator, and left a profound impression on me and all those that he met along his way. Whenever I have a moment of uncertainty on the bandstand I always think, what would Mac do?’”

*

Before Johnstone moved to Maui (over 16 years ago), he lived in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. There he enjoyed the seasons by snowboarding and playing music at restaurants, venues and private events. Since he also loved windsurfing, moving to Maui was a natural move.

“While looking for an apartment, I ran into Steve Sargenti, who basically gave me his whole contact list and said ‘here, go meet the cats,’” Johnstone says. “That’s aloha. I did a lot of footwork in the early days here on Maui, and played in lots of bands.” He told me that his solo piano gigs have been invaluable, including some of his long-term mainstays in South Maui. For over 14 years, he’s been creating the vibes every weekend at Hotel Wailea (the former Capische.)

Back in the day, Johnstone would visit Fulton Tashombe when he would play at the Kea Lani Resort in Wailea. Sometimes, Tashombe would let him sit in. Tom Cherry was also a big help when Johnstone first arrived on island. He hired him at Hi-Tech and he’d include him in gigs with his band. After his first few months on Maui, Johnstone landed a five night a week gig at the old Marco’s in Kihei.

“I was living the dream,” he says. “Marco was great and let me hire sidemen. It was a good way to get to know the cats. Then, my phone started ringing and I felt embraced by the Maui music ohana.”

Well, mostly embraced.

“When I first hit the island, I found myself in a live hip-hop band,” Johnstone told me. “They had volunteered to play at Pavil’s (Ho‘okipa) for a beach cleanup one Sunday. I was the only one who showed up. The organizer asked if I would play solo. So I set my keys up and began playing. Shortly into my set, some teenage girls came up to me and said, ‘Me and my friends have been talking and we have decided that you should stop playing because we’re over it.’  Ouch! Worked over at Pavil’s!”

Johnstone says that one of the biggest lessons he’s learned on Maui is the importance of being a diverse musician. “Maui has helped me to be a bit of a chameleon,” he says. “Most of all, the island has shown me how to be a nice person to work with. That goes a long, long way.”

*

Johnstone is currently one of the very talented members of the four-piece Mick Fleetwood Blues Band. Naturally, I had to ask him how that relationship and musical venture came about.

“My friend Lenny Castellanos, who plays bass with Mick, told me that Mick and the guitarist Rick Vito were starting a project to commemorate 40 years of Fleetwood Mac, specifically the Peter Green years,” he says. “Oddly enough, I was born the year they were founded in 1967.”

Johnstone says he jumped at the opportunity and organized an audition with Mick Fleetwood. He says that when Fleetwood headed into the audition, he heard him play some greasy organ, saw his Fedora, and gave him a nod of approval. How cool is that?

“Mark is a player’s player, and is always in the groove–on the keys and harmonica,” Fleetwood has said of Johnstone.

Johnstone has been part Fleetwood’s band for about eight years now.

“It’s been a great journey,” Johnstone says. “My main goal is to be true to the genre and at the same time be myself. We’ve toured Europe, Australia, New Zealand and just finished a West Coast/Canada tour. A long time ago, I put it out into the universe that I wanted music to show me the world. Cruising with Mick, Rick Vito and Lenny has helped me realize this goal. Hopefully, there’s much more to come.”

In 2009, the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band’s album Blue Again was nominated for a Grammy in the Traditional Blues category. Though they didn’t win, Johnstone told me how cool it was to experience the red carpet at the Grammy Awards, and how surreal it was to sit there in the audience.

In addition to playing in the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band, Johnstone is also involved with many musicians throughout the islands. He told me that playing with Fleetwood has certainly helped to open some doors for him.

“I’m honored to be embraced by the Maui music ohana, and also by people like Henry Kapono,” Johnstone says. “I really enjoyed playing his ‘Back in the Day’ concert at the Waikiki Shell a few years back. It was quite a moment to be up there with all of those legendary Hawaiian entertainers.”

Johnstone also has his own band, called Wavetrain. They’ve actually played over a 150 shows at Charley’s in Paia. Consider them connoisseurs of dirty, modern, electro funk (you can check them out online at Facebook.com/wavetrainmaui).

“I consider myself very lucky that the venues I play at allow me to explore my own musical vision,” Johnstone says. “I don’t play a lot of the usual stuff you hear on the radio. If something contemporary catches my ear, I like to incorporate it into my repertoire. There is a balance, however, between being artistically indulgent and keeping people entertained. Either way, I believe that if you’re coming from a genuine place, then folks will pick up on that and appreciate it. Most of all, play the melody!”

You can see Mark Johnstone play on Maui on a weekly basis. He plays every Friday and Saturday at the Restaurant at Hotel Wailea (6-9pm), every Monday at Café des Amis in Paia (6:30-8:30pm) and every Thursday at Charley’s Restaurant & Saloon (6:30-8:30pm). He can also be seen playing gigs at Fleetwood’s on Front Street. Check the Fleetwood’s website for more details, and you can follow Mark on Facebook at Facebook.com/markjohnstonemusic.

Cover design: Darris Hurst

Cover photo: Sarah Sharaf-Eldien

Photo of Johnstone at piano: Sean M. Hower

Photo of Johnstone windsurfing: Tad Craig



Source link

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

139 Responses to “Talking story with Mark Johnstone”

  1. pron best says:

    C0L5CZ Really enjoyed this post.Much thanks again. Want more.

  2. free logo says:

    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look

  3. this article to him. Pretty sure he as going to have a good read.

  4. Say, you got a nice article post.Thanks Again. Really Great.

  5. Thanks again for the article post.Much thanks again.

  6. Really appreciate you sharing this post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Great.

  7. Thanks for the blog article. Keep writing.

  8. look at this says:

    We all speak a little about what you should speak about when is shows correspondence to simply because Maybe this has more than one meaning.

  9. Im grateful for the post.Much thanks again. Much obliged.

  10. MoV Exam says:

    some truly interesting info , well written and loosely user pleasant.

  11. This blog is obviously entertaining additionally factual. I have picked a bunch of interesting tips out of this amazing blog. I ad love to return again soon. Thanks a bunch!

  12. This is really interesting, You are a very skilled blogger. I ave joined your feed and look forward to seeking more of your wonderful post. Also, I ave shared your website in my social networks!

  13. This can be exactly what I was looking for, thanks

  14. It as really very complicated in this busy life to listen news on TV, thus I just use internet for that purpose, and take the latest news.

  15. fashion says:

    rs gold ??????30????????????????5??????????????? | ????????

  16. It as hard to find experienced people for this topic, however, you seem like you know what you are talking about! Thanks

  17. I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!

  18. You have observed very interesting points! ps decent site.

  19. you are really a good webmaster. The site loading speed is incredible. It seems that you are doing any unique trick. Also, The contents are masterpiece. you ave done a excellent job on this topic!

  20. This is a really good tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very accurate info Thanks for sharing this one. A must read article!

  21. This site was how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I ave found something which helped me. Kudos!

  22. Major thanks for the post.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

  23. rank tracker says:

    tottenham hotspur jersey ??????30????????????????5??????????????? | ????????

  24. Thankyou for this tremendous post, I am glad I observed this site on yahoo.

  25. some genuinely select blog posts on this website , saved to favorites.

  26. I was recommended this website by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as no one else know such detailed about my problem. You are incredible! Thanks!

  27. Comprehension what on your own need to stay clear of whenever seeking towards drop pounds will boost your alternatives of accomplishing it directly.

  28. sante de et le territoire et sa batarde sera je

  29. of a user in his/her brain that how a user can understand it.

  30. Apple iPod says:

    Muchos Gracias for your post.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.

  31. There as definately a great deal to learn about this subject. I really like all of the points you made.

  32. It as really a nice and helpful piece of information. I am glad that you shared this useful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  33. Im grateful for the post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Cool.

  34. Nice info! Also visit my blog about Clomid challenge test

  35. Im grateful for the blog.Really thank you! Want more.

  36. can ho osimi says:

    Thanks a lot for the blog.Much thanks again. Fantastic.

  37. Some genuinely great articles on this web site , thankyou for contribution.

  38. There is certainly noticeably a bundle to comprehend this. I assume you might have made particular great factors in functions also.

  39. Really enjoyed this blog article.Really thank you! Fantastic.

  40. you ave gotten an excellent weblog right here! would you prefer to make some invite posts on my weblog?

  41. Im obliged for the article.Really thank you! Cool.

  42. I went over this site and I conceive you have a lot of great information, saved to my bookmarks (:.

  43. It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward

  44. What a lovely blog page. I will surely be back. Please maintain writing!

  45. free book says:

    nfl jerseys has come under heavy attack for the health and safety standards it allows and the amount it pays workers abroad.

  46. What as up it as me, I am also visiting this web site on a regular basis, this website is genuinely

  47. viagra says:

    With a Nike authentic nike jerseys Styles. authentic nike

  48. Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic article. Fantastic.

  49. Optimization? I am trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I am not seeing very good gains.

  50. Dayton says:

    Thanks for sharing this good write-up. Very inspiring! (as always, btw)

  51. This is one awesome blog article.Thanks Again.

  52. Major thanks for the post.Really thank you! Awesome.

  53. I think this is a real great article.Much thanks again. Much obliged.

  54. Thanks again for the post.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

  55. I think this is a real great article.Thanks Again. Really Great.

  56. You have mentioned very interesting details ! ps nice website . To grow mature is to separate more distinctly, to connect more closely. by Hugo Von Hofmannsthal.

  57. Enjoyed every bit of your article post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Great.

  58. Thanks again for the blog.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

  59. You complete a number of earn points near. I did a explore resting on the topic and found mainly people will support with your website.

  60. Wow, great blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.

  61. Major thankies for the article.Really thank you! Want more.

  62. Thanks foor a marfelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it,

  63. vps germany says:

    This website definitely has all the information and facts I wanted concerning this subject and didn at know who to ask.

  64. Say, you got a nice blog post.Much thanks again. Will read on

  65. Some truly wonderful posts on this site, appreciate it for contribution.

  66. solarmovie says:

    Im thankful for the article.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

  67. this website says:

    learning toys can enable your kids to develop their motor skills quite easily;;

  68. wow, awesome article post.Really thank you! Want more.

  69. Many thanks for sharing this excellent write-up. Very inspiring! (as always, btw)

  70. idee cadeau says:

    Where online can an accredited psyciatrist post articles (or blogs) for them to become popular?

  71. Thanks again for the article.Much thanks again. Keep writing.

  72. luxury says:

    Very good article. I absolutely love this website. Thanks!

  73. Wow! This can be one particular of the most useful blogs We ave ever arrive across on this subject. Actually Magnificent. I am also a specialist in this topic so I can understand your hard work.

  74. wrote the book in it or something. I think that

  75. to read more says:

    Wow! Thank you! I permanently needed to write on my blog something like that. Can I implement a part of your post to my blog?

  76. Looking around I like to surf around the internet, regularly I will go to Stumble Upon and follow thru

  77. This is my first time pay a quick visit at here and i am genuinely happy to read everthing at single place.

  78. Thanks again for the blog article.Much thanks again. Great.

  79. Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic post.Really looking forward to read more. Really Cool.

  80. to read more says:

    state. This is the first time I frequented your web page and up to now?

  81. javtv says:

    Thanks-a-mundo for the blog.Really thank you! Keep writing.

  82. Major thanks for the blog.Really thank you!

  83. I really liked your blog.Thanks Again. Cool.

  84. Only wanna remark that you have a very nice site, I love the design and style it really stands out.

  85. You made some nice points there. I looked on the internet for the topic and found most people will go along with with your blog.

  86. Thank you ever so for you blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Keep writing.

  87. Fitness blog says:

    Im thankful for the blog article. Want more.

  88. Say, you got a nice blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Awesome.

  89. GYM School says:

    Wow, amazing blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is excellent, let alone the content!

  90. There as a lot of people that I think would really enjoy your content.

  91. This is one awesome post.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

  92. Some really prime posts on this web site , saved to bookmarks.

  93. Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic blog post.Really looking forward to read more. Cool.

  94. Thanks for sharing, this is a fantastic article.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

  95. VPN test says:

    Merely a smiling visitor here to share the love (:, btw great style and design. Justice is always violent to the party offending, for every man is innocent in his own eyes. by Daniel Defoe.

  96. ugg boots uk ugg boots cheap ugg outlet sale genuine ugg boots ugg boots uk ugg australia pas cher cheap ugg boots sale ugg outlet

  97. Wow! This can be one particular of the most beneficial blogs We ave ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Excellent. I am also a specialist in this topic so I can understand your hard work.

  98. service. Do you ave any? Please allow me understand in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

  99. There are actually loads of details like that to take into consideration. That is a nice level to bring up. I provide the thoughts above as general inspiration however clearly there are questions just like the one you bring up the place an important thing shall be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if finest practices have emerged round things like that, however I’m positive that your job is clearly identified as a good game. Each boys and girls really feel the influence of just a moment’s pleasure, for the remainder of their lives.
    musically followers http://freemusicallyfollowers.site/

  100. Muchos Gracias for your article post.Really looking forward to read more.

  101. Google says:

    That would be the finish of this article. Right here you will locate some websites that we assume you will enjoy, just click the links.

  102. Google says:

    The time to study or take a look at the content material or web pages we’ve linked to below.

  103. It as not that I want to replicate your web page, but I really like the pattern. Could you tell me which style are you using? Or was it especially designed?

  104. Great article post. Keep writing.

  105. An impressive share, I simply given this onto a colleague who was doing somewhat analysis on this. And he in actual fact bought me breakfast as a result of I discovered it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! However yeah Thnkx for spending the time to debate this, I really feel strongly about it and love reading extra on this topic. If attainable, as you turn into experience, would you thoughts updating your blog with extra particulars? It is highly helpful for me. Massive thumb up for this weblog post!
    Buy Home Fast https://goo.gl/hUdmDW

  106. I think this is a real great post. Much obliged.

  107. There are some attention-grabbing points in time on this article however I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There is some validity but I will take hold opinion until I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we would like more! Added to FeedBurner as effectively
    Hostgator Black Friday 2017 Sale https://hostgatorblackfriday.xyz

  108. It’s best to take part in a contest for top-of-the-line blogs on the web. I will suggest this web site!
    computer program http://shadowfight2hackmod.com/privacy-policy/index.html

  109. This really answered my drawback, thanks!
    Bitcoin Super Rewards http://www.thebitcoinegg.com/earnfreebitcoins

  110. Really informative post.Thanks Again. Want more.

  111. Resources says:

    There are certainly numerous particulars like that to take into consideration. That is a nice level to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as common inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up the place a very powerful thing might be working in sincere good faith. I don?t know if greatest practices have emerged around things like that, however I’m certain that your job is clearly identified as a good game. Each boys and girls feel the affect of just a second’s pleasure, for the remainder of their lives.
    Resources https://soundcloud.com/user-851714304/clash-of-clans-free-gems

  112. Spot on with this write-up, I actually suppose this web site wants way more consideration. I’ll most likely be once more to read much more, thanks for that info.
    Read Full Report http://people.cs.nctu.edu.tw/~pohchen/lab/home.php?mod=space&uid=27884

  113. Google says:

    Just beneath, are various entirely not related websites to ours, even so, they’re surely worth going over.

  114. You can certainly see your skills in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  115. timber says:

    I will right away grab your rss feed as I can not find your email subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you ave any? Please let me know in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

  116. This website was how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something which helped me. Thanks!

  117. Wealthy and traveling anywhere and whenever I want with my doggie, plus helping get dogs fixed, and those that need homes, and organizations that do thus and such.

  118. Wow, marvelous blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site is excellent, as well as the content!

  119. Muchos Gracias for your article.Really thank you! Really Cool.

  120. You have made some decent points there. I checked on the internet for more information about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.

  121. Google says:

    Very few websites that transpire to become comprehensive below, from our point of view are undoubtedly well really worth checking out.

  122. Your style is so unique compared to other folks I ave read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this web site.

  123. Thanks again for the blog.Much thanks again. Really Cool.

  124. Thanks for the post.Much thanks again. Great.

  125. It is truly a great and useful piece of info. I am glad that you shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  126. Google says:

    Although internet websites we backlink to beneath are considerably not related to ours, we really feel they’re essentially really worth a go by, so have a look.

  127. Health Blog says:

    wow, awesome blog post.Thanks Again. Really Great.

  128. I truly appreciate this post.

  129. pipe clamp says:

    Thanks for good article. I read it with big pleasure. I look forward to the next article.

  130. Google says:

    Just beneath, are various absolutely not associated websites to ours, nonetheless, they are certainly really worth going over.

  131. It as hard to find experienced people on this subject, but you seem like you know what you are talking about! Thanks

  132. My blog addresses a lot of the same subjects as yours and I feel

  133. I appreciate you sharing this blog post.Really thank you!

  134. obat herbal untuk virus hpv

    Hallo i particularly like about the picture / article / presentation that you describe. Very unique, interesting and useful. denature adalah sebuah perusahaan yang bergerak dalam bidang obat herbal aman dan ampuh tanpa efek samping. Obat kami sangat ma…

  135. discount says:

    Thank you ever so for you blog post.Thanks Again. Awesome.

  136. Really appreciate you sharing this blog.Thanks Again. Cool.

  137. I value the article post.Much thanks again. Want more.

  138. This very blog is definitely entertaining and also informative. I have chosen helluva useful tips out of it. I ad love to go back again and again. Thanks!

Leave a Reply