Ramblin' Rhodes: Daniel Johnson Band off to a blazing start

The Daniel Johnson Band - Lee Hopkins (from left), Chris Cook, Daniel Johnson and Logan McCullough - will play at The Country Club at 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10.

The Daniel Johnson Band, which was formed in late 2010, sings of having “one foot out of the door” on its debut six-song CD Dry County Nights.


But the truth is this four-piece band already is so hot musically and so professionally tight that it is not only out the door but running 90 miles an hour on that road heading for success.

The band will play at 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10, at the Country Club Dance Hall and Saloon, 2834 Washington Road. Admission is $3 for women and $5 for men. Call (706) 738-5039 or see www.augustacountry.com.

DJB’s new CD, recorded at Sonica Studios in Atlanta and produced by John Briglevich, ranks as one of the best debut efforts of any area group.

Making up the quartet are lead vocalist and acoustic guitarist Daniel Johnson and drummer Chris Cook of Thomson, Ga.; electric guitarist Lee Hopkins of Reno, Ga.; and bass guitarist Logan McCullough of Glennville, Ga.

For their CD, they also added several session musicians.

Their base right now is Statesboro, Ga., where Johnson co-founded the band with childhood buddy Cook while both were students at Georgia Southern University.

Johnson, Cook and Hopkins have graduated from GSU. McCullough is still a student. They follow in the tradition of other great GSU musician-students including Eric Lee Beddingfield, Luke Bryan, Ben Hayslip, Tony Arata, Doug Flowers and Pat Blanchard Sr.

Johnson co-wrote four songs on the CD with band manager Randy Fields and wrote two others by himself.

Although the band has strong roots in classic Southern rock music, it also draws from other influences based on the musical tastes of its members.

“I know how these guys play and what they like,” Johnson said by phone. “I have the basics in my head, but I kind of leave the music real open for their input.

“Most of the songs on this CD were written within two months of going into the studio last February. I had older songs written, but I wanted new songs to define who we are now.”

Johnson said he writes all the time, usually when he is riding in a car and talking or singing into an MP3 recorder.

“I wrote Let It Go riding Statesboro and Thomson,” Johnson recalled. The song is about a guy who takes his father’s advice to not let all the difficulties in life that he can’t change get to him.

Johnson’s powerful voice adds just the right country flavor on his up tempo numbers Alabama Girl and Rollin’ as well as his ballads Bourbon, Let It Go, Runaway and One Foot Out The Door.

“I feel like in a short amount of time we’ve been able to accomplish a lot,” Johnson observed. “I feel like we’re headed in the right direction, although there still is plenty that needs to be done. We’re still trying to figure what it is we have to offer and how we fit into that puzzle.”

Johnson is a semi-finalist for Male Artist of the Year on the Web site www.georgia-country.com. The current round of online voting to determine six finalists ends at noon Sunday, Aug. 19. Then four more weeks of voting determines the winner.

You can learn more about the band and their music at danieljohnsonband.com including their increasingly busy tour schedule. You can hear the new CD’s songs by clicking on the “Music” link and then on the individual song titles.

If you can’t catch them at the Country Club, nearby dates take them to Coleman Lake in Midville, Ga., on Aug. 16; and to Millhouse, Aug. 23; Gnat’s Landing, Aug. 25; and Chops on Main, Aug. 30, all in Statesboro.

All of those definitely will be warmer than the first paid date for the band, which was playing on a flatbed trailer in the middle of a cotton field near Statesboro in freezing weather in January of 2011.

“We agreed to play at this birthday party outside in that cotton field,” Johnson recalled. “There was this big flood light behind us. I had on probably four different layers of clothes and still was cold.

“My drummer came back from a break and said, ‘Daniel, come look at this.’ His drum head had frozen over with ice. He just hit it with his drum stick, broke up the ice and went back playing.

“They had turned this rusted old hopper into a fire pit, and there were about 10 barrels with fire. I think the crowd was fine, but we were the ones nearly frozen.”


WHO: Daniel Johnson Band

WHEN: 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10

WHERE: Country Club Dance Hall and Saloon, 2834 Washington Road. Details: $3 women, $5 men; (706) 738-5039, www.augustacountry.com