Music is like the hub of a wheel and I like to access as many spokes as I can. I'll leave the categories to the marketing experts. I draw my line at Good, or Bad Music" ... Johnny V 1972.
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Johnny V forged his original fire-brand style of blues touring and performing internationally for more than three decades. The term "getting in your face" has never known a better illustration than when the "Vmeister" starts firing volleys of scorching guitar passages intertwined with his passionate vocals. Like the original blues greats, it has not been an easy course for Johnny to chart in order to reach larger and more understanding audiences. It's his distinctive phrasing and monster guitar tones that make the V-man stand out. He's not a one trick pony or a flavour of the day, and has remained true to the form. You may hear hints of the great players he has studied, but his style is all his own and he understands the idiom right down to the tones, licks, and equipment. If you have ever witnessed one of his live performances, the first thing you notice is he always has the right sound for the song being played. Wherever Johnny V plays return engagements are the order of the day. If not acting as a headliner, it's not uncommon to find him sitting in, supporting, or providing back-up for renowned blues statesmen. He's garnered the respect of the genres finest artists and feels fortunate to have shared the stage with such luminaries as B.B. King, John Hammond, Otis Rush, Dr. John, Amos Garrett, Delbert McClinton, Pinetop Perkins, Eddy Clearwater, Sonny Rhodes, Frankie Lee, Larry Davis, Mighty Joe Young and Johnny Clyde Copeland to name a few. Johnny V is about the Blues. All his independent recordings have captured the attention of industry professionals globally, and been nominated for Juno awards on more than one occasion. Even the recordings he played on with Canada‚Äôs blues godfather Richard Newell (AKA King Biscuit Boy) "Urban Blues Re:Newell" and Amos Garrett's "Third Man In" were both nominated for Juno awards. Fans of the blues know only to well that if Johnny V is in the house, the joint's going to rock. As world renowned bluesman John Hammond said "Johnny V is a hard working guy who really plays the Blues"
Elder Chicago Bluesman Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater first noticed Johnny in 1986 and invited him to live at his home in Chicago and join the band. Eddy took Johnny out on the road to promote him to the blues audiences in the U.S. and Canada. In 1988 Eddy put up the initial capital for Johnny to start work on his first solo recording project. In 1989 Johnny released those recordings of ten original songs titled "Roosters and Hens" and won a Juno Award in 1991 for his song "I Need A Woman" from those sessions. Throughout the years that followed, Johnny pursued his own career gleaning many awards and recognition along the way. Then in September of 1998 Eddy Clearwater once again invited Johnny to Chicago to be part of his new band. Johnny accepted the offer and moved to Chicago, he performed with "The Chief" in clubs, theatres and festivals throughout the continental United States, Europe, and South America for almost a year, then in July of 1999 he accepted an offer to become a member of Billy Branch's band "The Sons of Blues" and continued touring the globe as part of the "SOB". He even welcomed in the new millennium at The Kingston Mines (Chicago's oldest and most famous blues club) performing with "The SOBs" on New Year's Eve. He remained with Billy until late January of 2000 when he was invited to fly to Riga, Latvia to groom and record with the Latvian Blues Band. He spent 7 weeks there teaching master classes and arranged, produced, mixed, and recorded a new CD called "Blues Party" released in late May 2000 on Laura Records. It was the first ever blues recording done in that country. He then was invited to Greece to perform with the original Louisiana Red (Iverson Minter). In 2001 Johnny spent almost 4 months in the Ukraine establishing himself and trailblazing a path for future bluesmen.
He is presently home in Calgary working locally with his band The Johnny V Trio until his son completes high school. He released an independent live CD in 2001 titled "Mustard and Relics" and in 2005 recorded and released the CD "Agonostically Eclectic" in order to keep his name out there while he focuses his attention on his son and attends to his responsibility as a father. As respected blues guitarist Dave Myers said "Johnny V can play man, he's deep, real deep"
Bookmark this page for updates and more tales of this fine Canadian Bluesman.
Johnny V's Webhouse by Blow Your Top Productions, Canada ©1996 - 2010
1991- Won a Juno Award, Best Roots and Traditional category, for "I Need a Woman" on the release "Saturday Night Blues", a compilation of Canadian blues artists.
1993 - Nominated for a Juno Award in the Blues and Gospel category for "Terra Firma Boogie" with the his band Triple Threat
1994 - Won Best Canadian Blues Guitarist from Real Blues Magazine
1995 -Won four awards from Real Blues Magazine
Canadian Bluesman of the Year
Best Canadian Slide Guitarist
Best Live Performance by a Band (Yale Hotel Sept. 95)
Best Canadian Blues Band (Tied with Back Alley John's Band)
1996 - Nominated for a Juno Award in the Blues and Gospel category for the release of Johnny V's Blues Allstars "If My Daddy Could See Me Now" (Blow Your Top Productions/Festival.)
1996 - Won three awards from Real Blues Magazine
Best Blues Slide Guitarist
Best New Release "If My Daddy Could See Me Now" (Blow Your Top / Festival Distribution)
Best Blues Song "The Depression Blues" (written by Johnny's father the late S.J. Mills and released on "If My Daddy Could See Me Now")
1997 - Nominated for an A.R.I.A. (Alberta Recording Industry) Award in the category of "Best Blues Artist 1996"
1997 - Won the "Canadian Breakout Artist of the Year" award, presented to him by the Motor City Music Awards during his performance at Bluesfest International.
1998 - Nominated for two Mapleblues Awards in the categories of "Blues Entertainer of the Year" and "Best Blues Guitarist"
1998 Won Best Canadian Slide Guitarist from Real Blues Magazine
2005 - Nominated for a Mapleblues Awards in the category of "Best Blues Guitarist"
Canada's Arts & Entertainment Television Station, The Bravo Network, aired a ten part series titled "The Bluesman". The half hour shows featured a different Canadian Blues Artist each week from November 5, 1996 to Jan 14 1997. Scott Dobson produced the Johnny V episode and Gerry Young of By The Way Productions was executive producer and director. The footage was shot live at The Silver Dollar in Toronto on Friday, October 25, 1996 and was telecast on January 14, 1997. It was also aired on BET (Black Entertainment Television) in the United States in 1999, and 2000.
Johnny appears in Amos Garrett's video, "Poor Fool Like Me." from the Stony Plain Records release "Third Man In"
Johnny was the featured guest artist on Amos Garrett's nightly television show "Nite Notes" broadcast by CFRN in Edmonton in 1991
Mid-Winter Bluesfest (with Sonny Rhodes) Saskatoon, Saskatchewan / Mid-Winter Bluesfest 2007 (with Sonny Rhodes) Regina, Saskatchewan / Alberta Ride For Sight (2006 & 2007)/ Calgary Beltine Bluesfest / Kaos Bluesfest, Calgary / The Maximum Bluesfest, Carleton, Quebec / Thunder Bay Bluesfest,, Ontario / Bluesfest International, London, Ontario / Bluesfest International, Windsor, Ontario / The Wine and Jazz Festival, Yalta, Crimea, Ukraine / The Spring Jazz Festival, Donetsk, Ukraine / Saulkrasti Jazz Music Festival, Saulkrasti, Latvia / The Chicago Blues Festival, Chicago, Illinois / The King Biscuit Blues Festival, Helena, Arkansas / The Waterfront Blues Festival, Portland, Oregon / Hood River Festival, Hood River, Oregon / Triple Harp Attack Festival, Cleveland, Ohio / Hopefest 2000, Chicago, Illinois / New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival / Memphis in May International Festival / Azimut Festival, La Pesse, France / Halton Regional Bluesfest, Ontario / North Country Fair, Joussard, Alberta / Black & Blues Festival, Montreal, Québec / Ecaussinnes Spring Blues Festival, Belgium / Baie Comeau Blues Festival, Quebec / Bluesfest International, Windsor/Detroit / Calgary International Jazz Festival / Edmonton International Jazz Festival / Calgary Folk Music Festival / Edmonton Folk Music Festival / Harrison Festival of the Arts, BC / Mission Folk Music Festival / Winnipeg Winter Blues Festival / Kenora Winter Blues festival / Calgary First Night Festival / Edmonton First Night Festival / Toronto Harbourfront / Regina Folk Music Festival / Saskatoon International Jazz Festival / South Country Fair, Alberta / Canmore Heritage Daysn/ Regina Winter Blues Festival / Saskatoon Winter Blues Festival / Mustard Seed Ministry's Christmas Concert for the Homeless /
1989 - Johnny V and the Houserockers, "Roosters and Hens" (Independent). Eddy Clearwater helped finance this recording of 10 original songs. James Harman makes a guest appearance, and King Biscuit Boy (Richard Newell) is featured throughout. The song "I Need A Woman" from these sessions put a Juno Award on Johnny's shelf.
1991-Saturday Night Blues "The Great Canadian Blues Project" Volume 1 (C.B.C./Stony Plain/WEA) Richard Craig and Holger Petersen spent many months compiling this collection of Canadian blues artists. It won a Juno Award for best Roots and Traditional recording.
1992 - Amos Garrett, "Third Man In" (Stony Plain/W.E.A Records). Johnny contributed two songs to this project and played guitar with Amos on three tracks. Johnny's "I Ain't Lying" was used on the "Northern Exposure" television series, and in 2001 his other original "Lost Love" from this release was picked up for the television series "The Chris Issak Show". These 2 songs were also used in episodes of "DaVinci's Inquest" and "Robson Arms" "Lost Love" alos appears on the Amos Garrett compilation, Buried Alive in the Blues, on Voodoo Records (Paris, France, 1994).
1993 - Triple Threat, "Terra Firma Boogie" (Festival/Independent). This release was nominated for a Juno Award. Johnny wrote the title song and four others.
1994 - Don Johnson, "It Ain't Easy Being Blue" (Festival/Independent). Johnny mixed, co-produced, helped arrange and played guitar on this first solo release by Grammy Award winning Texas bluesman Don Johnson.
1995 - King Biscuit Boy, "Urban Blues Re:Newell" (Stony Plain/Blue Wave). Johnny was invited to incorporate his unique style of guitar playing and helped with some of the musical arrangements on this project. This release was nominated for a 1995 Juno Award.
1996 - Johnny V's Blues Allstars, "If My Daddy Could See Me Now" (Festival/Independent). Johnny's first solo project of the '90's. It was nominated for a 1996 Juno Award in the Blues and Gospel category. Read the reviews or better yet, pick up a copy and hear for yourself why he is considered to be one of the top Canadian bluesmen performing today.
In 1998 while living in Chicago Johnny was asked by head engineer Jack LeTourneau to lay tracks on many projects at the infamous Paragon Studios. Johnny's guitar playing can be heard on the 1999 Sam Cockrell & The Groove, "I'm In The Business" (Independent). Famed Chicago bassist, singer, and songwriter Sam Cockrell hand picked the guitar players and special guests for this, his first solo CD. He asked Johnny V to perform on two of the 13 tracks. Guests on the CD include Jimmy Johnson, Carl Weathersby, Michael Coleman, Maurice John Vaughn, and many more. Just before Johnny left Chicago in January 2000 he laid a killer solo guitar track on the Reverend Terry House - (Single) "I Miss You" (Independent). Reverend House is living every parents worst nightmare. His 6 year old daughter Terry-Ann was murdered in the summer of 1999, and according to him the child's mother is the murderess. Reverend House was divorced from the mother years earlier, but still had contact with his children and had been fighting to get custody of them when this tragedy occurred. All because little Terry-Ann was going to tell her Daddy that "Mom was still smoking crack and working the streets to support her habit". Reverend House was so devastated by this terrible news that the only way he could get closure on the pain was to write this song and sing it out of his soul. He asked Johnny V to play guitar on it and Matt "The Cat" Ryan to play drums. The organ, piano, and keyboards are all Reverend House. The background vocals and gospel choir are all family members lending a hand. It was recorded in Chicago at the infamous Paragon Studios with the skilled hands of Jack LeTourneau engineering and producing.
2000 - Latvian Blues Band and Johnny V - "Blues Party" (Laura Records, Latvia/Independent). Latvia won back their independence in 1991 after living under the Soviet boot for almost 50 years and under the Nazi stranglehold of WWII before that. This tiny country and it's people have a right to sing the blues. The recordings were done in the Ex-Red Army Barracks, and the mixes were done in the Ex-Communist Party Headquarters. This CD is the end result of a collaboration between Johnny and some very young Latvian blues musicians. There are 12 excellent tracks with some special guests from the blues world in Latvia adding their expertise. There is even a song directed at Raimonds Pauls who himself is a Latvian, but during the Soviet occupation controlled the radio airwaves and recording studios. He sat on a committee that reviewed the musicians and composers and he helped stop many Latvian composers and musicians from getting any exposure what-so-ever. The musicians of Latvia refer to Raimonds Pauls' music as "Schlauger". It is very similar to bad elevator music. He became very popular and very rich because of his position. Today Mr. Pauls claims to be a Nationalist and is a member of the Nationalist Party in Latvia. I think he is more a "Survivalist" than anything else and cannot be trusted to ever do the right thing for his people.
2001 - YVR3 "Mustard and Relics" (Jag/Independent). Johnny V, Glen Yorga and Andrzej Ryszka formed YVR3 in January 2001, but have been recording live material since 1998 in venues around Alberta as the Johnny V Trio. In 2001 they finally had the opportunity to mix and release their first CD. The concept of YVR3 is that they will only release live material with no studio overdubs so the listener can truly decide if they like the band or not. No false impressions, or studio tricks, just 3 great musicians performing to the best of their ability. Fans and media are still talking about how great this recording is. Check it out for yourself.
2005 - Mike Clark Band "Clarkology" (Independent) Johnny is featured along with Amos Garrett throughout this second solo release by stellar saxman Mike Clark and he helped out with arrangements, mixing and producing too.
2005 - Johnny V's House Rent Party Band "Agonostically Eclectic" (Independent/BYTP) This is possibly Johnny's best work to date. 17 great tracks, 75 minutes of music, 6 part horn arrangements, and Sonny Rhodes dropped in and sang one of Johnny's tunes. If that ain't enough for you, Johnny's tune "Suicide Bomber Blues" is getting a serious look from some industry professionals and that's all we can say right now. Pick up a copy and give it a listen. Available at Megatunes
Born in Toronto, Ontario in the early 1950's he grew up listening to his parents singing and playing music together in their home. The week-end house parties with family, friends and neighbours was where Johnny first heard and developed a passion for the guitar. Johnny's father, S.J. Mills played guitar, rack harmonica and was a very fine songwriter. Johnny asked his dad to teach him when he was 11 years old. At 12 years old, Johnny would get up on Saturday mornings to go busking in Toronto's Jewish Markets (now known as The Kensington Markets) for money to buy LP's, 45's and get to the Saturday afternoon movies at the Orpheum Theatre. When he was 13 he formed a hard rockin' blues power trio called "Fuse". Their first paying gig was at a community centre on Brock Ave. in Toronto. Over the next two years the band got tight and played at the local youth dances held on Saturday evenings. Johnny was 15 when he hit the road playing music.
Johnny V made Calgary, Alberta his home in 1979 and has been a mainstay on the Blues scene of western Canada ever since. He's played many styles of music to keep the bills paid but has always remained true to his first love, the Blues. He headed up the house band at the King Edward Hotel in Calgary when it first turned to a blues format in 1985. Johnny V and the Houserockers played there 26 weeks that first year.
He has been the best kept secret in western Canada for the past 21 years and has spawned a whole generation of blues players from Alberta. When guitar god Amos Garrett first moved to Alberta he befriended Johnny and talked non stop about his style, technique and song writing. Such accolades from a truly stellar guitarist such as Amos amazed Johnny.
In 1991 with the birth of his son on the horizon Johnny folded up his solo efforts and formed "Triple Threat" (with Tim Williams and his old friend, harpmeister Rusty Reed) in order to be home and spend more time with his family. Triple Threat released "Terra Firma Boogie" in 1993 and were nominated for a Juno Award in the Blues and Gospel category. This CD was reissued in 1999 on Storm Warning Records and is once again available to the public.
Johnny V has received many words of praise and recognition from some of the genres finest artists yet he still remains "just a guy who loves to play the Blues". His second solo recording "If My Daddy Could See Me Now" was nominated for a 1996 Juno Award in the Blues and Gospel category and is still selling very well in Canada, Belgium, Holland, Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Japan, Latvia, and England.
In 1997 he appeared at the Ecaussinnes Spring Blues Festival and left a very serious impression on the blues fans of Belgium. He was presented the "1997 Canadian Breakout Artist of the Year" from The Motor City Music Awards during Bluesfest International (held annually with sites in both Windsor and Detroit). During Bluesfest International,Vista Jet Airlines sponsored the first ever "Blues Cruise in the Air". Johnny performed at 10,000 feet playing and singing through a battery operated PA system. He had the passengers singing along to "Let the Good Times Roll", "Sweet Home Chicago" and many other blues favourites. This was a private event that featured an actual wedding on the plane and the aircraft was blessed before take off by none other than Saturday Night Live's infamous Father Guido Sarducci.
In 1997 Johnny was nominated for an A.R.I.A Award (Alberta Recording Industry) in the category of "Best Blues Artist 1995-1996". He was nominated for two Mapleblues Awards (by the Toronto Blues Society) in the category of "Best Blues Guitarist" and "Entertainer of the Year".
In the fall of 1997 he brought Shirley King (daughter of Blues Master B.B. King) to the blues clubs of western Canada and had a very successful 18 day tour with the club owners and fans screaming for another tour ASAP.
He picked up another award from the good folks at Real Blues Magazine for the "1998 Canadian Slide Guitarist of the Year" and in the spring of 1998 the Johnny V Trio toured Central Canada and Upper New York State. On their way back to Alberta in early May they had a terrifying auto accident in northern Ontario. Bassist Rob Vause was airlifted to a Sudbury hospital and was on life support for 7 days before being able to breath on his own. This accident shattered Johnny's spirit and he was ready to call it quits when fans and friends from across the country showed their support for him and the band by organising many benefits to raise money for them.
In July 1998 Johnny was asked to put together a new band and appear at a few festivals throughout Canada, he also did a short tour with Shirley King, but his heart wasn't in it. While at home deciding what was next, Eddy Clearwater phoned Johnny in August and asked him to move to Chicago and join his band, Johnny felt this was the right move until he could get over the psychological devastation of the accident. The good news is that Rob Vause is back on the scene fully recovered. Johnny has since picked up the pieces of his life and together with the love and support of his family is back out there performing and recording again.
Johnny lived and worked out of Chicago touring the world as guitarist for the bands of Eddy Clearwater, Billy Branch, and a few other local Chicago bluesmen. In February 2000 he was invited to go to Latvia to teach masterclasses and record an album with The Latvian Blues Band. He then went on to Greece to perform and meet his wife for a working vacation. Later that year he booked a Canadian tour and performed with The Latvian Blues Band at festivals and clubs across the country. In August he was invited back to teach masterclasses at the Saulkrasti Jazz Music Festival in Latvia and was the closing performer Saturday night following Billy Cobham's Band.
In 2001 Johnny was invited to the Ukraine and spent almost 4 months their with a one month trip to Greece to tour and vacation with his wife and son. In 2001 he officially moved back home to Canada and put together a new version of The Johnny V Trio with drummer Andrzej Ryszka and bassist Glen Yorga (AKA YVR3). The band released a live CD titled Mustards and Relics in the fall of that year.
The summer of 2002 saw Johnny and his trio crossing Canada 4 or 5 times in support of the new CD with many festival and clubs appearances. He also put together a two week Canadian tour with Amos Garrett and Big Dave McLean called "The Best of the West - Prairie Pickers".
Stay tuned for more news.
"Johnny V is truly one of Canada's unsung blues heroes. In my opinion, his new release "If My Daddy Could See Me Now" is definitely one of the top 10 Canadian blues releases of all time"
"Totally mesmerising. Why doesn't he have a record deal? J.V.'s new album 'If My Daddy Could See Me Now' is the most honest blues recording I've heard out of Canada so far."
"There are just a handful of legitimate Canadian blues artists and Johnny V Mills is the true heavyweight champion of the Great Blues North... Johnny V is also easily the best blues songwriter in Canada and one of the best in all of North America (Established blues 'stars' would be wise to borrow material from Johnny V. Mills)...His new disc is one of those rare Canadian releases that can stand beside the best from anywhere... a real honest to goodness Canadian blues barn burner."
his recent work, culminating in this new CD, must place him in the premier league on the world blues scene. When you add to that a rich and raw, yet naturally relaxed vocal style and superb song writing skills you have the ingredients for a great blues potpourri... Johnny V, a man whom I regard as one of the finest blues guitarists playing today...
-Mick Rainsford (Blueprint "The Official Newsmagazine of the British Blues Connection")
"Johnny V has always been one of my favourite bluesmen. He really does it all. His songwriting, guitar playing and voice can turn the Great White North into a Tropical Paradise. His second solo release 'If My Daddy Could See Me Now' is the most played blues CD in Canada and should be heard by blues fans worldwide. It's my first choice for a 1996 Juno nomination."
- Eddy 'B' Brake (Blueheart Archives)
"It's one thing to see and hear Johnny V play... but to know he's a class act off stage makes things even more complete. This tribute CD to his dad S.J. Mills and the touching partnership with Sonny Rhodes lets you explore many years of blues genre that's rarely heard in one collection. "If My Daddy Could See Me Now" is more than a title ... it's a clear-cut message to S.J and he's smiling pretty brightly. Johnny's deft playing and Sonny's precise delivery makes this CD a collector's item... [And I mean every word of it!}"
"From the first beat on track 1 to the fade on track 14, Johnny V is unstoppable! "If My Daddy Could See Me Now" tops the list of "must have" CDs in 1996."
Tom Hathaway (Maximum Blues heard on AudioNet)
"Johnny's style is an eclectic one, leaning toward a swinging west coast sound that reminded me, upon first listen, of Duke Robbilard's latest project, "Duke's Blues." Johnny throws in some country blues as well as some fast pace rockin' numbers to add some spice to the mix. While he does not take a minimalist approach to his music, neither is he an over the top guitar wanger - he simply has a fine sense for what a particular tune calls for and delivers it up. One thing's for certain, whether cutting lose on some Elmore James inspired licks or playing one of his dad's down-home numbers, Johnny is serious about his blues and it comes through loud and clear. Finding this disc may take some effort, but it will be worth it, for its definitely a keeper".
Stormin' Norman (Sunday Blues on 99.3 FM CFOX, Vancouver, B.C.)
"His new CD is a gas. Johnny V is one of western Canada's blues mainstays, a solid singer and guitar slinger out of Calgary who also writes some interesting songs".
-Richard Flohil (The Record)
-Peter North (Edmonton Journal)
"Nothing short of an atomic blast is going to stop Johnny V from playing the blues... His new CD is a smokin' affair."
-James Muretich (Calgary Herald)
"When I start talking about Canadian blues guitar players you have to know Johnny V is the only one I ever talk long, loud and proud about. He caught my attention fifteen years ago. I have watched and listened to him get better and better over the years. He has a very distinctive style that is strictly 'V' all the way."
"Johnny V is a hard-working guy who really plays the blues."
"One of the most natural-feel players I've heard in 20 years. He can really sing and there's a real style to his writing. I had him play on and recorded two of his songs on my 'Third Man In' album"
"He's deep man, real deep"
Dave Myers (famed guitarist with Little Walter's band The Aces)
Johnny V's Webhouse by Blow Your Top Productions. Calgary, Alberta. Canada ©1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009