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These are the latest reviews of my performances and/or CD's.

From the FOLIO WEEKLY Magazine (08/13/02)
 
THE RON WAY
 
To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to hearing RON JOHNSON's latest release, "Florida Moon", which features two palm trees on the cover and song titles like "I Like Grits." The record looked like a Parrothead's dream. As the opening song (the title track) played, expectations were confirmed. Then I heard the rest of the album. If the name Ron Johnson sounds familiar, it should. He is a Jacksonville Renaissance man who works at two hospitals as a clinical social worker, hosted the long-running TV music program "Jacksonville Downbeat," and, in his spare time, has played in local bands 419 and Hank Marlee. His solo album consists of a dozen carefully written acoustic songs that drown in his musical influences: Bob Dylan, Bob Marley and Stevie Ray Vaughan. However, the strongest influence on Florida Moon seems to be the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen. Songs like "Veteran's Day Parade" and "Don't Fall In Love With Me" sound like outtakes from the New Jersey native's "Nebraska" or "The River" albums. On "Veteran's Day Parade" the lyrics read: "I worked in a hospital/ I worked for the V.A./ I saw those men and those women too/ Everyday/ Taking 12 steps for addictions/ Pills for Post Trumatic Stress/ And physical therapy for the amputees." Johnson, who served as a corpsman in the Navy for many years, pays homage to America's heroes the way Springsteen honored the factory worker. "Hittin' The Wall" sounds like an acoustic demo of a rocking "Born In The U.S.A." leftover. What makes Johnson's work unique is his ability to tell stories. "Invisible Hands" preaches the cliched "do unto others" idea but Johnson's lyrics are uncommonly subtle. "Those Days" is an American History lesson likening the wave of horror and vulnerability the nation felt when JFK was assassinated to the recent terrorist attacks in Washington and New York City. "Florida Moon's" most entertaining moment is "St. John's River Talking Blues." Part geography lesson/part 1960's protest anthem, the song mixes intelligence and humor to rage against Palatka-based industrial giant General Pacific Corp. for attempting to discard, via pipeline, up to 60 million gallons of toxic wastewater each day into the St. John's River. "I'm not normally a protest singer," Johnson explains. "But this song more or less wrote itself." Since learning of this environmental injustice, Johnson has began urging people to boycott Georgia Pacific products. Johnson can be seen every Friday evening at Paradise Alley in Jacksonville Beach."   By Matthew VALARO (Folio Weekly Jacksonville, FL)

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