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Johnny Hiland

Guitarist Johnny Hiland was born with nystagmus, a medical condition causing involuntary eye movement and rendering him legally blind. He grew up in a trailer home in Woodland, ME, and took to the guitar at a young age. At eight, he joined his family's band, the Three Js, which toured New England under the auspices of the Down East Country Music Association. At ten, Hiland won the Talent America contest, entitling him to a performance in New York City. In high school, his musical tastes extended beyond bluegrass to the guitar rock of players like Joe Satriani and Eddie Van Halen. After high school, he attended the University of Southern Maine as a history major, but ultimately dropped out to become a professional musician.

In 1996, he moved to Nashville, where he quickly attracted attention at local clubs, earning a residency at the World-Famous Turf and, when that club was destroyed by a tornado in 1998, at Robert's Western Wear with Don Kelly's band. He backed Gary Chapman at the Ryman Auditorium, home of the Grand Ole Opry, and became the first unsigned artist in Nashville to receive an endorsement deal with Fender musical instruments. After his manager left part of a demo on Steve Vai's voice mail, Vai called back with an offer for Hiland to sign to his Favored Nations label. There followed two years of trial-and-error preparation for Hiland's first album of original country and rock guitar instrumentals, Johnny Hiland, released in August 2004. Meanwhile, Hiland had become a busy session musician in Nashville, recording with Ricky Skaggs, Toby Keith, Randy Travis, Janie Fricke, and Lynn Anderson. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi
full bio

Comments

What a great story - leave some music on Steve Vai's voice mail and that leads to a recording contract. Although I read somewhere that's how Steve first connected with Frank Zappa - playing for him over the phone. Johnny's tone is so clear. Everything perfectly articulated. Amazing.
Opus D' Funk... a lot of joy in that playing and melody. Very sweet.
This amazing player helps fill a little of the giant hole left in my heart when Danny Gatton died!
skirtsoplain
good stuff
The guy is definitely a whiz. I've been playing for about 50 years and currently play semi-profess i o n a l l y . He does things I could never do.

I think it's a shame that the bio has to lead with the information on his disability. It has nothing to do with his musicianship , and if mentioned at all should be a post script, like you'd see for Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, or Django Reinhardt. The way it is now, it pushes the discussion to a sort of freak show spin.
augustalaw
This guy is simply masterful. I too only discovered him recently on Pandora. World class guitarist.
I wish I could play 1/5 as good as this amazing musician.
I would agree with you completely, Kevin. I happen upon the amazing music of an artist like Johnny Hiland every couple of years and I always ask myself, "How is it that a guy this talented is flying below everybody's radar?" He plays such a sweet blend of country, rock, and jazz styles that you would expect every producer in Nashville and Austin to have Johnny on speed dial. But the music biz just doesn't work that way. And that's a damn shame.
Super sound!
I probably never would have heard of this guy if it wasn't for Pandora. It's depressing how the truly talented musicians go widely unrecognized in the U.S.
bradhaven1
WOW so much fun to listen to, great chops killer solos, master of the telecaster
andyczech
Now that's something else, folks. This guy is in different league alltogether. What a kick! Amazing how many fantastic artists there are in US and yet pop culture won't give them second thought...wh a t a shame!!! I guess Britney Spears (it makes me cringe having to even having to type this name that represents nothing but outmost decadence) culture is what is being exported out of here and unfortunatel y , that is how the world sees US. This is the best country to play music in. There is sooo much
the more I listen, the more you realize he a master of the instrument
salembierusa
This guy is brilliant! He is a master of the instrument.

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