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I reached out to Johan Eliasson to find out what inspires him to jam with junk. In the blues world he is called "Bottleneck John" . Hailing from Sweden, Johan brings his blues talents and beautiful Dobro's to the open air forum of backyards and barn yards.
Seeking the company of antique tractors, engines, pumps and other assorted mechanised beat boxes, Johan brings the blues classics to his fans with a twist of humour and nostalgia. I really like the serendipity or irony of these mechanical monsters because it drags up historical references to other great blues masters who would be influenced by the clickity-clack of the narrow gauge railways of the southern USA.
I sure do hope that Bottleneck John comes on holiday to Spain and performs a show for us. I don't know what kind of machine we can round up for him to perform with? Well, I guess we can always use Wilf's Harley motorbike :)
CBBLUES: I cannot decide which video of yours is my favourite. Do you have a favourite? If so - why?
- BOTTLENECK JOHN: Out of the videos that I have made with mechanical rhythms - it’s hard to decide for me too, ha ha. They’re all great fun and I find them equally cool.
But if I have to name one or two it’ll be the one with the huuuge hot bulb engine and the one with the little water pump giving a great back beat with water splashing and rhythm swinging! Still, I dig them all and there’s more to come. I just found some great engines to play with.
Here’s my fav’s for the moment:
CBBLUES: Your vintage dobro is really beautiful and you have an authentic playing style with rich vocal tones. Who are your role models and favourite blues roots players? Can you name a couple and say why you were drawn to them?
- BOTTLENECK JOHN: Thanks and yes, my Dobro’s are nice. I have three vintage actual “DOBRO” guitars but many so called resonator guitars.
Don’t know which one you’re thinking on specifically but they’re all interesting instruments both from a musical and historical point of view, I love them!!
There’s so many that have influenced how I approach singing and guitar playing, not in detail but an overall feeling. Old masters like Blind Willie Johnson and Son House of course, contemporary heroes like Eric Bibb to name a few. There’s so much honesty and “truth” in their expression, it draws me in and make me feel. Vocally powerful and emotional, that’s what matters for me.
CBBLUES: Why do you suppose that Sweden has such a vibrant blues scene? Do many American blues performers come to Sweden?
- BOTTLENECK JOHN: We've had a blues scene over here since the 50’s and 60’s when many great US performers made their first tours overseas. And yes, many great American acts still tour here all year round.
There’s a huge interest for roots music, be it jazz, blues, gospel or soul, it’s all here. But also in many European countries, I’ve played all over and I always meet a great knowledge and interest in old blues.
Spain too, would love to come back some day soon to play!
Thanks Karla, hope to see you someday! BJ