Who to Hear: Chuck Johnson

It's no surprise that many of the songs on Chuck Johnson's latest instrumental album, Velvet Arc, began as ideas for film and television soundtracks. In addition to his records, Johnson writes music for documentaries like HBO's Private Violence and PBS's A Chef's Life, which is filmed in Johnson's home state of North Carolina. Centered around Johnson's confident guitar melodies, each song on Velvet Arc feels like a mini soundtrack with its own storyline, replete with elements of Americana, folk, and German krautrock. Johnson moved to Oakland to attend Mills College's MFA program in electronic music in 2007, but, with his last few records, has transitioned to making acoustic guitar-driven instrumental music. After performing solo for many years, he's now enjoying the freedom of playing electric guitar with a full band. “Playing acoustic guitar can be like threading a needle sometimes,” he said. “With electric, the sound just kind of plays itself a little more.”

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