Several years ago I heard about people playing cigar box guitars and found a few YouTube videos of back porch players picking their homemade creations. I gave some consideration to building one but shelved the thought until this past winter. After several failures I finally whipped the learning curve and emerged from the basement with what I call, “a player.” Not to be confused with, “a wall hanger.”
In May I took a drive to Huntsville, AL and attended my first cigar box guitar festival. One of the headlining acts was a young guitarist named Justin Johnson. In the world of CBGs, Justin considered one of the reigning royalty. He is not a vocalists but during his performance he plays a wide variety of non-traditional stringed instruments ranging from a single-string “diddley bow” to a six-string lap steel built on top of an old wooden ironing board.
Saturday afternoon of the festival Johnson led a workshop on basic slide guitar playing and I was fortunate enough to find an empty seat. Being there hasn’t made me a better slide player but I did get to sit within a few feet of the magic emanating from his fingers. Afterwards we shook hands and exchanged a few pleasantries.
Since Huntsville Justin and I have become friends through a Facebook group comprised of CBG enthusiasts. I wasn’t able to attend but in late August he was a headliner at the Pennsylvania CBG Festival. During the event he appearanced on local broadcast media as well as in print media.
One entertainment magazine, Fly Magazine, published a story about the journey Justin and his girl friend, Nikki, have been on for the past year. My youngest daughter has long talked about wanting to cash in her chips and become an RV road warrior. Well, that’s exactly what Justin and Nikki have done. If you’ve ever entertained similar thoughts you will probably enjoy reading about this couple and their Gypsy Van. Click HERE for the story.
Also, check out the following video of Justin playing a great sounding 4-string CBG and you’ll discover why his fans and fellow pickers call him, The Wizard.