On April 12, 2018

Rockin’ the Region with Bud Johnson

By DJ Dave Hoffenberg

Spring is in the air and that means a pond will be in the snow. This Saturday, April 14 marks the annual Killington Resort Pond Skimming event when 100 competitors will try to make their way across the pond or crash and splash. The wetness starts at 11 a.m. After the skimming, the Umbrella Bar deck will be rocking with Kind Bud’s Kind Dubs at 1 p.m. and Pete Kilpatrick at 3 p.m. The Bud Light Olympics will be going on with DJ Dave, as well. If you miss the show, you have another chance to see Bud’s act later at the Outback Pizza at 7 p.m.

Kilpatrick’s band opened up for Blues Traveler one month ago at Okemo. When he’s not with the band, he plays solo, which he’ll be doing in Killington. Maine-based singer/songwriter Kilpatrick grew up with a deep and resounding love of melody. With no formal training in music, he picked up the acoustic guitar at the age of 16 and began teaching himself how to play, crafting his own songs all while falling deeply in love with the process. After graduating high school, Kilpatrick put off college to focus his energy on a full-time career as a musician. He wrote and recorded his first album, “Half Way Home,” back in 2003. Between networking and a near-constant performing schedule throughout New England, he began to develop a loyal following that would continue to grow over the years. The next 10 years in his career saw the successful release of six additional albums (totaling over 40,000 albums sold), a brief record deal with Epic Records and over 1,000 live performances with shows alongside Dave Matthews Band, Jason Mraz, Pearl Jam lead guitarist Mike McCready, Ray Lamontagne, Guster and many others.

Bud Johnson last played in Killington as part of the Dazed and Defrosted festival in 2015 with his old band, The Kind Buds. Johnson recently embarked on a solo career with an act he has named Kind Dubs. With that he creates acoustic guitar overdubs and after 135 solo shows, his mastery of the looper is a skill to be heard and seen. I had the pleasure of speaking to him to learn of his new act, which I’m really looking forward to.

Bud plays his originals and a lot of “familiar groovy tunes,” as he puts it. He said, “I’ve really expanded my repertoire as a soloist. I’m doing nothing but learning new material.” When he was in the Kind Buds, they had a song list of 300, and now he’s drawing from over 1,000. He plays some classic rock and folk tunes. Johnson said, “I play a lot of obscure songs that everyone knows, but not everyone plays. I really dig doing Pink Floyd acoustic. Everyone does ‘Wish You Were Here,’ but I like to do ‘Echoes’ which is on side two of the ‘Meddle’ album. I don’t try and play it note for note, but I certainly take it out there for a good 10 minutes or so. Now that I have this looping pedal, I can create the background rhythm for when I go off on my solos with different effects to really enhance the song in my own style.”

Johnson has been a professional guitarist for about 25 years. He said, “I started out playing electric guitar in rock bands, but I always liked the acoustic guitar. I was in a duo with a piano player for years in a group called Braintree and that’s when I really became an acoustic player. Even today when I sit in with bands I bring my acoustic up there, because now that I have my looping pedal, I can make the sound of an electric guitar through my effects. I can really hone my sound to the situation I’m in.”

Johnson grew up a trumpet player in Hanover, N.H. He picked it up in the fourth grade at a school workshop and played it from then on. He joined the high school band and also played in the marching band. He didn’t put down the trumpet until he was 18 and went to Ithaca College. His roommate had a guitar and that’s when he started dabbling in it. His roommate was a Deadhead, so they mostly played Grateful Dead tunes, but he was better playing along to Santana. He said, “I didn’t know any chords or really know how to play guitar, but I could find the melody of Santana tunes pretty easily. I got pretty good playing some Santana.” His roommate, who could play the guitar, encouraged him to learn some chords so that he could play lead, since that’s what Johnson was mostly doing. Johnson said, “I was only playing lead because I didn’t know any guitar chords, but I had a good ear for what I was doing on the fretboard and started to figure that out.”

Johnson mostly taught himself and said he’s still working on it. He said that nowadays if he wants to learn a song, he can go on YouTube. His first public gig was at his college’s local pub and he performed “Eyes of the World” by Jerry Garcia for his first song. He said, “It was the first time I had the nerve to play in front of people. For the longest time, if people asked me if I played guitar I would say ‘No.’ I didn’t want them to say, ‘Oh play me a song.’ If I did it, I wanted to be decent at it, so I didn’t tell people right away until I built some confidence.” That was his junior year in college, so he had a couple years of practice under his belt.

When he moved to Vermont, he first played in a rock band called Toast and Jam. In the 90s, he was in the Braintree group and in 2004 he started the Kind Buds which he did for about 12 years. He doesn’t play the trumpet anymore, but his kids are all musical and play the saxophone, trombone and drums. The drummer is now a ukulele player.

Johnson will be playing a lot of festivals in the coming months. He just returned from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Resort in Hudson Valley, N.Y., which is dubbed The Grateful Escape. There he performed along with the Jerry Garcia Band, the Golden Gate Wingmen, Kung Fu and many more “greats” in the business. If you go to YouTube and search Kind Bud or Kind Dubs, you can see some of his performance from there – some originals, but also some cool covers like “Burning Down The House.”

Johnson started the year off with some spectacular shows in Jamaica, being a part of the Island Gigs Team. He performed daytime as part of the Ramble on the Island with Little Feat, Jackson Browne and the Midnight Ramble Band with Amy Helm (Levon’s daughter); Island Exodus with Warren Haynes, Gov’t Mule with JJ Grey and Mofro; and Jam in the Sand with Dark Star Orchestra and Hot Tuna. All those shows have stages right on the beach. It was a very cool experience for Johnson and he’ll be returning next year alongside moe. and the Hanson Brothers. Yes, those brothers from the 90s who Johnson said sell out everywhere.

Some of his upcoming shows include Yasgur’s Farm for a Woodstock reunion and the 13th annual Bears Picnic Family Reunion at Blain Picnic Grounds in Blain, Penn. He hopes to do the Boston Red Sox Grateful Dead Night that he’s played the past three years for the Rex Foundation. He plays at the House of Blues behind the Green Monster from 4-7 p.m. and then everyone goes into the game. He was also part of Dead & Company’s Boston Action Day last June, performing for Positive Legacy while volunteers made a positive impact on a homeless shelter in Boston by creating community gardens.

Performing solo allows Johnson the freedom to perform his own loops along with his own guitar playing. He explained. “I can really get into a groove and I can really express myself in my own lead playing when I have a good solid loop underneath me. Doing so much solo now, I’ve really grown as a musician. It’s really been fun despite all the practicing. I think it really wows people.” He has also started doing weddings and learning Frank Sinatra, Elvis and love songs.

Bud Johnson really enjoys what he does. He said, “I love music. I love to play music and to create a vibe that creates enjoyment, makes people smile and want to dance. I can be by myself and enjoy what I’m doing in a practice but it doesn’t compare to playing in a room full of people that are all grooving and riding the same vibe.”

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Bud Johnson

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