New York, NY (Top40 Charts)
"Johnny has played with musical monsters— Junior
Wells, Carey Bell, Koko Taylor, Hymie Shimansky. Okay, maybe not Hymie, but plenty of topnotch blues and rock musicians. The Claudettes are the culmination of it all, at this point, and he could stop here and have a legacy others would kill for." - No Depression.
Keyboardist Johnny Iguana began his career performing with blues legend Junior
Wells. Since his days with Wells, he has toured or recorded with a who's who of Chicago
blues greats: Otis Rush, Buddy
Guy, Billy Boy Arnold, James
Cotton, Lil' Ed, Carey Bell, Eddy Clearwater, John Primer, Lurrie Bell, Billy Branch and more. He has learned from the best during a lifetime of immersion and dedication, and he'll now release his debut blues-piano album as a leader on August 21 on the legendary Delmark Records. Johnny Iguana's Chicago
Spectacular! features an all-star cast including Lil' Ed, John Primer, Billy Boy Arnold, Bob Margolin, Matthew Skoller, Billy Flynn, Kenny Smith, Bill Dickens and Michael Caskey.
Johnny is not your typical blues piano player. At a time when bold originality is less welcomed in blues than it is in other music, Johnny stands out as an artist who has reached the apex of his craft but who has not allowed a strict definition of blues to limit his expression. His chordal creativity is as much on display as his blues-language fluency. It all makes sense and fully delights, as vintage blues and boogie morph into something new, intoxicating, witty, wild—yet still anchored in the traditions of the genre. It is traditional. It is contemporary and audacious. It is the story of Johnny Iguana, a one-of-a-kind piano man exalting his Chicago
blues heroes while making his own mark. In the bigger picture, it's compelling evidence that blues today is vital, and still evolving.
All along, Johnny has also had his own decidedly non-blues rock bands, playing his distinctively grimy overdriven organ. First came Stevie Lizard & His All-Reptile Orchestra (late '90s). Then came the nationwide cult favorite oh my god. His band Them vs. Them, formed with JQ of the Q Brothers, recorded and performed after that. The synth-fueled Software Giant came next.
Since late 2010, Johnny has been recording and touring with his "garage cabaret" band the Claudettes. who started as a piano-drums instrumental duo with Michael Caskey and have now released three recordings as a four-piece with Berit Ulseth singing and Zach Verdoorn on bass, receiving international accolades from prestigious outlets like NPR and LA Weekly.
Growing up in Philadelphia, Johnny Iguana zeroed in on Junior
Wells and Otis Spann after becoming obsessed with Chicago
blues at age 15. In his later teens, armed with a fake ID and a sport coat, he played countless all-night blues gigs at Philly bars. A few years later, Johnny met Junior
at a New York show and was thrilled when Wells hired him after two live auditions. Johnny packed his bags and spent three years touring and recording with Junior. Decades later, Johnny still calls Chicago
home and has emerged as one of the premier blues piano players in the United States.