Tag Archive: indie singer songwriter

Wolf Navarro Custom Guitars, Anaheim, CA, NAMM 2016

Wolf Navarro Custom Guitars, Anaheim, CA, NAMM 2016

Huge shout out to Wolf Navarro, who graciously got me into NAMM this year. If

surprise performance and yuck it up, Ultracase, Anaheim, NAMM 2016

Got to play and share music with these two extraordinary koa instruments, made 1929, Sam Kamaka, Hawaii

you can, next year and you’re into music in some way, shape, or form—GO TO NAMM. Mind blowing and inspiring in every way. I had but one day, not enough to see, do, hear, meet, and play all that there is to experience.

Next year!

Pics and fun below.


Tonight, I’m back in San Luis Obispo where I headline Songwriter’s at Play Monday evening soiree at Bang the Drum Brewery.


Stephen Sukop builds beautiful basses

Stephen Sukop builds beautiful basses

Josephine doing her best Buffy Saite-Marie

My best Buffy Saite-Marie




A quick check in — Winter Warm It Up is underway!

Tuesday evening was a blast with Rob (Robbie!) Kimball on his KCBX radio show, Pickin’ Up The Tempo–click it, and link to his show. You can listen live every Tuesday, 8 to 10pm, and you can link and listen to the archive of our show. Yeah, it was fun—Rob knows decades of music, musicians, instruments, who played what on which studio recording. Encyclopedic. Check it out!

Josephine & Rob Kimball, KCBX, 90.1, San Luis Obispo, Pickin' Up The Tempo

Josephine & Rob Kimball, KCBX, 90.1, San Luis Obispo, Pickin’ Up The Tempo


And, the Times Press Recorder picked up the story—click the pic of Rob and me to read what they have to say—super kind!

Being a focused, professional singer-songwriter has its very lonesome moments. Rehearsing, writing new material, emailing venues, composing press releases (sent out 28 for Winter Warm It Up), flyer design, phone calls, more rehearsing, social media, social media, social media, hours driving to/from performances, more writing, more emailing, more rehearsing—did I mention social media? I do nearly all of this all by myself. In fact, the Winter Warm It Up flyer is an excellent example: I used an iPhone selfie; designed flyer; booked all gigs; sent hard-copies to all venues, made follow up calls to ensure flyers received (Mercury retrograde until Jan 25). Yeah, I did all of that. And more! Because this is what I want. I do. Beneath the bell jar of constant diligence, though, I’m prone to losing sight of the bigger picture, that ultimately I do this lonesome work so I can share my love of and gift for singing/music, which is a lovely, happy,

droids do it digitally

because fun

golden, shining social thing with lots of wonderful people. I do this so I can connect, so that that maybe a little of how I sing my joy, love, pain, frustration will resonate, challenge, inspire, and make you think. I’m not complaining, just being real. And I know I’m not alone, other songwriters have expressed similar feelings. Basically, you have to love this to do this. And I do. Love it Please know, your words, likes, cheers, photos, links, and emojis do help buoy my faith, help bolster the fortitude necessary to keep on–Sing, baby, sing! Thank you, thank you so much!!!

And check out my gig schedule website www.josephinejohnsonsings.com



I’m getting ready for the tour.

And SoCal sunshine.

It’s still there, right, sunshine?

Here’s a quick vid – enjoy!

(stay dry)




 oh Angel City * keep my shifting focus true * art words music you

oh Angel City * keep my shifting focus true * art words music you

I have to share this because Hollyweird happens:


Like today, after farmers market when a fellow creative put me in check, a chiding encouragement delivered with body-shaking force to show-me-the-life-of-the-mind.


A young man originally from Georgia writing in Hollywood, socially-media-ed and strategic. We have our phones and use them to look at each other’s work and projects, a peek into where we’ve been as reference for where we’re going. Where we want to be.


Where we will be.


“Sing something right now,” he casually dared.


Of course. Amazing Grace—my song. A mantra. Everyday.

I sang. Delivered. The people sitting next to, across from us smiled, the guy

selecting focus * shapes how you feel about the * things within your view

selecting focus * shapes how you feel about the * things within your view

behind the counter smiled. A shared moment of unexpected cheer and authenticity. It was nice.


The light coming through the large open windows shifted with the passing clouds. The young man stood up slim and serious and grabbed my shoulder, pulling me to my feet.


“What are you doing? When the grace of God shines on you, you must use it. Be relentless. Everyday you sing—sing covers, sing originals and post them on YouTube. You have a YouTube, use it! Be relentless. Live relentless. RELENTLESS. Listen to me, Monday you are relentless and you shine and you don’t give up. Shine on, angel sister!”


His gripped my shoulder firmly once more before raising an eyebrow and sitting. The fervor of our conversation reached the people beside us, drawing us all together. And it was good.


perspective depends * on where you choose to focus * choice is up to you

perspective depends * on where you choose to focus * choice is up to you

Here’s the thing: I had just been having—five minutes prior?—a conversation with a friend encouraging him to use video and YouTube and social media to promote his band (Free Rain) and new CD. When this young man stood up and shook my shoulder, it was like all that encouragement, advice and ideas I’m constantly spouting were double-slammed back at me. Listen, we’re telling YOU: follow your own damn advice and do those things! LISTEN!


Fuck. Be relentless, lady.



Do not give up.

Do what you say.


Not too long after, I had to excuse myself. Because I got sick, really, like ate-something-funky-at-the farmers-market ick. Puked. Not good. And I had to bail on dinner plans with Kyle and Iku. I went home. Got sick again. And slept until now when I am compelled to re-commit to relentless.


But do you see how we’re connected here? It’s like when you recognize another beating white heart against the flames and the urgency you feel to reach across the inferno to help keep each other’s space. You get it?


Also check out Barton Fink.


Hey! Kosuke and I get to do the House of Blues again—the Parish Room. Tickets are just $15.  I can get them to you, or we can e-ticket. Holla. I’ll hook you up!




Yup, we'll be there again---this time the Parish Room ;)

Yup, we’ll be there again—this time the Parish Room 😉

by Josephine Johnson

Howdy. Here are two bright bits of news 🙂 Thursday (tomorrow) I’m kicking off  SHINE, an evening of storytelling at the Westside Santa Monica YWCA. Doors open at 7p. $10 suggested donation. The theme is finding bravery, which, if you’ve been following the Josephine saga, is more than apropos. I’ll be sharing my best and most uplifting tunes along with a story or two from 7:30 to 8p.

And then on Friday, November 21, Stormy Phoenix at KCSS 91.9 is featuring my CD Let It All Out from 4 to to 6p. KCSS is the alternative music voice of CSU Stanislaus. You can stream it and listen live here. (Thank you, Stormy, you are kind and rockin’.)

Ok, this is a quickie. Love and good things to you. ~Jos


shine moxie, shine

finding bravery Thursday, November 20, 7:30, pm

Heya! I know, you’re hankerin’ to get those creative juices flowing, maybe a little writing, some instrument playing… you’re getting into the idea of …the ukulele. You really, really want to wow your friends with Somewhere Over the Rainbow but you need a little help, inspiration? Well, check this out, I teach music and I’d sure love to teach YOU 🙂 What, you’re not so into the ukulele and wanna learn some guitar instead? OK, we can do that. Or, maybe you want to transform that shoebox of lyric-littered scrap paper into a song or two?  Yeah, I can help push and pull words together—let’s get started on this and finish a song, or two, or three or four.

What are you (we) waiting for? Let’s get creative and learn!

Right now, I’m doing an introductory special—a free  half hour lesson to get an idea, a feel, for some of the things you’ll learn. We can meet at your home, local park, or other public place. My regular rates are $30 for half hour lesson and $45 for a full hour. An LA bargain, to be sure. Get in touch—email me at josephine.jhnsn@gmail.com. Josephine on Facebook. Josephine songwriting with the kids on YOUTUBE.

Let’s do this!

I will teach you ukulele

For reals, I can teach you, your children, your grandma–perhaps even your pouch–how to play ukulele 🙂



The number one thing my students complain about in Los Angeles is traffic. And it’s my Swiss and German students, who, no doubt accustomed to trains

brake check

brake check

running like clockwork, are most often dismayed with LA’s lackluster public transit. Why, they ask, are the busses always so late? It’s not just LA I respond. I concede that in general, America doesn’t have very well-funded or well-developed infrastructure for mass transportation. After WWII, I explain, America built a bubble empire around private vehicle ownership, and then many communities ripped out well-established trolley lines and bus routes to encourage the use of cars. This was the case especially in southern California. Meanwhile, Japan, Korea, and much of Europe invested in mass transit innovation and infrastructure. Now, America’s biggest cities have serious issues managing where to put all those individual cars—that’s why traffic and parking are always so frustrating in LA or in any big American city.


Sometimes, though, I tell them that America missed the train and now we’re so far behind we can’t even run to catch the bus. Truly, as their American English teacher, I’m always a little embarrassed to explain why this great nation has such sucky public transit. But Nikolas, from Switzerland, insists it’s really because America’s favorite pastime is waiting. He says, “I don’t understand. If I drive, I wait on the freeway. If I take the bus, I wait. Disneyland, Six Flags, Hollywood clubs, the same. Don’t get me started on the Dodgers and baseball…” Nikolas concludes, “You Americans must really like waiting around.”


Hmmm. Maybe. Conspiracy theorist friends, any input?


fix a flat

fix a flat

Yeah, so traffic. I do it every day, whether by bike or car, for at least an hour. I prefer biking, though, and have discovered I can get places faster that way, especially during morning/evening rush hours. But, I do drive more often than I’d like, and therein lies the philosophical dilemma: how to make peace with having to do something that’s not really very enjoyable? It’s part of the price we pay to live in this amazing city—reconciling our lives, dreams, and careers with the tedious reality of LA traffic.


You must make peace

You have to make peace with the fact that living ten miles from your job easily translates into a one-hour, one-way commute. Obviously, living closer to your job would alleviate drive time stress, but the better-paying jobs are on the Westside while more affordable, artist-friendly housing is in Echo Park, Lincoln Heights, East Hollywood, Silverlake-ish.


When I lived at the international house, I commuted from East Hollywood to Westwood, ten miles there, ten miles back. Sitting in the car creeping along for an hour in morning traffic really, really sucked, so I began biking. But not everyday—that’d just be too much. Here’s how I made peace when I did the

What Ms. Davis said

What Ms. Davis said

stop and slow: Sing along with 100.3 The Sound, roll down the windows and rock out. Or some mornings listen along with 102.7, Ryan Seacrest and Ellen K. What? No, really. They’re sharp and funny, and I like listening to Ryan and Ellen banter on about celebrity gossip. Or talk about Ryan and his dog. And Richard Marks. Don’t judge. Listen for yourself. Here’s the thing: being mad, angry, and cranky—horn honking, finger flipping, screaming—and sitting in

traffic doesn’t work for anyone. You gotta get over it. And as I’ve embraced this, I’ve found that there really are a lot of courteous drivers, as if the collective commuter unconscious knows this sucks for everybody, so we might as well make the best of it and be kind. Patient. And not flip out.


In all this driving, biking, traffic-doing, I have noticed a few wonky things about our fair city that really would make most drivers in other areas lose it. Here are a few tips and observations:


Avoid the freeways

Mornings and evenings the 405 and 10 are parking lots. Forget ‘em. Instead, figure out surface streets that can get you where you need to be. True story—I have a route from East Hollywood to Culver City that can take under forty-five minutes in rush hour traffic.




Parking check

We all do this, park in a space that’s really close to a red curb or driveway, or maybe we’re not sure if it’s permit-only parking. So, we leave the car running, get out, check the signs and make sure we’re not in the red, not blocking someone’s drive. Definitely make sure it’s not street sweeping day because the penalties are steep–$63 if you’re not permitted properly and $73 if you’re parked during street sweeping. Ouch. I’m more than OCD about this. As are most LA drivers. Parking check, necessary ritual.


Lane position is everything

There’s a less-impacted route I drive to work, but to do it effectively, you’ve gotta know the lane structure. For example, to maximize efficiency, you must be in the center lane for part of the commute and then know when exactly to get in the right lane because the center lane turns into the left turn lane at an intersection without a left turn arrow. Timing is everything. You can be stuck fifteen cars deep if you don’t change lanes at the right moment. Then, to get onto Westwood, you’ve got to get back over to the left lane and continue with a few more center/right lane changes for optimal forward motion. *Actually, the bike is much better for this route 🙂


Why do so many LA intersections lack a dedicated left turn arrow?



This mystifies me. Even some of the larger intersections don’t have a left arrow—WHY? A few days ago I sat, patiently of course, at Centinella and Venice for seven minutes to make a left onto Venice. Without a left light, cars end up turning as the light changes from yellow to red, so that left-turning cars remain in the intersection when the light turns green for the cross traffic. At peak times, this creates a huge traffic flow problem—cars stuck in the intersection trying to complete a turn. Why not add the left turn arrow to all the intersections?

Shitty Los Angeles city streets

Really, I’ve ridden and driven on a lot of streets—Hollywood, Silverlake, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Miracle Mile, and all over Westwood, Venice, and Santa Monica. The roads on the Westside are slightly better maintained (more affluence on that side), but they’re still not great, and the roads in Hollywood, Silverlake, east side-ish are really torn up and a peril to ride on. Where does all the revenue from parking violations go? Clearly, it’s not into road maintenance or street repair…


Well, there ya go, a 10 month intensive study of LA traffic. It’s frustrating but manageable, and if you let it, negotiating LA traffic can teach some humbling, very Buddhist life lessons. Patience, perspective, kindness, tolerance and peace.

Come ride with me.


Yup :)

Yup 🙂


Wednesday, October 15, 8p, Bar Lubitsch, West Hollywood, $8 tix

Sunday, October 19, 10:30 am, Sunday Assembly Los AngelesProfessional Musicians Local, 90038

Sunday, October 26, 3:00 pm, Prospect Theater, Modesto

Friday, November 28, 8:00pm, Plough and Stars, San Francisco

Josephine Johnson

Josephine Johnson


Well, goodness, it’s been a while since I’ve made a substantive post. You know, something more than ‘hey, I’m playing here, come



see me’ kind of thing. In the past four months, though, it’s all I’ve had time to communicate, but there’s so much more. Mostly, I’ve been living and working my tail off in the big city and taking great aims to do so as kindly and justly as possible. Each day seems a marathon, some peppered with starts and sprints, others completely hung up in the blocks. Sleep each night a welcomed retreat, necessary, sometimes the only reprieve. I’ve lived in Los Angeles nearly 10 months and have scarecely had a moment to reflect on what it’s like for a small-town girl to strike upon the big city all by herself. What it’s like avoiding scams, paying rent, making friends, and surviving SoCal traffic. Each of these could have their own supporting mini-thesis. For reals. But I won’t do that to you…

’bout this instead:

anemone & seahorse

anemone & seahorse

Good stuff comes from Gratitude. And getting up early.

Some of you know, I teach English to second language learners during the day, and I’ve regularly been doing an activity with my

mad docs in da house

mad docs in da house

students (thanks, Alene Webb, for the inspiration). At the end of each class, I ask them to write three things, different every day, they are grateful for and three things they are good at.

Example: I am grateful for cooler temperatures in Los Angeles. I am grateful to be able to write and sing. I am grateful for kind people and friends. I am good at encouraging people. I am good at playing ukulele. I am good at soldiering on.

We speak about these things briefly, and I focus on how being grateful for the wonderful things in life can bring more positivity and self-satisfaction, that positivity—essentially believing in yourself—and goal setting are connected. Many of my students go

more crazy

more crazy

on to study at American colleges, so I like to think this exercise helps train them to have more power over their minds and more power over the outcomes in their lives. It makes them think. It makes them share. And it makes them think about life beyond our classroom.

I am grateful for kind people and friends. This is a biggie. When I came to Los Angeles, I left a community that



had known me for nearly ten years. I have a lot of friends in Humboldt County who genuinely support and believe in me and I cherish that beyond words. Yeah, moving to a new place without a solid network in place—I knew two people when I landed in Los Angeles—was a huge leap, much bigger than I realized. I am so very grateful for all of my Humboldt friends who have been cheering me on from behind the Redwood curtain. I don’t express this often enough, but THANK YOU, NorCal! I feel you rooting

lisa dee & Juli

lisa dee & Juli

for me and it makes my heart glow. Like E.T. and Reese’s Pieces 🙂 Thanks for all the love, I feel it everyday.

I’ve also met some keen folks in Los Angeles, and I’m grateful for my new circle of friends. Like Susann, who makes the best

dancers dancing

dancers dancing

vegetarian-friendly jerk sauces this side of Jamaica. I’ve been helping her with a few Los Angeles farmer’s markets—my fave is the Hollywood market. It’s a blast. And then there’re the Evangenitals and Juli Crocket. For goodness sakes, this crew. I just love ’em. Kind, intelligent, driven, inspired. And nerdy. 🙂 Back in February I got to be part of their Turbulent Flow video. Have you seen it? Check this out—I’m the pink sea anemone.

It’s a hoot, huh? These are super fun people and I’m thankful we all got introduced. Turbulent Flow is a single from the Evangenital’s 2014 release Moby Dick, which is about, you guessed it, that 10th-grade-rite-of-passage novel, Moby Dick. The pics in this post are from the shoot—oh man, so much fun. I could do that every day…

juli, Lisa dee & balloons

juli, lisa dee & balloons

Juli was also the one who told me about Kulak’s in North Hollywood, that folks were super friendly there. And that they film performances with multiple cameras and edit it all together. So I did that, went and played, and had a blast. I’d say the folks at Kulak’s Woodshed are Humboldt-types—Americana-y, indie-arty, hippie-peace-freak-like. Heck, Jeff DeMark, a Humboldt County icon was there in 2006. Check this link and you’ll see him backed by uke duo the Tiny Tims. I went on a Monday, early to get a slot, and took in the kitschy DIY, yet refined, atmosphere. There’s a group of regulars who are part of the backing band, and the first 10 solo artists can work with the band to back them up for the recording. Optional, not mandatory. It works. And it’s pretty fun. Next time, the band and I will get something going on. Below is my video. Good times!

sea horse & anenome

sea horse & anemone

Well, friends, thank you for the love, support, and kind words. I am very grateful to have so many kind people in my life. I am thankful for my friends and family, and I send love and peace to you. Now, go, get out there and do great things, be thankful for them and acknowledge when you do them well. 🙂 DO IT!


Turbulent Flow Fin

the brains Michael & Juli

the brains Michael & Juli

for reals fin big finish

for reals fin big finish

Well, what can I say? I’m bitten.


Yeah, the road bug got me. Travel, music, meeting new people and learning about their lives, catching up (kinda) with friends, letting them know I’m alive and thriving in Los Angeles. That I can do this.


Let It All Out Summer 2014 Tour pretty much ROCKED.

And I’m ready to do it again.

But that’ll have to wait, though, a month or two, and then *shazam* I’ll be back on the road!


In the meantime here’re some nice gigs upcoming in the Los Angeles area. The flyer says it all 🙂 See ya out there.

Come find me!

Where Josephine will be in August 2014