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See Johnny perform with the legendary Nighthawks, or with his own band, the Thrillbillys.

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A Fresh Start

Hey, everyone! I know it’s been forever since I last updated this site. But that’s all changed now. My web guy (and awesome bassist) Lane Baldwin and I agreed my website needed something new. Here’s the begining of a new thing for me.

The Nighthawks started off 2010 with the departure, for health reasons, of longtime drummer and my longtime pal Pete Ragusa! He was replaced in the lineup by Mark Stutso, amazing vocalist and drummer, most recently with Jimmy Thackery and the Drivers for a mere 18 years. We did the usual nearly 200 gigs including two trips to Europe. We released an all acoustic set we did @ XM/Sirius studios, at the urging of Bill Wax himself. We decided to call it “Last Train To Bluesville” to honor the XM/Sirius blues channel. It was Pete’s last recording with the Nighthawks.

Meanwhile the Thrillbillys struggled to finish their second CD while holding down their Sunset Grille Thursdays and still playing in their various other bands. Invited to open for the Nighthawks at their annual State Theatre Thanksgiving show, I rushed to finish the post production of the Thrillbilly CD in time for the show. I made it, and it is called “Where There’s A Thrill, There’s A Way”, available on! Check our website for more info.

2011 started out on a sad note when we lost my beloved Mother-In-Law, Phyllis Grainger. She was a real pip, and loved to come to shows and rock out. She is sorely missed!

In early May, the Nighthawks were invited to perform at the Blues Foundation Awards Show in Memphis, TN. The band was nominated for Acoustic CD of the Year. I’m still as amazed as I was that night when the presenter said “and the winner is…The Nighthawks!” We each got a Blues Award, including Pete Ragusa, who was presented his by the ‘Hawks at the State Theatre show later in the year. Boy, the phone started ringing! We worked ourselves to a nub the remainder of the year, including some big Theatre shows doubling up with the Skip Castro Band at years end…great fun!!

Another sad note was to learn our ol’ pal Hubert Sumlin, whom we were trying to get on our newest recording for our new label, Severn Records, had passed away. We’d had a couple of gigs with him that he couldn’t make for health reasons, and just like that…gone! What a sweet Man! Always laughing and smiling. The CD had to be done without Hubert. Recorded live in studio at Severn Records in Annapolis, MD, we finished recording, dubbing and mixing in 2 weeks. The CD will be out this April and is called “Damn Good Time”!

2012 started with my getting a new right hip. I needed it and it’s done and doing well, and after 6 weeks of recovery/rehab I’m good to go and clocked to rock! Keep an eye on the Nighthawks schedule, and we’ll seeya out there!