Johan Eliasson’s not yet famous, but his train has arrived at blues junction! He got off at the station and is waiting to be let in. Open the damned door and get him a seat at the table. The blues from Sweden is here and it ain’t going back.
Perhaps as if to prove the very essence of what this web directory of the acoustic blues is fundamentally about, Johan Eliasson, aka Bottleneck John, is the real deal, playing deep roots, hard-sliding, hard-core, country blues. The blues has traveled far and become an international genre, with devotees and exceptionally awesome players all over the world. This fellow here is as good as it gets. If you listen to his blues without preconceptions, it becomes quickly evident that Elisasson is one of today’s great, albeit unlikely, practitioners of the genre. As many blues musicians from the non-English speaking world have learned, there often is a bit of prejudice to overcome. Somehow, it is easier for people to accept UK blues musicians than those from the continent. Here is a professorial looking white Swedish musician with soul who seems as far removed from the authentic blues experience as it gets, yet he’s got it all going the right way. Perhaps he took the almost farcical stage name of Bottleneck John, as to overcompensate and fit a bit closer into the mysterious blues world, so distant from Sweden. If you believe that musicianship depends on nationality, or that feeling blues music in your soul requires a certain skin pigmentation, Bottleneck John will be an easy target. If, on the other hand, you are open minded to the idea that the blues has set people all over the world on fire, it is undeniable that good music is everywhere, including in this case in Scandinavia, where there is a strong blues scene. And once they get that burning feeling, they are gonna play it and play it well. That requires no apology.
As the name ‘Bottleneck John’ implies, Eliasson’s claim to fame is his fiery slide playing. When it comes to that, he’s a hot licks virtuoso, perhaps on of the top in Europe, and that is saying alot. This Swede can really play the slide guitar! He sings with a rich, soulful deep tenor, and has a propensity for the deep-blues in the traditional realm. This guy has the true-hearted blues!
He just released a fine new CD, aptly named “Northern Heart, Southern Soul” with some very capable Swedish sidemen. Eliasson plays 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars, a resonator, banjo and mandolin on the album. Country blues aficionados will have much to celebrate and Elisasson has made his mark as one of today’s most poignant voices in the genre. The blues suffers from too much repetition and reworks of traditional material, so it is refreshing to see Eliasson write his own material. It may have been wise to boost sales by including a few well-known classics for the comfort of familiarity, but Eliasson seems little interested in marketing. It’s all good, an excellent album, fun and light-hearted, with an easy-going spirit
Eliasson needs to get showcased in the US blues festivals and to get name wider recognition. In the meantime, definitely put Bottleneck John on your list and check him out!