Johnny Chimes is a jambalaya of rolling Southern piano, finger-style guitar pickin’, and sweet soul-singing. He has performed thousands of gigs in his long and storied career. He is also a songwriter of considerable merit w/ several albums of his own words and music.
As a teenager, he was initially drawn to the music coming from both the radio and the family piano. From a handful of lessons, he taught himself the basics and began writing stories to sing along with the chords and melodies that he was creating. When he heard the sound of blues and boogie-woogie piano for the first time, he knew what he wanted to do.
His real story begins in Nashville, Tennessee. While gigging in the tiny clubs dotting West End Avenue, a word-of-mouth following got him asked to “pickin’ parties”, trading songs on any given night w/ Guy Clark, Dave Loggins, “England” Dan Seals or Marshall Chapman. In this up-close and informal, yet heady atmosphere, he learned to finger-pick a guitar and deliver a lyric. While making the rounds of song publishers up-and-down Music Row, Chimes’ own music eventually caught the ear of publisher Jonathan Stone, then at ATV/Sony, who signed his first song contracts, and remains a friend and trusted advisor.
From there, it was his choice to take the tools that he had acquired during his “Southern apprenticeship “ along w/ his love of performing, and relocate his home base to Madison, WI. He would begin touring as a solo act at college coffeehouses across the Midwest, largely handling his own bookings and management. Later, he led an acoustic-electric trio playing music that anticipated “Americana”. He’s the “founding father” of the Natch’l Blues Band—an eclectic jam band who literally “owned” Wednesday nights for eight-years on the Madison music club scene and he continues to perform w/ some of his “tribe”. A locally-owned, New Orleans-themed eatery offered him a gig playing blues, jazz & boogie-woogie piano. This longstanding residency has earned him a wider recognition across many age groups.
At heart, Chimes is a songwriter—seamlessly weaving his original compositions into a set along with his own unmistakable versions of blues & country music standards. The melodies he writes reach across musical genres. The lyrics speak to the sadness and beauty and sometimes, even humor, of where he’s been. He's got the retro cool vibe which not only makes the whiskey taste better, but also makes your troubles seem like one good blues song away from vanishing into the night.
One of Madison's best kept secrets, he entertains regularly at Louisianne's Restaurant and at various clubs and eateries in-and around the city, and he is a "lifetime invitee" to the Capital City's #1 Summer music event, La Fete du Marquette.