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 youngster, he was initially drawn to the music coming from the radio and the jukebox in his granddad’s restaurant. From a handful of basic piano lessons as a youngster, he taught himself how to make chords and melodies to accompany the lyrics that he was writing. After attending a teen dance w/ a “live” band performing, he quickly picked-up the bass guitar. He knew what he wanted to do...Rock ‘n Roll.
But his real story begins later, in Nashville, Tennessee, where songwriters go to hone their craft. Gigging in the tiny clubs dotting West End Avenue, a word-of-mouth following got him invited to “pickin’ parties”, where he learned how to finger-pick a guitar and deliver a lyric. While making the rounds of song publishers up-and-down Music Row, Chimes had several of his own songs accepted at ATV/Sony. He toured the South for several years, earning a living as a sideman and learning the country music songbook. He got married and started a family.
At the urging of friends in the radio business, he left Tennessee and relocated to Madison, WI. He began touring as a solo act at college coffeehouses & concerts 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 that included his 17-year old son, Mose, and were one of the most popular acts on the Madison music club scene for nearly a decade. He continues to perform club dates and at regional blues festivals w/ members of his “tribe”. A locally-owned, New Orleans-themed eatery offered him a “house” gig playing his blues, jazz & boogie-woogie piano and Southern-style guitar. This long-standing residency has earned him a wider recognition across many age groups in both the Capital City and beyond.
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.