Johnsons Song Selection Evolution, Old Set Lists & A Little History

A History Lesson: The Johnson's first performance (June 1998) was for a family wedding. In fact, we simply intended to reguratate a bunch of songs from our previous band, "The Switch" (circa '91-'93). To highlight the reality of the situation, it had been 5 years since The Switch ended--so long that a couple of us actually had to buy new instruments to play the wedding. The Switch, for all practical purposes, was suppose to be our last band...yeah, right.

At that point, the wedding gig was suppose to be a one-time situation. The name "The Johnsons" wasn't even conceived or discussed since continuing playing as a band wasn't either. So, at this point we were not a band, we didn't have a name... or focus... or direction... or...

Here are the Set Lists from that first "wedding" show. Check out these songs!! (circa 06/98)


History Part B: After a huge success at the wedding, the band decided to legitimize and give the Southeastern entertainment scene another go. Now called "The Johnsons," the band had to decide what direction to go. At the time, the 80's were coming back in a big way following the big disco resurgance of the mid-90's, so we focused soley on 80's classics.

One big challenge for the band was that 80's music relied heavily on keyboards--in case you haven't noticed, The Johnsons does not have a keyboard player. We networked and found some excellent musicians out there to help us solve the problem. We've implemented "sequencing" to cover all of the necessary keyboard parts. Sequencing takes time and money so progress on "new" songs was slow but steady.

One other key component leading up to The Johnson's first public show was the band signing with Wisconsin's premier booking agency: The Entertainment Company. Shortly after signing, TEC booked The Johnson's first public show at Illusions in Franklin on Hwy 100 & Hwy 36.

So what's the point? This all brings us to these first "public" show set lists. It's interesting to compare these set lists to the first show as well as with one of today's shows...


The Day Wisconsin Discovered The Johnsons: Even though the band was playing regularly for about a year and a half, including a Summerfest 1999 appearance on The Miller Oasis Stage, the 2000 Summerfest show was the day everything went through the roof.

The Johnsons played The Miller Oasis Stage on the final Sunday of the event from 3-6pm. It was incredibly packed for a 3pm show, in fact, from our viewpoint on stage, you could not see pavement in any direction, just heads and bodies...amazing. The place was rockin' so much that all three major Milwuakee TV stations used footage of us in their 6 & 10pm newscasts and at least one Madison station did the same.

The Johnsons have played Summerfest since and will play there again but 2000 will always stick out because of the excitement it generated: Web hits were at an all-time high that day and the following day and 100's of people signed-up for the mailing list. People STILL approach us about that show stating that it was the one that hooked them.

Now, many of you remember this show, but do you remember what we played? Take a look.


Not Your Father's Johnsons: After our 4th Annual Holiday Party with The LoveMonkeys in December 2003, The Johnsons went on sabbatical with the intention of tipping-over the apple cart a little bit. This is where the new look, the new sound and the substantially-changed playlist kicked-in.

But just like prom, you'll never forget the "a-typical" Johnson's set lists of 2002 & 2003. Here's December 2003, right before the sabbatical.




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