HOW IT ALL STARTED…
Originally named Roughshod Records and Tapes, the label was formed in June 1987 by Mike Johnson, singer, songwriter, and yodeler. While there have been other Black yodelers, it is Mike's versatility in combining the Jimmie Rodgers, Cowboy, and Swiss yodeling styles that earned him the indisputable title of Country Music’s No.1 Black Yodeler. One of Mike's notable yodeling friends is McDonald Craig, a Korean War Veteran from Linden, Tennessee, who is also the only Black yodeler to ever enter and win the Jimmie Rodgers Yodeling Championship, held annually by the Jimmie Rodgers Museum in Meridian, Mississippi, beating out 72 contestants in 1978!
Incidentally, the name “Roughshod” came from a negative magazine review of Mike’s 2nd 45rpm, “Hooked on Rodeo” & “I Hear Her Words Ringin’,” recorded and mixed at Jim Stanton’s Champ Studio and released around 1985. The reviewer called it a sloppy, roughshod mix down that was a waste of money. Hmm, Stanton had a well established reputation as one of Nashville’s best studio engineers? It turned out that the reviewer was a rival label owner who made the rounds to different studios to see who was recording, write negative reviews on them and then try to entice them to his pay-as-you go label. It was Jim Stanton who showed Mike the review, but unfortunately he didn’t keep a copy of it. Mike didn’t take the bait either, but he did like the ring in “Roughshod” and decided to use it. Several years later that same fella reviewed those same songs when they appeared on Mike’s 1996 Cassette Album “I Believe in Roy Rogers [RC089601] and touted them as being a couple of the best country songs he’d heard in years! Hmm...
Mike wrote his first song in 1957 and he has since written over 1200 songs, including over 150 yodeling songs. In April 2007, the Library of Congress “Mike Johnson collection” began with Library of Congress Specialist Janet McKee's the acquisition of 114 of his yodeling songs, and related music material, for their Recorded Sound Reference Center’s permanent music collection. They also have several Mike Johnson songbooks in their Performing Arts Reading Room collection and 16 Special Edition DVDs of some of Mike’s performances in Maryland, Michigan, New York City, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia in their Motion Picture & Television Broadcasting and Sound Division collection. We’re hard at work editing about 20 years worth of video performances to add to that collection.
In January 2013 Specialist Patricia Baughman of the Library’s Performing Arts Reading Room acquired his December 2013 published “I Just Wanted To Be A Songwriter, a Mike Johnson Music Anthology” a 390-page visual presentation of nearly everything from 1980 to December 2012 that has ever been printed, published, produced, and distributed about, and by, Mike Johnson and his music. The volume also displays his CD Single, RCD41 “Livin’ Lost Love on the Jukebox Again - The Heartaches Are Callin” James Adelsberger’s CD Single, RCD42 “Back Home Again - The Holy River” and one page of his yodeling profile in Bart Plantenga’s December 2012 "Yodel In HiFi" a follow-up book on the global origins and history of yodeling.
On 18 December 2014, Mike and James' presentation of the label's 49th and 50th CDs to Janet McKee was also VIDEO TAPED! On 13 August 2016 the label released its 51st & 52nd CDs, Mike Johnson's "Let Me Die In a Honky Tonk" and James Adelsberger's "My Heart Still Sees." And on 29 August 2016, at the 41st Old Time Country Music Festival in LeMars, Iowa, Mike Johnson was presented the 2016 "Lifetime Achievement" Award and James Adelsberger, the 2016 "Instrumental CD of the Year" Award for his album "Country Sounds" by Bob Everhart, president of the National Traditional Country Music Association. [a video of that presentation is on our Home Page]
Mike Johnson was born in June 1946 and spent his youth drawing pictures, writing stories, and involved in a lot of camping, fishing and related outdoor activities with the Boy Scouts and summer camps. He was also an Altar Boy, achieved the rank Eagle Scout in 1960 and graduated from Catholic grade (1961) and high (1965) schools. In September 1965 he joined the US Navy and served two Vietnam tours aboard the USS Constellation CVA-64 from 1967 to 1969. Several jobs later, including Motorcycle Courier for Mar-Sids' Courier Service and Driving Instructor for Easy Method Driving School he became a long distance trucker in 1981.
When he began performing in the mid-1960s he was just hanging out and having fun. It would not be until the mid to late 1970s before he’d entertain the possibility of seriously pursuing music. And when he did, he just wanted to be a songwriter! He began searching and subscribing to some of the music trades, one of them Music City News, and read everything he could on how to get his songs published and produced. Early on he noticed that some of them wanted money. Hmm. So he made some phone calls to different Nashville establishments and found out that most of those were subsidy labels that the main-stream industry labeled “song sharks.” They mostly took one’s money, regardless of talent or lack of, and rarely delivered anything of substance. Lesson one. Mike regrouped and finally found “legitimate” resources and began sending out demos. Locally he found Lion-fox Studio in Washington DC and Omega Studio in Kensington, Maryland. He settled for Omega and worked up 5 five songs on a tape and delivered it to them to cut an acetate demo. He liked what he heard, and at the urging of some enthusiastic friends, he started setting his sights on Nashville. He searched for about a year and found Globe Studio to his liking. After some correspondence and phone calls with Jim Maxwell, the owner, he sent his ballad “Old House on the River” and a week or two later he received an acetate disc with the vocals by Ronnie Lane. Impressed with what he heard he decided that Nashville would be a go!
On 14 April 1981 Mike packed up his 1969 Chevy C10 pick-up and headed to Nashville for his very first recording session at Jim Maxwell's Globe Recording Studio, then at 1313 Dickerson Road. Mike had requested four musicians and Maxwell hired some extremely talented session players; Tommy Floyd (Lead Guitar) Jack Ubanks (Bass) Benny Kennerson (Piano) and Bob Dean (Drums). On 16 April 1981 he recorded five songs in one hour and the musicians were so impressed at how prepared he was that they took him out to lunch! Mike hung around while Jim showed him how a studio operated and he got to watch Jim prepare the pressing plates for his 45rpm.
On 16 May 1981, Mike Johnson's first commercial release, "King of the Fish" on Side-1, and "Please Don't Squeeze the Charmin" on Side-2, [M001] was released under his MAJJ Productions. This was actually a publishing outlet that Mike had originally created around 1973 for his literary and art works. Record Row Review, WSVT-710AM was the first station to air the new release and Lawrence Record Shop on Broadway, still under the helm of founder, Jack Lawrence Sr. and his wife Ida, was the first retailer to stock it. Thereafter Mike became a Nashville regular throughout the 1980s and could be seen hanging out with John & Lois Shepherd, Ronnie Root [Nashville’s Hank Williams impersonator] Tommy Boyles, Jack “Pop” Stoneman, Owen McCarthy, Cowboy Clifford [Nashville’s songwriting photographer], and Robert Moore, future owner of Robert’s Western World, a couple of doors down from Tootsie’s. He performed in nearly every bar on Lower Broadway, Millie & Al's, The Merchant's, Tootsie's, The Rhinestone Cowboy, Squire’s Music City Lounge, Ernest Tubb's Midnight Jamboree, and Norma Bogle’s Dusty Road on Woodland Street, just across the Cumberland River from downtown, to mention a select few.
The summer saw Mike busy landing a number of local consignments for his new release and he learned a valuable lesson in the process. Turns out some of them were giving his product away and claiming they had been stolen. Mike pulled all of his product and created a Consignment Agreement which contained not only a quantity accounting by title and number, but also a liability clause to prevent that from happening again. To this day, if a retailer doesn't sign the agreement, they get not product. "No tickee, no laundry."
In September of 1981 Mike hired on as a long distance trucker with Newlon’s Transfer, a family owned 48-state motor carrier based in Arlington, Virginia. The Newlons were country music fans, and Liz Newlon, Mike’s chief fan was Lizzie, the wife of owner Harry Earl Newlon, and she made sure that her son, Butch, the company’s Operations Officer routed as many of Mike’s runs as he could to places where Mike could play his music! Little did Mike know that trucking would play a major role in establishing him on the Independent Country Music Circuit!
Sometime in 1983, and still not able to get back into the studio because of his busy trucking schedule, Mike whipped up a home-studio release “Mike Johnson’s Guitar Songs Vol.1” [MA001] a 17-song cassette featuring just him and his guitar. It sold surprisingly well via mail-order and at gigs and satisfied his growing fan base for awhile. Jim Maxwell also moved his studio just north of Nashville to Whitehouse, Tennessee in 1983, and knowing that Mike wished to remain in Music City, he sent him over to his longtime friend, Jim Stanton, founder and owner of Rich-R-Tone Records, then at 1705 Church Street, just outside of downtown Nashville. Several years later Mike lost all contact with Maxwell, and only recently found him in June 2013 through the help of a friend, alive and well in Cottontown, Tennessee. They talked for a couple of hours!
It was at Champ Studio that Mike's music business education began, as Jim took the fledgling under his wing and taught him how the industry and the Nashville clique worked, or was supposed to work. While he learned some valuable things about publishing, recording, producing, contracts, licensing and song rights etc., but the most valuable thing came from some very blunt advice that Jim gave him about the current -1980s- Nashville mindset. He told Mike to continue pitching his songs on Music Row but not to waste too much time pounding the pavement because Nashville wasn't “looking for another Charley Pride. They’re still mad at Chet Atkins and Cowboy Jack Clement over that!” Jim told him that since he was already publishing his own songs he should start his own record label and produce himself. This was also at a time when Stanton and other small independents were slowly being squeezed out of the business by Japanese investors buying up publishing companies and record labels. A long distance trucker since September 1981 Mike had no intention of giving up his day job.
Back into Champ studio again his 2nd 45rpm “Hooked on Rodeo” & “I Hear Her Words Ringin’” [S068601] was finally released in June 1986 under his Pata del Lobo Music publishing banner. He also took Jim's advice and formed Roughshod Records, created the boot logo, and also formed You and Me Music publishing, and You and Me Records for his gospel and non-country songs. However, all of his songs would be produced and released by Roughshod Records and none on the You and Me Records label.
In between trucking trips he did a total of four recording sessions at Champ studio before Jim's untimely death in 1989. The 13-song Cassette "Black Yodel No.1 the Song the Songwriter" [C118601] released on 13 November 1986 marked the beginning of broader distribution beyond Mike's local consignment area when it was placed for sale in the Union 76 Truck Stop in Montgomery, Alabama; the first of about a dozen truck stops nation-wide. The following year on 13 June 1987 the 6-song Cassette "Did You Hug Your Mother Today" [C068701] was released.
Having seen scores of artists still pounding the Nashville streets over the past 40 years trying to be “discovered” Mike truly realized just how valuable Jim's advice was! He had wasted no time and he got his music out there! It should also be noted that even though some of Mike’s songs have appeared on several CD compilations, that he has never recorded for, or been signed to, any label but his own Roughshod Records.
Mike took a break from performing after Jim's death and because his trucking job had become extremely busy. While he still pitched some of his songs to publishers and labels, he went on a songwriting spree and re-entered the Independent Country Music scene with over 500 new songs and in September 1993 Roughshod Records first release, "Black Yodel No.1, the Song, the Songwriter" a Cassette Album [RCD099301] hit the streets.
In April 1994, Mike’s song “Did You Hug Your Mother Today?” propelled him and Roughshod Records to international recognition. On the advice of a music friend he sent a copy of his newly released Cassette Single, “Did You Hug Your Mother Today?” & “Little Boys and Doggies” [RCS049401] to big John Baldry’s Michigan Jamboree Radio Show WBYW 89.9FM, broadcasting out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. He immediately received a phone call and a post card from a very excited Big John Baldry telling him how much he and his listeners loved the song! However, Big John noted that he was going to have to limit the song to two spins a program because every time he played it he’d get flooded with phone requests wanting him to play it again! The song aired for 3-weeks surrounding Mother’s Day 1994 and Mike thought that was rather impressive for a 7-minute song.
Big John was a steadfast supporter of Independent Country artists and he sent Mike an invitation to attend the First Annual All Independent Country Music Michigan Jamboree that was being held in June 1994 at the Sugarbush Campground in Hillsdale Michigan, where Mike and his rig [also became a celebrity] received a rousing welcome, and his own escort! He and Mike Preston of Limington, Maine did an encore yodeling performance of Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya” [which is not a yodeling song] and Mike met and became good friends with Terry Smith, songwriter of “Far Side Banks of Jordan.”
The word was out and soon Mike was receiving requests from DJs around the world. One of the oldest and still spinning his songs is Trudy Burke on her “Make Mine Country Show” in Victoria Australia. Some notable others were Cousin Ray’s WPWC-1480-AM in Virginia; Ed & Jolene Bullard’s KHKC 103.1-FM in Oklahoma; Alex Pijen’s 107.9FM in Holland; J.E. Pratos 106.8FM in France; Bente Kyed’s 105-FM in Denmark; Ron Miller’s 88.1FM in New Zealand; Rein Wortelboer’s 102.6FM in the Netherlands; Dan Hansen’s 90.6FM in Denmark; and Bart Plantenga’s “Wreck This Mess” 88.3 Radio Patapoe in Amsterdam. Over the years he’s accumulated a sizeable stack of radio playlists, a number of which are displayed in his “I Just Wanted To Be A Songwriter” music anthology.
Roughshod Records released 6 more cassettes between 1994 and 1996. Three Singles; “Just A Nobody” & “Always For You” [RCD089501], “Take Time Out don’t take it out on your Kid” & “Snakes Don’t Sleep On A Hot Rock” [RCS089502] and “As Long As There Is Music there’ll be Hank Williams Too” & “Black Yodel No.1” [RCS089503]. The albums “I Believe In Roy Rogers” [RC089601] and “Did You Hug Your Mother Today?” [RC089502] had been previously released by Pata del Lobo Music in 1986, and “Mike Johnson’s Guitar Songs Vol.1” [RC089603] was a re-release of the original 1983 MAJJ Productions cassette. By now Mike also had a number of Union 76 Truck Stops selling his 1986 "Black Yodel No.1" and 1987 "Did You Hug Your Mother Today?" cassette albums in their gift shops, the first of them being the Union 76 in Montgomery, Alabama.
During this time, press coverage on Mike and Roughshod Records from the smallest Country Music Newsletter to the Washington Post began pouring in. Hard Country Beat, Bluebird Country News, Songwriters Monthly, Entertainment News Country Western Corner, The Forum, Country Tradition, Rural Music News, Country Illustrated, Sharing & Caring, Tradition, Alabama Songwriters Guild, Country Plus, Manvel Opry Newsletter, The Alvin Advertiser, Country Note Connection, Artists & Writers Fellowship, Country Music Trails Less Traveled, to mention a select few. In January 1995 the Top-Rail Chatter Independent Country Music Magazine was created under the Roughshod Records banner and ran until December 2002.
In 1998 Mike was included in Nashville’s Award winning Journalist, Pamela E. Foster’s ground-breaking book “My Country, The African Diaspora’s Country Music Heritage” and her 2000 follow-up “My Country Too, the Other Black Music.” These definitive studies with detailed discographies showed that African-Americans were directly involved in various aspects of Country Music from the beginning and were not just mere influences as it is so often reported.
In 1999 Roughshod Records entered the CD world when it re-released the “Black Yodel No.1 the Song, the Songwriter” [RCD1-069901] and “Did You Hug Your Mother Today?” [RCD2-079901] Cassette Albums on CD in June and July 1999, respectively. Over 40 CDs would follow with a mixture of albums, singles, live, acoustic, and four CD samplers.
In early 2004 Mike was contacted by Bart Plantenga, DJ, author, and musicologist in the Netherlands, expressing his dismay at not knowing about him sooner so that he could have been included in his recently released  book, “Yodel-Ay-Ee-Oooo, the Secret History of Yodeling Around the World.” They immediately struck up an email friendship and exchanged notes on the different yodelers they knew. Bart was in the process of writing a follow-up and also wanted to lease the master track of his song “Yeah I’m a Cowboy” on a yodeling compilation he was working on. In September 2006 the “Rough Guide to Yodel” CD was released by the World Music Network in London, England, featuring the yodeling songs of 18 different yodelers, including Mike’s friend, Janet McBride, the Yodeling Queen, the Yodeling Blonde Bombshell, Carolina Cotton, and Kenny Roberts. In May 2005 Mike went to New York City to participate in one of Bart’s yodeling book lectures at the Bowery Poetry Club, where he and yodelers Randy Erwin and Lynn Book treated the audience to their different yodeling styles and sold a lot of CDs. Thereafter Mike became the subject of a number of Bart’s yodeling projects, including a 5-page, color spread in the March 2007 Issue (their first) of the Netherlands based De Player Magazine. Mike contributed a number of photos and information of other yodelers he’s known and was himself profiled on pages 30-31 in Bart’s follow-up book “Yodel In HiFi” published in December 2013.
Mike and the label were once again riding high until November 2003. He suffered a Cervical Spinal Cord Compression when three of his neck vertebrae [#3, #4, #5] collapsed on his spinal cord and came very close to paralyzing him. Fortunately he was loading his trailer and not driving because the attack caused him to collapse and pass out. He was treated at the Veteran’s Hospital in Washington DC during the month of December 2003 and underwent surgery at the Veteran’s Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland in January 2004.
During a two and a half year recovery period of learning to walk again without falling and regaining his hand and finger dexterity Mike also spent a lot of time trying to find new ways of revitalizing the label. He also hosted the Occoquan Coffee House open mic for his friend Brenda Weitzel who had been suddenly swamped with pressing family matters. Acoustic music had suddenly re-emerged as the in-thing and in response he produced “Mike Johnson Guitar Songs Vol.3 to Vol.7 between 2002 and 2008. His ultimate goal of a premiere yodeling album came with the August 2006 release of “Mike Johnson Yodeling 40 Years” [RCD22-080601] a 2-disc CD containing 50 of his yodeling songs, featuring a combination of studio performances, demos, and live performances! In 2009 he was well enough to travel again and lit out for the Old Time Country Music Festival in LeMars, Iowa, where he was very warmly received after his long absence. He returned in 2010 packing along his latest releases, in particular his 40th CD “Mike Johnson Live!” featuring a couple of performances at the Tucson Café  and Southwest Tavern  in Washington DC. But still that wasn’t enough. Once again he decided to try producing others and approached several local and out of town musicians with a production deal. But they were either too busy or not interested. And of course there were the usual pretentious few who typically jumped on everybody’s bandwagon and then bailed out when it was time to step up to the plate, complete with scripted feeble excuses. Undaunted, Mike continued working on his unfinished projects.
In early 2012 a new era and new life for Roughshod Records was about to begin when Mike met a very talented and exciting young musician name James Adelsberger. He began showing up at the Occoquan Coffee House open mic around February 2012 and immediately wowed everyone with his impressive guitar skills and his ability to easily adapt to everyone’s music styles. After a couple of months of jamming and some casual conversations, Mike asked him if he’d be interested in laying some tracks for some of his songs, for which he received and enthusiastic “yes!” Mike was very impressed at how James had captured the character of his songs, “Livin’ Lost Love on the Jukebox Again’ and “The Heartaches Are Callin’” the latter a yodeling song, and they were released on Mike’s CD Single in August 2012, the label’s 41st. CD [RCD41-S13082012].
We don’t always get what we want when we want it, but when Mike met James he sensed that his quest might finally get fulfilled. James’ music enthusiasm was overwhelming and Mike immediately felt and envisioned exciting new things happening for the label through this gifted musician. Mind you now, James was already a very busy musician as a percussionist and drummer in his high school's Orchestra and Marching Band, and already has a long impressive list of numerous music awards, as well as being a composer of Jazz and Classical music. Not to mention that he’s also a member of a couple of rock bands with some of his friends! A firm believer in the truth of that old saying, "you snooze, you lose" Mike asked him if he'd be interested in having his own CD and James accepted. All parties mutually satisfied after Mike explained what each of them were responsible for, and with the approval of his father, Mike brought James on-board the label in August 2012 and set the production and promotion wheels in motion. To test the music waters James’ first release would be a CD Single, Mike realizing that James’ voice would need a bit of work. He was an excellent musician, but not a singer, yet. After a couple of arduous months of demos with the two of them juggling numerous schedules and priorities, the production was completed and in November 2012 Roughshod Records released its 42nd CD, James Adelsberger's CD Single "Back Home Again" & "The Holy River" [RCD42-S14112012]. It’s available from CD Baby and its affiliates, as well as directly from Roughshod Records, Lawrence Record Shop in Nashville, Foxes Music in Falls Church, Va., CD Cellars in Falls Church and Arlington Va. and A1 Clarendon Valet, in Arlington, Virginia.
Songs from both CDs began receiving international radio airplay from DJs Cowboy Werner [Germany and the first to play James’ new CD] Julie & Dave Matheson [Australia] Trudy Burke [Australia] Kurt Gabriel [Austria] Noel Parry [Australia] Doc Schultz [Germany] Nicole Trudel [Canada] Bob Atkins [Australia] Pete Smith [England] Donald Burdick Jr. [Tennessee] and Patty Patrick [Austria] to mention a few. DJs Burke, Gabriel, and Parry are among a number of DJs that have been playing Mike’s songs since the 1990s. The very first station was Nashville’s Record Row Review by DJ Keith Bradford in 1981.
Sometime in April 2013 Mike made the talented multi-instrumentalist the label’s official Studio Engineer in charge of arranging, recording, and mixing. And on the 17th of May 2013 we received a letter from the Rural Roots Music Commission, sponsored by the 35-year old National Traditional Country Music Association in Anita Iowa, nominating James’ CD “Back Home Again” for their “New Artist Country Music CD of the Year” for 2013. You think that didn’t send the young’un into orbit! And once again when he was told that both his and Mike’s new CDs were also a part of the Library of Congress growing “Mike Johnson Collection.”
Mike worked up a short set list of songs for the young’un to learn, James added some of his favorites, and on 19 May 2013 James made his first appearance as a label artist and hawked some of his CDs at the Old Firestation #3 open mic in Fairfax, Virginia. The video footage from this performance was used by Cactus Moon Video to produce James’ first DVD!
After graduating in June, James, juggling two summer jobs, practiced with Mike every Saturday to sharpen up his vocals and they performed every Monday night at Kate’s Irish Pub in Springfield, Virginia. They also began working on their new 12-song albums after selecting some exciting songs from Pata del Lobo Music’s catalog. James finished arranging and mixing most the tracks, some of which includes his talented fiddling friend, Michael Romans. The rest of them will be completed during college breaks and the vocals will be added sometime over the winter or early 2014, with a projected release towards the summer. All I can say is that the music alone is a toe-tappin’ knee-slappin’ treat!
The first highlight of their end of the summer performances was their Sunday, 11 August 2013 Guest Performance on Mike’s long-time music friends’ Brenda Weitzel and Bert Huser Show at the Electric Palm in Woodbridge, Virginia from which sprang a second DVD featuring James and Mike. The second highlight was the young’uns wonderful solo performance the next night at Kate’s Irish Pub on 12 August 2013. The following Tuesday he left for his Freshman year at James Madison University on 20 August 2013, taking with him some of his CDs, promotional material, and his first official “James Adelsberger” poster.
On 13 November 2013, J.A. Music publishing was created for James and merged into the MAJJ Music Group. Initially, some of the songs James had created for his CD were slated for Mike's Pata del Lobo Music publishing, of which James was okay with. However, having vowed to teach his label-mate everything he knew, he informed James that since he also writes and composes, that he was actually his own publisher, and should therefore have total control of his own songs. He seemed a little puzzled, but when told that the main difference was that he'd like to keep all the publishing royalties instead of splitting 50/50 with Pata del Lobo Music, he once again knew that his mentor was looking out for him.
January 2014 started off with a crawl then quickly built up steam as the SideKicks re-grouped and began pouring some serious efforts into their new albums. First came some free CD samplers just to let our fan base and DJs know we were definitely up to something. Then came the serious song selecting, but no real themes as yet. Mike was never one for themes anyway. He just selects songs that he happens to like at the time and then goes for it.
James re-selected "Me and My Sad Self" for his project, a song he had selected for his Single back in 2012 which had proved to be a little too much for him. Then came two Pre-Release CDs, James' 12- song "Old Time Country Songs" and Mike's 8-song "Doggone It I've Written a Sad Song Again." Several of these songs would be replaced because James was busy tracking the ones Mike really wanted. Incidentally, these were supposed to be our 48th & 49th CDs, and a 12-song Instrumental by James was going to be our 50th. Well, things changed, and this time for the better... James announced that he was coming home to attend college locally!
From then on it was busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kickin' contest 'round here with the two of them practicing and polishing up their material. They only got to play out a couple of times, 'cause their main focus was on finishing their albums. In the interim, Pata del Lobo Music Publishing released a Sheet Music Folio of James performing Mike's "Anybody Here Love a Nut?" for which Mike provides back-up vocals on James' album.
On 15 November 2014, Roughshod Records released it's 49th and 50th CDs. RCD49, "Old Time Country Songs Are They Really Dead and Gone?" 13-songs featuring James Adelsberger. James wrote "Riversong" and co-wrote "Could Be the Whiskey Talkin'" with Mike, who kinda tricked him into that. Mike supplies back-up vocals on "Anybody Here Loves a Nut?" and back-up vocals and yodels on "Your Old Lady Strut."
RCD50, "Doggone It I've Written a Sad Song Again" 12 songs featuring Mike Johnson singing his favorite types of crying in your beer songs. A notable surprise is that instead of any yodeling songs, there's the bluesy "Pain! Pain! Pain!" on which Mike turned James loose to do the tracks anyway he wanted. James loves Jazz and Blues. James does a duet on Mike's Roger Miller style "Isn't Goofy Something At All?" and the beer drinking "Chug-a-Lug Another One."
And then there's the blue-grass flavored "Liquid Hell" with lyrics co-written by Mike's Boy Scout friend from the 1960s, Leo Maimone. Mike's "Guitar Pickin', Motorcycles, Hungry Women" loosely based on some to Mike motorcycle exploits. Except the dying part, lol.
On 16 November 2014, our SideKicks did a special CD discount performance to announce their new releases at the Coffee House of Occoquan, in Occoquan, Virginia.
Into American Music History again! On Thursday, 18 December 2014. Mike and James personally delivered and video taped the presentation of Roughshod Records 49th and 50th CDs to Specialist Janet McKee at the Library of Congress for inclusion in the Recorded Sound Reference Center’s ever expanding Mike Johnson Music Collection. The new releases were accompanied by two James Adelsberger portraits, one Mike & James portrait, and James’ 1st. Sheet Music Folio “Anybody Here Love a Nut?” as it was recorded for his new album “Old Time Country Songs Are They Really Dead and Gone?”
Also included was You and Me Records 1st. release, “SideKicks Christmas Special” a 2-song CD Single duet featuring two of Mike’s humorous Christmas songs, “Ho! Ho! Ho!” and “Put Out the Fire In the Fireplace!” released 4 December 2014. What makes this one so significant is that the label was formed by Mike Johnson back in June 1987 when he formed Roughshod Records and You and Me Publishing. Both You and Me’s were intended for his non-country songs. Though the publishing end did just that, those songs somehow always seemed to make it over to Roughshod Records with a country twist!
A big thank you to Janet McKee and an equally big thanks to Patricia Baughman who acquired several of Mike’s music books for the Library’s Music Reading. She’s retiring at the end of 2014 and we wish her all the best! And to Mary Wedgewood, in charge of the Library’s ISMN Division and helping us set up our ISMN [similar to ISBN] music publishing account. What a great way to end the year!
All of our hard work paid off. During the summer of 2015 James received a letter from the Rural Roots Music Commission designated him for an award for "Old Time Country Songs Are They Really Dead and Gone?" Having passed on a previous nomination in 2013, James was determined to get this one. Mike prepared some road tips and locations of area motels, and on 29 August 2015 James set out on his first solo cross-country trip to attend the 40th Annual Old Time Country Music Festival, held in LeMars, Iowa.
On 31 August 2015, during his Main Stage performance, Bob Everhart, president of the National Traditional Country Music Association presented an elated James Rural Roots Music Commission's "Pure Country CD of the Year" award with the enthusiastic approval of a very excited crowd. According to Bob, "James is a thunderbolt to traditional country music," and went on to say, "Everywhere he went he had followers and well-wishers. he's absolutely fantastic. My God Mike, you did a good job with this kid, congratulations from the bottom of my heart..."
In November 2015, our sister label You and Me Records released its second CD, "Country Sounds" a 12-track Instrumental featuring the musical talents of James and the tracks he laid for some of his and Mike's prior releases. Also included were two compositions written by James that he composed for a couple of Mike's videos.
On 19 December 2015, the kick-off gig at Joe's Place for the Roughshod Records SideKicks [Mike & James] Show turned out to be a surprise CD party for a totally surprised James for all of his releases to date! Every time Mike had tried to schedule one, someone or something interfered. He was determined not to let it happen again!
In January 2016, after getting confirmation from Ana, the owner of Joe's Place, they boys came up with a "Winter/Spring plan for a series of shows to be held every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month from February to May 2016. Each show would run from 6pm to 8pm and feature a special guest performer, and a Mystery Guest on the 7 May 2016 Show.
Joe's Place, a popular pizza shop in Woodbridge, Virginia had been hosting music for many years when it was a mile down the road on US 1 South. A new state highway construction plan to widen the road from Fort Belvoir south to Fredericksburg, Virginia forced a lot of commercial and residential tenants to relocate. Ana was fortunate enough to get the building vacated in the Gordon Plaza Shopping Center by the Bar "J" Chili Parlor, where she not only has an eatery side, but an adjoining bar. Mike had played at the old US 1 site off and on between trucking trips, and lost track of Joe's when it relocated. When he did join in on Ana, she was anxious to try and get some music going again.
Brenda Weitzel and Bert Huser kicked off the 1st show on 6 February 2016. Unfortunately, Mike was so excited getting things packed and ready that he left his camera bag sitting on his desk! About half-way though the show he remembered his pocket digital camera and managed to shoot him and James doing a couple of songs. That 15 minute footage was edited and placed on his YouTube Channel under the title of "I Forgot My Cameras!"
Our second show on 20 February 2016 featured Jeff Seidel and the Wallaboosie Brothers. This was followed up on 5 March 2016 by another of Mike's long time music friends, Bill Gibson, the Story Teller. 19 March 2016 featured Anthony James, absent his singing partner Maryann, who came down with a sudden illness. Bob Ellis, the Man with the Golden Voice, and the oldest of Mike's music friends [since 1979] performed on 2 April 2016 and Larry Rice of the Big Cheese Band, a fairly new music contact, performed on 16 April 2016.
A week following Larry Rice's performance, flyers and posters were sent out announcing James Adelsberger as the Mystery Guest for the 7 May 2016 show. James had had his suspicions about who that might be, and Mike told him that was a given when he started planning the shows. That it was time for him to step out of Mike's shadow and stand on his own as a singer. They spent several days a week practicing his set list, 5 of which had to be traditional country that was selected by Mike. The rest he could chose. And what a wonderful performance he gave, even including a couple of popular old standards, "Pennies From Heaven" and "It's Only a Paper Moon" to a very receptive gathering. He did us proud! Mike was beaming like a possum and we're happy to say that he no longer stands in Mike's shadow.
Following the SideKicks opening act on each show, they introduce the Special Guest Performer and take a short break to get them set up. On the 7 May 2016 show, a very proud Mike Johnson re-capped James' talents and label contributions and not only introduced him as the Special Guest Performer, but he thoroughly enjoyed the added pleasure of formally introducing James to a very enthusiastic gathering as the new co-owner of Roughshod Records!
The final Roughshod Records Show for the Winter/Spring season was on 21 May 2016, and it featured Tom Hawk the Yodeling Professor. Tom is a retired professor who lives in Frostburg, Maryland where he taught at the Frostburg, University. He had developed a passion for yodeling and had been practicing it in secret. He had been initially inspired by Taylor Ware, who yodeled her way to fame on America's Got Talent.
In October 2007 Tom Hawk purchased Mike's "Yodeling 40 Years" album, a 2-CD set of 50 yodeling song written by Mike Johnson and an email correspondence struck up between the two In May 2008 Tom made his first public appearance at the Frostburg University Coffee House Open Mic. Hungry for more he contacted Mike who was hosting an Open Mic at the Coffee House of Occoquan, while he was recovering from the cervical spinal cord compression that ended his trucking career. Retired from teaching, Tom made the 160 mile trek to Occoquan Virginia where he appeared as a special guest at the Occoquan Coffee House Open Mic to an enthusiastic crowd. Sometime in 2008 Tom released his 1st CD, a 12-song album titled "Yodeling Familiar Trails" and sent Mike an autographed copy. He even took time from his yodeling travels to visit and interview Mike in 2011.
We had a lot of fun with the Roughshod Records SideKicks Shows and our special guest performers and thank them for sharing their talents. We hope to be able to do it again in the near future.
Not letting the early part of 2016 slip away, Mike and James dug into their new releases and on 13 August 2016 Roughshod Records officially released its 51st and 52nd CDs!
RCD51 "Let Me Die In a Honky Tonk!" is a 14 song treat, featuring Mike Johnson singing the types of songs he grew up on, and writes. Johnson turned 70 in June 2016, and this release also demonstrates, he’s not ready to hang up his spurs. As usual he wrote all the songs and his label-mate & co-owner, James Adelsberger brought them to life, along with the assistance of his fantastic fiddling friend, Michael Romans.
Honky tonking with the title cut “Let Me Die In a Honky Tonk!” “Could You Spare Me a Quarter” and “I Will Hitch a Ride With Joe” to trucking and truck stops in “Break One-Nine!” and “Bertha” and good and bad love “Nuthin’ Honey” “How Come They All Know” and There’s Something In Between Us” and four yodeling songs in all, to make up for the lack of any on his last release. This release is classic Mike Johnson keepin’ the “country” in his music!
RCD52 “My Heart Still Sees is a 13 song wonder featuring James Adelsberger’s coming-of-age debut as an artist no longer in the shadow of his mentor. James applies his newly developed unique style to some very carefully self-selected songs and delivers them with warmth, emotion, and deliberation. From passion in “My Heart Still Sees” “Pictures On the Wall” “Another Lonely Night” and “Face Without a Name” to ballads like “Sittin’ In a Truck Stop Down In Georgia” “He Wrote the Song On the Jukebox” and “High Lonesome” [a yodeling song] and back-up choruses, James paints some very vivid pictures on the mind’s walls.
Though Mike Johnson initially wrote all of the songs, James wrote new music for four of them, explaining that he had some ideas he wanted to try out. Mike loved them and approved the new co-writes, especially “Here We Go Again” to which James not only wrote new music, but also added several verses, and a Bob Wills western swing touch! And once again we were fortunate enough to get Michael Romans to provide more of his fantastic fiddling. James, who turned 21 in March 2016, is living proof some young’uns do know a thing or two about traditional country music!
Towards noon, Sunday, Bob Everhart, president of the National Traditional Country Music Association, showed up to kick off the week-long 41st Annual Old Time Country Music Festival with a short speech and a prayer. The organization was started in 1976 with the express purpose of preserving America’s roots music; country, bluegrass, gospel, and folk. And he’s done just that with 10 different stages, attracting hundreds of musicians and fans from around the globe.
On Monday, 29 August 2016, at the 41st Annual Old Time Country Music Festival in LeMars, Iowa, in a ceremony on the Main Stage, officiated by Bob Everhart, president of the National Traditional Country Music Association, James Adelsberger was presented the Rural Roots Music Commission 2016 “Instrumental CD of the Year” Award, and Mike Johnson was presented the National Traditional Country Music Association 2016 “Lifetime Achievement” Award for his decades of traditional country music involvement.
Mike and James did over a dozen performances throughout the week, together, James solo, and James backing up a number of other acts who love his guitar picking. A big highlight for James was Mike getting his long-time friend Terry Smith to perform on stage with them. Terry is the songwriter of “Far Side Banks of Jordan” and James’ grandmother is his biggest fan. She was tickled to death to get photos and a video of James performing with Terry. Another highlight for James was Mike introducing him to Grand Ole Opry star, Claude Gray, and presenting him with our latest CDs. Claude received the National Traditional Country Music Association 2016 Living Legend award, and did a stand-up performance on the Main Stage. Also a member of the NTCMA Mike and Claude first met back when the festival was being held in Missouri Valley, Iowa, and kept in casual touch.
Though a number of his festival friends have passed on to Hillbilly Heaven, or could no longer travel, Mike was very pleased to re-connect with those who did show; Terry Smith, Bill Lear, Mary Nell Eidson, Marge & John Duttweiller, Fred Lawson, Larry Harms, Jackie Shewey, Francis Hahn, Kathy Dovel, Dale Eichor, Elaine Peacock, Gordon Wilcox, Ben Steneker, Harold Condray, Lee Muller, Rick & Harriett Andersen, to mention a select few. And James was equally excited to meet with the new friends he made in 2015 when he made a solo trip to the festival; Jacob Austin, Rod Brandt, Janine Sherry, Ed & Betty Rydell, and Red Johnson, to mention a few. And to all you new fans and friends they made, Mike and James say “It was a pleasure meeting you and we hope to see you again!”
After a very busy week of playing music and catch-up Mike and James checked out of their motel on Saturday morning, 3 September 2016 and headed over to the festival grounds to say their good-byes. They arrived home in Virginia on Sunday evening loaded with some gifts, lots of good memories, about 1500 photographs and about 20 hours of video footage. They had taken 2 guitars each, 3 cameras, and 2 camcorders.
Following the festival, Mike got real busy lining up new projects and catching up with old ones. He attended the 2017 Old Time Country Music Festival in LeMars where he was awarded a Legendary Honky Tonk CD of the Year Award by the Rural Roots Music Commission for Roughshod Records 54th CD "Let Me Die In a Honky Tonk" presented by Bob Everhart on the Main Stage. His old friend Bill Lear was with him [James couldn't make it] to back him on Bass during the performance to follow. Mike also was an M/C for several stages, and reunited with some old friends he hadn't seen in awhile. Stew Clayton, the Yodeling Farmer, came down from Canada. Greta Elkin, Ireland's Yodeling Queen returned, following the recent death of her husband. Elaine Peacock, a gospel great, and cancer survivor, returned, and Gordon Wilcox and Lydia, from Canada rounded things out. Gordon was one Mike's mom's favorite country singers.
Mike's old friends Terry Smith and Jackie Shewey provided some great entertainment, together and singularly. A big moment for Mike was again performing with Kathy Dovel, one of the two surviving members of the Wayne Longtin and the Sidetracks band. Mike met them at the 2009 festival and they had a blast performing on several stages. And again at the 2010 festival. Since then, Wayne Longtin, and Kathy's husband, Ed have passed on. Terry Durr is the other surviving member, but he was so busy backing others, that Kathy and Mike had to wing it together. They did however, get some help from Soundman, Dale Heeren on lead guitar. The following year, Mike would produce Dale's very first CD, featuring songs that Dale wrote. More on that later.
In 2018, Mike Johnson produced three CDs. In March he produced "They Call Me a Weekend Cowboy" for Dale Heeren on his Kitty Creek Records. During the Fall he produced "Long Way Home" for his long-time good friend, Rocky Guttmann. This collection of fine songs was originally released on Cassette Tape about 20-years ago, featuring Rocky and his duo buddy, Harry Pritchett. And on 13 December 2018 "SideKicks Antics" was released on our sister label, You and Me Records, featuring one song each by James Adelsberger and Mike Johnson.
Click our YouTube Channel [1000 videos - 6 October 2019] Link below to see Mike, James, and many other performers we've had the pleasure of knowing and, or, performing with over the years.
1 September 2002
31 August 2015
29 August 2016
29 August 2016
29 August 2017
7 January 2013 in the Library of Congress Performing Arts Reading Room, officials Patricia Baughman, Mary Wedgewood, and Janet McKee, accept the 1st. copy of "I Just Wanted To Be A Songwriter, a Mike Johnson Music Anthology" for their growing "Mike Johnson Collection."
16 April 1981 at Globe Recording Studio in Nashville. Benny Kennerson-Piano, Mike Johnson-Vocals, Tommy Floyd-Bass Guitar, Jack Ubanks-Lead Guitar, Bob Dean-Drums.
April 1981, Jim Maxwell, Globe Studio owner mixing Mike's tracks.
Globe Studio's 1/4 inch Mastering Deck.
Jim Maxwell grooving the acetate platter to make the pressing plates for Mike's 45rpm.
Mike's 1st. 45rpm "King of the Fish" on Side-1 and "Please Don't Squeeze the Charmin" on Side-2 released by MAJJ Productions in 1981.
This is the exact cover layout as the original 1983 MAJJ Productions release, which also came with a Lyric Book.
1985, Jim Stanton, founder of Rich-R-Tone Records in the back room of his Champ Recording Studio.
Mike's 2nd 45rpm, "Hooked on Rodeo" & "I Hear Her Words Ringin'" released in June 1986 by Pata del Lobo Music.
Roughshod Records 1st release, a Cassette album released in September 1993, would be followed by 4 Singles and 3 albums before entering the CD market in June 1999.
7 May 2005, Mike Johnson and Yodeler Randy Erwin with yodeling historian Bart Plantenga at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City.
Top-Rail Chatter Magazine
January 1995 to December 2002
James Adelsberger signs his Roughshod Records Recording Agreement.
19 May 2013 Mike & James at the Old Firestation #3 in Fairfax, Va.
Bernard Adelsberger co-signs son James' Roughshod Records recording agreement.
8 July 2013 Mike & James at Kate's Irish Pub in Springfield Va. get backup from Pam Ferguson on Fiddle and John Werntz on Bass.
Mike signs James' Recording Agreement official.
11 August 2013 Mike & James' guest performance at the Electric Palm in Woodbridge Va.
James Adelsberger, Roughshod Records Artist
18 December 2014, James preparing to enter Recorded Sound Reference Center.
18 December 2014, Mike & James with Janet McKee, Recorded Sound Reference Center Specialist.
18 December 2014, Mike preparing to enter Recorded Sound Reference Center.
James & Mike with Library of Congress Officials Patricia Baughman and Janet McKee. 18 December 2014.