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Michael Johns goes back in time at Tin Roof Cantina

Michael Johns partied like it was 2002 at Tin Roof Cantina August 20, 2011. PHOTO CREDITS: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Michael Johns partied like it was 2002 at Tin Roof Cantina August 20, 2011. PHOTO CREDITS: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Michael Johns spent every weekend from 1998 to 2002 singing cover songs during the heyday of Buckhead Village nightlife as a regular at CJ’s Landing.

He’d croon for hours in front of the drunken 20-something hordes, learning hundreds of rock songs. He eventually left for Los Angeles in 2002 seeking rock star fame (and even then, he’d return to Atlanta regularly to do gigs.). He nabbed record deals but the records themselves fell through. In 2007, he tried out for “American Idol” and made it on the show season 7, finishing eighth.

Johns, an Australia native, still has plenty of friends in Atlanta and visits at least once a year. “It’s great to be home in Atlanta,” he told the crowd after starting his gig with Pearl Jam’s “Better Man” and Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer. “It’s insane!”

Johns took requests (though he demurred when someone asked for Matchbox 20. Thank you, Michael!). He brought back many of his old favorites circa 2002, which included many of 99X’s biggest hits from the 1990s. That meant covers of Sublime and Live. He sang homeland act INXS. He did a little Tom Petty, a bit of Violent Femmes. He even crooned an a capella version of “Dream On,” a song he did on “Idol.” And he sang a sexy “Happy Birthday” to a fan named Cindy.

He also gave copious credit to his friend Brian Witsey, who reunited with him and provided guitar back-up.

Johns was well known for playing Pearl Jam covers in Buckhead. So over the hour and 45 minutes I watched him, he sang six cuts from that band, from “Alive” to “Daughter.” He has an incredible memory for all these old songs. Only one flummoxed him while I was there: “Last Kiss.” “I haven’t sung that sing 2002!” he said. He needed Wiltsey’s help (and the audience, too) to get through the song.

Blaine Terry, one of his close friends from Atlanta who met Johns at CJ’s Landing, said in an interview Monday: “He enjoys it now more than he used to. It’s a chance for all his old friends to get together. He killed it Saturday.”

I was hoping to talk to Johns that night but he would not leave the stage and I had a tennis match the next morning. I was out by 12:15 a.m.

Terry said Johns ultimately stayed on stage for four straight hours, Springsteen style, like the old days. Yowza!

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27 comments Add your comment

Mercedes S.

August 22nd, 2011
9:13 am

What a nice report – thanks. Rodney!

JTesla

August 22nd, 2011
9:33 am

Thanks Rodney, Michael Johns is a great guy.

However, ummm yeah that first picture. Not sexy sexy. Or maybe it is, you tell me… ladies?

Mercedes S.

August 22nd, 2011
9:48 am

JT – maybe MJ should have brought a couple of extra T-shirts. As the night wore on, he might have liked tio change..

Rodney Ho

August 22nd, 2011
10:34 am

LOL! Well, it was hot in there! What’s a little sweat?

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

August 22nd, 2011
11:19 am

He’s a very attractive man, but that first picture makes it look like he joined Rodney for his tennis match! In any event, it’s really cool of him to come “home” and have a blast.

PS. Yes, I’m still alive! Life, you know, that thing we’re constantly being told we need, has made me a tad busier lately. But I should be around more this week. Because I know y’all really care! ;)

Mercedes S.

August 22nd, 2011
11:19 am

And how did YOU look, RoHo, after a couple hours in that sweat bath?! Hat must be soaked.

Mercedes S.

August 22nd, 2011
11:20 am

kcf! You have been missed!

Jane

August 22nd, 2011
11:27 am

Michael rocked the Tin Roof!!!! What a fabulous show and 4 hours of singing!! I love how he supports his friends and Brian and Blaine and another guy whose name i didn’t get were also very talented singing and playing guitar!! The place was singing along to tons of songs and he even did a bit of Adele when we said bye!! Wow what an evening!!

Sam-A

August 22nd, 2011
11:46 am

He’s plenty sexy for me! LOVE him! After Kelly, my fave Idol contestant ever (though I still think Clay is the second best singer and a great guy – just no sexiness there in the least)! Michael’s wife is one lucky lady.

Sam-A

August 22nd, 2011
12:13 pm

Dear K&CF: Please don’t find so much of a “life” that you’re not available to keep us posted on when Kelly’s new CD is available!

♥ kelly&carriefan ♥

August 22nd, 2011
12:47 pm

Sam-A, I’ll be sure to be around for that. And you can pre-order it from Amazon already. The current official release date is Oct 25th! :)

Sam-A

August 22nd, 2011
12:50 pm

Harriett

August 22nd, 2011
1:07 pm

Thanks, Rodney! That had to be so absolutely satisfying for Michael Johns. What a kick to be back among friends who want to hear him sing and having a grand ole time of it to boot.

Jane

August 22nd, 2011
1:13 pm

Forgot to mention that MJ’s friend Asha (sp?) also came up to the stage for a couple of songs and she was fantastic too!! What an exceptional night!!

[...] RSSMix.com Mix ID 1660970 [...]

Harriett

August 22nd, 2011
3:11 pm

Mercedes, I did finally see The Help on Saturday and was pleased. I had one thing that bothered me a bit, but not enough so it interfered with my enjoyment of the film. I missed the tenseness and sense of danger encountered by Skeeter as was evident in the book. It did not show her forays to Aibeleen’s house on darkened streets, with fear and trepidation as her companions. She seemed to come and go at will, without any viewers’ sense of how she got there. The danger was communicated but the fear not shown.

Neg Haleysox

August 22nd, 2011
3:13 pm

98.5 interviews Haley Reinhart, who tells us she may begin recording TODAY! http://t.co/yaAFucE

Neg Haleysox

August 22nd, 2011
3:17 pm

Huffington Post spotlights Haley Reinhart as one of their Top 15 music artists on the rise. No other Idols make the list. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/16/new-artsits-to-know-music_n_927725.html?ref=tw#s330454&title=Haley_Reinhart_

Woodpappy

August 22nd, 2011
3:54 pm

Hope she does well Neg ! Thanks for the update.

Harriett

August 22nd, 2011
3:56 pm

Yay, Haley! I am pulling for her!

Harriett

August 22nd, 2011
3:58 pm

Time to go. Take care and see you tomorrow. D, if you peek in, I hope you are having a good time. By the way, Nana is in Florida with her dad and family.

GiveUsTheImportantNews

August 22nd, 2011
4:00 pm

Most importantly, how did your tennis match go?

Neg Haleysox

August 22nd, 2011
4:10 pm

Pappy and Harriett: Well, you know you can count on me for the latest and greatest Haley updates. :)

Neg Haleysox

August 22nd, 2011
4:19 pm

On the Crystal front, she’s doing A LOT of new and previously unrecorded material at her shows, so you know that means a new album’s coming soon. She’s also including her husband Brian Walker in the band more prominently, and they sound fantastic together. Here’s a sample of a recent show: Miss You/Kiss You – http://youtu.be/50J45bbgQkU

Highlander

August 23rd, 2011
7:47 am

Morning, gang!

That first pic looks like Michael got punched in the eye. Or was he just winking at you, RoHo?? :D

On a sadder note, Nick Ashford (of Ashford & Simpson, responsible for some of Motown’s hits) has passed away.

Harriett

August 23rd, 2011
8:01 am

Morning!

Jerry Leiber has died, too. Leiber wrote “Stand By Me” and “Jailhouse Rock” among others. He was part of the songwriting duo Leiber and Stoller. They were prolific writers.

Harriett

August 23rd, 2011
8:03 am

Also, Leiber and Stoller songs were featured on Idol this past season, too.