JOHNNY SCHAEFER BEATS THE HEAT
By Valerie Milano
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 8/30/16 – Los Angeles has suffered record heat this summer, but singer-songwriter Johnny Schaefer has been in full holiday mode recording an album of Christmas songs. From Here to Nativity is Schaefer’s sophomore project. In October of 2013 he released Acoustic Remedy, an eclectic mix of songs with a wide range of themes and musical vibes. The new album gives fans more of his creative songwriting and smooth, agile vocals.
Johnny just finished up two nights singing backup for Josh Groban at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles and is working with some terrific musicians on the new project. “I am crowd-funding this album, which gives me an opportunity to work with people like Stephan Oberhoff, who is currently co-producing with Quincy Jones and served as Melissa Manchester’s Music Director for a decade, Christoph Bull, who heads the organ program at UCLA, Grammy-nominated harpist Carol Robbins, Chad Ellis from the band Poe, the Passenger, and drummer Sean Winchester (Everclear), to name a few” Schaefer beamed. “It has been an incredible experience!”
The new album will be a mix of traditional favorites like Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella, the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria and O Holy Night as well as a number of brand new original Christmas tunes. “It’s true to my form of trying new things” Schaefer added. “The Ave Maria will be a very straight-forward rendition because, well, you can’t improve on Bach, but the other covers will be a little different from the usual settings. For example, O Holy Night will be a jazz waltz with harp, bass and drums. It’s often a bit dirgy for my taste. We’re lightening it up.”
The inspiration to do a Christmas album came from the success of Schaefer’s single last year titled All the Babes on Christmas Born. “We released it late, but still got a lot of airplay. Marianne Williamson saw the video on YouTube and immediately called asking me to sing it at her Christmas Eve service in Beverly Hills. She told me that I was ‘A walking Christmas’, which is kind of true. I absolutely love Christmas and Christmas music. So it makes perfect sense for me to make this album.”
“I think the album will surprise a lot of people”, he added. “It’s a journey from Advent to Epiphany. Along the way the individual Christmas stories facilitate a huge range of sounds and moods. The last song is a Latin jam about the Rosca de Reyes (Kings Cake) popular in the Latino community.” Schaefer is married to a Mexican immigrant, Paco Silva, who creates most of his music videos. “LA is the perfect spot to make an album like this. We’re a melting pot of amazing cultures and viewpoints. It’s wonderful. I take a look at that through the lens of the holidays. It’s a really fun ride.
Hear Johnny on the Put it Together Podcast http://putittogetherpodcast.blogspot.com/2016/08/episode-139-christmas-wish-johnny.html
Posted on December 3, 2015 by Valerie Milano
By Valerie Milano
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 12/3/15 – Johnny Schaefer is an eclectic Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter. He has an album, Acoustic Remedy featuring mostly original material. Award-winning author Elizabeth Massie wrote the lyric for this hauntingly beautiful song, set to music by singer-songwriter Johnny. It begins quietly with a solo guitar and instruments chime in gradually, then a choir, as it builds and soars to a stunning crescendo at the glorious end. For those longing to return to the true meaning of the holiday, this is a perfect anthem. Luscious arrangements and Schaefer’s rich baritone vocals communicate Massie’s universal message with clarity and warmth. All the Babes on Christmas Born offers the sweet reverence, majesty, and hope of the Christmas season. Massie and Schaefer became friends through a Facebook community Schaefer formed called the Gratitude Club. They learned a lot about one another seeing five things each other was grateful for every day. They gained a mutual respect for one another’s talent and Massie presented Schaefer with the exquisite poem the song is crafted from. With Massie living in Virginia and Schaefer residing in Los Angeles, the two have never met, but you would not know it from the perfect synthesis of their work on All the Babes on Christmas Born. Be sure to catch the uplifting video on YouTube and elsewhere. Be sure to check out the popular video!
Copyright 2015 Elizabeth Massie, ASCAP, and Johnny Schaefer , ASCAP / Auditory Verve Music, ASCAP
Genre Hopping With Style
"Don’t let the fading childhood photograph of singer/songwriter Johnny Schaefer’s Acoustic Remedy album trick you into thinking this is some kind of safe unplugged outing. No, there’s nothing on the record that even hints of sonic dissonance; however, Schaefer’s wild eclecticism easily makes it among the year’s most refreshingly original efforts, a fiercely independent vision that refuses to compromise for the purpose of easy commercial accessibility.
Given the emotional depth of his singing and the strength of his lyrical content, it becomes quickly obvious that Schaefer’s genre hopping isn’t a case of executing it for its own sake. He is simply an artist with a passion for various styles of music, and he will not allow any boundaries to limit his creative scope. The moving “April Fool” is a tale of how cultural clashes can tear into romantic relationships. The song’s hybrid of folk, Latin, and jazz echoes its theme of acceptance of ethnic differences.
Elsewhere, Schaefer explores his artistry with no regard to categorization. “Closer Than You Think” is throbbing synthesized pop while “Time to Cry” is soulfully performed Easy Listening. Just when the R&B pulse of “So Cold” seemed to stabilize Schaefer as a purveyor of adult pop, albeit on the adventurous side, arrives “Invocation,” a stunning combination of New Age atmospherics, chanting, and a spoken-word prayer from Marianne Williamson. Inventive and absolutely unique, Acoustic Remedy epitomizes how daring and fascinating music can be when the rule book is tossed out."
No Depression: The Roots Music Authority
Johnny Schaefer is No April Fool
By Valerie Milano, Hollywood, CA (Hollywood Today) 1/30/2014 –
“I’ve been an April Fool, but if I promise to try, oh, could we be back together by Cinco de Mayo?” -Johnny Schaefer’s April Fool from his album Acoustic Remedy New music at www.jearjohnny.com
A friend once share an album with me that he really loved. The concept was that one side showcased the singer’s naughty side while the other focused on her sweet, pure side. The cover highlighted this by showing the artist in an angelic outfit on the front and a devil outfit on the back. I didn’t tell my friend, but I wouldn’t have known which side was which by listening. They both sounded the same to me. Obviously, for my friend, though, they were like night and day. I think that disparity came from our varied reference points. He mostly listened to a very easy-listening pop genre while I like a lot of variety. We live in an eclectic city. LA is home to people from all over the world and that makes for a fascinating cultural tapestry, if we choose to explore it. Some artists contribute by immersing themselves in a particular style and exemplifying it, while others choose to play with all that’s available to create something new. In his album, Acoustic Remedy, Johnny Schaefer takes the latter approach, with fascinating results.
It’s not every day that you’ll pop a CD into a player and hear a reggae-flavored tune followed by a jazz ballad about culture clash, followed later by tunes featuring spiritual leader/former Presidential candidate Marianne Williamson and a techno gay marriage anthem. That, and more, is what you get with Schaefer’s adventurous debut. Schaefer’s smooth vocals and insightful lyrics span a huge range of emotion with skill. Schaefer has a degree in music from California State University, Fullerton and has been the cantor at Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood for decades. Consequently, you’ll hear a hauntingly beautiful piece titled Invocation which combines author and lecturer Marianne Williamson’s now famous opening prayer with an 800 year old Gregorian chant, The Golden Sequence, which is sung in many Christian churches at Pentecost. Schaefer adeptly mixes in a tone poem of instruments from all over the world and the result has my Buddhist monk friend using it for her morning meditation. The fact that this follows a celebratory dance remix of Schaefer’s response to Prop. 8, It’s About Love, can be jarring, but for some reason, it works. Add in an ingenious mash up of the children’s classic Row Your Boat with Moon River accompanied brilliantly and intimately by harpist Carol Robbins and you get an idea of the scope of the recording. This is not your grandma’s Moon River, but, as Schaefer says in notes on his website, we’ve already heard it done that way by fabulous singers. Schaefer offers a unique spin and it’s quite lovely.
In an age when no one over 25 is even allowed to participate in American Idol, Johnny Schaefer embraces the fact that he is now 52 with passionate energy. He experiments with new sounds and also pays tribute to pop songstress Melissa Manchester in a beautiful mashup of her songs, Midnight Blue and Lights of Dawn. He also explores breaking up with These are the Walls, Your Sweater and Closer than You Think, each with from a different angle both lyrically and musically. He features some soulful trombone playing by Paul Nowell on the achingly beautiful So Cold
It was smart of Schaefer to put 17 songs on Acoustic Remedy. With over 74 minutes of music, it is a journey that will lift you up and make you hit repeat. The final anthem, Love Shines On, puts an exclamation point on his unabashed message that love conquers all. It’s worth taking a chance on and is available on his website at www.hearjohnny.com, iTunes, Amazon, and radio sites like Spotify. You can also hear a great interview where Schaefer discusses the creative process and much more on Daniel Garza’s Put it Together podcast on iTunes radio."
“In a time when one iPod might shuffle tunes by Jason Mraz, David Bowie, Lady Gaga and Bach, Johnny Schaefer offers an intriguing mix of 17 eclectic tunes. ” - Valerie Milano