Meet the Velvet Tumbleweeds
Mike Johnson-Guitars, ebo, lap steel
Mike Johnson spent his early years surfing and playing sports while growing up in Santa Cruz, Ca. It wasn’t until the high school years that he began his path in music. After high school he spent a year off snowboarding in the Tahoe area with friends where his love for music really flourished. In the year following he studied music and art at Santa Barbara City College followed by another year back in Santa Cruz at Cabrillo College. He continued to sharpen his skill over the next several years and continued studying music under one of Santa Cruz’s finest, Renzo Staiano. Mike is a versatile player and has been part of the Santa Cruz/Bay Area music scene in acts stretching from original/cover reggae “The Missing Channel”, to dance party cover band “Room9” , to other original Bay Area acts from “Alli Battaglia” to his latest, “Amee Chapman and the Velvet Tumbleweeds”. Over the years Mike has studied music in genres like rock, funk, blues, reggae, and dabbled in country and jazz. He is proficient on guitar rhythm, lead, slide, and ebow. Mike, also a competent lap steel and dobro player finds his versatility as a multi instrumentalist suitable for his current venture of Americana music fronted by great singer/song writer Amee Chapman.
His love of music goes back as far as his hairline. Pops listened to mostly old school, rowdy outlaw country such as Waylon, Willie, Merle, Hank Sr, etc- Moms listened to Linda Ronstadt, the Beatles, Carly Simon, and Fleetwood Mac. Junior High brought reggae and pop. High School brought rock and roll, grunge, more reggae, and gansta rap (seriously). College threw in some DUB, punk, classic rock, black funk and R&B, jazz, and hardcore blues. Old School Country was always present.
As far as playing bass it started in high school and never stopped. Professionally for a few years in LA. Played in tons of bands, played on tons of records. A short list of some notable bands- S4, Agents of Ecstasy, Satellites and Magnets, Missing Channel, Leilas Fault, Reed KD and the Armchair Aviators, Room 9, Leroy Powell, and now the great Amee Chapman.
Paul is living the dream behind his vintage Slingerland drums. Hailing from the rich Southern California music scene of the mid-1980′s, Paul’s first bands tended toward the punk/surf variety. Paul’s diverse musical tastes pretty much run the entire gamut of the music spectrum, with a specific affinity for the music of the Grateful Dead. After moving to Monterey in 1997 Paul worked with the Santa Cruz based band Phicus for a number of years. Eventually settling near the beach in Santa Cruz, a wide range of musical opportunities have kept him very busy doing what he loves, simply making great music with great people. Paul turns up on the drum chair for such diverse bands as the Banana Slug String Band (doing kids ‘edutainment’ music), plays straight-up Grateful Dead tunes with Slugs and Roses, and also branches into the bluegrass-tinged hybrid styling of Groove Grass. Paul had just attempted to piece together an ‘alt-country’ band with former bandmates, when he met Amee at Strawberry Music Festival. Playing with the Velvet Tumbleweeds has opened up Paul’s musical universe a tad wider.
Dave Wren-Pedal Steel (Honorary Band Member!)
Dave Wren’s lifetime love affair with the pedal steel guitar is steeped in years of traditional Country and Western Swing music, mixed with liberal quantities of rock and blues. As a young musician Dave played throughout northern California, opening for the country rock bands Commander Cody and Asleep at the Wheel. Dave’s major musical influences include country-rock pedal steel guitarists “Sneaky” Pete Kleinow (of the Flying Burrito Brothers) and Buddy Emmons; guitarists Mike Bloomfield, Jimmy Hendricks, and Eric Clapton; and big band swing great, clarinet master Benny Goodman. Dave plays a “universal” 12 string tuning, which combines both the E9th and B6th steel guitar tunings.
Inducted into the Western Swing Music Society’s “Hall of Fame” in 2008, and the Northwest Western Swing Music Society”s “Pioneers of Western Swing Music” in 2010, Dave is a surviving member of Amee’s previous band “The Big Finish”… and has been by Amee’s side on stage for the past 5 years. His rich harmonic textures, and sparkling lead phrases make Dave Wren a perfect fit for the “Sagebrush Soul” sound of Amee Chapman and the Velvet Tumbleweeds.