Kevin Johnson started playing guitar when he was 18 and working at D’Amico’s, alongside local folk singer Mark Raddatz. Johnson had been playing trombone throughout high school, but was first introduced to guitar during that time.
“Pete (D’Amico) bought me my first guitar and really pushed me to play music,” recalled Johnson. “I had put a guitar on layaway at Henry’s Music in Green Bay. When I went to pay it off, they told me Pete had bought it.”
He credits Raddatz as being a big influence on his early music. Johnson played “lots of open mic nights at the Bayside.” He also played with the Mullet Hunters in the early days before moving away from Door County.
When Johnson moved back (to Door County), he missed playing music and wanted to be in a band again. About a year and a half ago, he gathered a few friends to start playing together.
After a few changes in members, the group now consists of Johnson, singing and playing lead guitar, Jeff Adams on lead rhythm guitar, Nate Lang on bass and Robbie LeClair playing drums. Adams also sings lead on a couple of songs, too.
The group chose Rocky Waters Band as a name after a handful of discussions and Google searches. They wanted it to reflect on both Door County and the music they were playing, but not be another band’s name.
Rocky Waters plays classic rock covers, some are familiar but they also play a lot of what you don’t hear every day, like the ‘B’ side of a Neil Young album, he said.
“I love when people come up to me and say, ‘I can’t believe you played that song!’” said Johnson.
Johnson attributes his influences to the Allman Brothers, Black Crowes, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin and Wilco – all styles and sounds they’re working toward.
“‘That’s where my heart and soul is,” he said.
The band members span four decades, so they cover many genres of music.
“Nate and Robbie throw new songs at me for us to try,” said Johnson. “Jeff (a former member of the band, Square Grouper) leans more toward old blues and classic rock.”
After weekly practices and learning three sets worth of songs, “this summer it really took off, we played gigs at the Cornerstone, Husby’s Garage Bar, Pen Pub, the Mink River Basin and Sister Bay Bowl.”
Looking to the future, Johnson said the band’s goal is to start writing their own songs and plan on doing so this winter. They also want to expand their audience base to beyond Door County. “I’d love to add an organ or keyboard player, too,” he said.
Check out our Events Calendar to catch the band’s next performance. To learn more about Rocky Waters Band, ‘like’ them on Facebook.