Introducing Lara Johnston

by Chuck Dauphin

If by chance you are fortunate enough to see Rock & Roll legends the Doobie Brothers on the road this summer and fall, pay special close attention to their opening act. You’re going to see and hear a lot more about her.

Lara Johnston has one of those voices that have a way of captivating you from the first time you hear it. The daughter of Doobie Brothers member Tom Johnston, Lara is making an impact on the music world with her current single, “The Party’s Over.” It has a current Pop beat, but underneath it all lays a vocalist who has no problem showing her blues side.

“That’s exactly what I was going for on it. Growing up, Soul Music was always my favorite kind of music. I wanted to marry the honesty of Soul Music with catchy Pop writing. That was my goal.”

She is putting the final touches on her upcoming album that features “The Party’s Over.” She admits it’s a little bit of a departure from what she has performed before. “It’s definitely a little bit more poppy than I’m used to. I really wanted to try my hand at making a pop record. I worked with great writers, and did some writing on my own. I really studied crafting catchy hooks. I think it’s a really solid effort. It’s got really catchy songs, a lot of emotion. It’s kind of Pop / Rock, so I’m hoping people will be able to relate to it,” she says.

For her upcoming album, she has teamed with some great Nashville tunesmiths, including Tommy Lee James. “What a great writer he is,” she exclaims. “He is incredible. It was such a treat for me to come to Nashville and work with a writer like him, and it was such an honor. I wholly admire his work, and I enjoyed getting to be a part of his creative process, and get to bounce ideas off of him. I really enjoyed writing with him.”

The Doobies tour, on which she’ll be opening, makes as Nashville stop on Thursday, August 14 at the hallowed Ryman Auditorium. In addition to being the home of the Grand Ole Opry  from 1943-1974, it also has some of the best acoustics in America. “I’m so excited. I can’t even believe I have this opportunity. I’m just thrilled. I have heard so much about the Ryman and the history that has happened there.”

As far as the new album goes, Johnston says she hopes it’s out soon. “I’m hoping in the next month or so. It’s all a part of getting the packaging together, and how we want to distribute it, whether we want to shop it to labels, or go the independent route.”

She admits the business model has changed, and there’s a lot of different ways to get your music heard. “There’s definitely a way of doing it yourself, and being your own marketing machine. I think that the challenge of that is cutting through all the other stuff that is out there. It’s tough to separate yourself without the so-called “machine” behind you, but it definitely is possible.”

Johnston wants fans to react to her music much the same way they have to that of her father’s band, which gave her a true appreciation for music. “I feel so blessed to have had the childhood that I had. I was surrounded by music in the best way, whether it was going out on the road every summer, traveling around with my dad, and my mom and brothers. When my dad was home, he would be practicing all the time, exposing us to all the great music that he grew up loving. It was very educational, as he exposed us to a huge variety of incredible music, from the Temptations to Dr. John to Johnny Cash to everything. I feel so fortunate because from an early age, music just spoke to me. It’s such an important part of my life. I couldn’t imagine living any other way.”

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