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Playing at Rosecliff Mansion, Newport

Rocking the monkey suits at Rosecliff Mansion, Newport, May 2009

the band

Love that dirty water ...


The Johnson Brothers played at a wedding recently featured in the Boston magazine The Knot - click here for a PDF of the article.

The Knot wedding magazine cover

The SJs appear in a
Stephen King Novel!
-- jump to article below

(Click on the photos below for larger images)


The Swinging Johnsons / Johnson Brothers


The Swinging Johnsons, a.k.a. the Johnson Brothers, is a club/G.B. (general business) band based in the Boston area. In our heyday we averaged about 200 dates a year. Most of you will remember us from our regular residencies, Thursdays at the Burren (2001-2009), Fridays at the Skellig (2003-2011), and Sundays at the Green Dragon (1998-2009) (as well as the over 700’s weddings we’ve performed at over the last 17 years).

As of late, we’ve been performing more at private events and functions, but we still book the occasional special club date to keep in touch with our fan base. We’ve always enjoyed playing weddings and corporate parties, as they give us even more of a chance to play music from the different eras.

The band still specializes in bridging the gap between the traditional wedding band and the crazy, high-energy club band. Our strength is that we have a working repertoire of over 2,000 songs, spanning the length and breadth of American popular music over the last six decades. The SJs / JBs are a unique musical entity that can effortlessly and spontaneously go from one end of the musical rainbow to the other. There are hundreds of generic wedding bands out there, but there's only one Swinging Johnsons / Johnson Brothers.

About our Two Names

The Swinging Johnsons and the Johnson Brothers are the same band. The only difference between the two is whether or not we're adding our fourth and fifth members (keys and sax), and whether or not we’re wearing suits and being well-paid. Seriously, we started using The Johnson Brothers for wedding/corporate events because it seemed less offensive (“No daughter of mine is going to have a band called the Swinging Johnsons play at her wedding,” etc.). The reason we still use both names is that we've done a lot of good work under each one, and we want people to be able to find us when they need us.

Band Members

At the heart of the band are the "dueling" Chris's, namely, Chris Marsh (bass and vocals), and Chris Leadbetter (guitar and vocals). These two recently celebrated their 3,000th gig together over a 16-year period, an amazing four gigs a week on average. Their enormous repertoire and telepathic connection are a testament to these years together in the trenches. Fearlessly following them into battle are Perry James on drums and vocals, Dave Ramsay on keyboards, and Bob Kirby on saxophone and vocals.

(Don’t fall for the “bigger band is better” myth. The average wedding band tries to make up for what they lack in energy and spontaneity by adding a huge horn section, a couple of American Idol-rejects on vocals, and some matching vests.  The five-piece SJ’s/JB’s is popular because it is a real band of musicians, each of whom is carrying his own weight on stage, and is always “in the moment” whenever and wherever it performs.)

NEW: Chris Marsh endorses Fodera Basses

See the Merchandise page for more info.

NEW: The Swinging Johnsons Appear in a Stephen King Novel!

It seems we've been immortalized in a Stephen King novel, of all places. In Chapter VIII, part 5 of his novel, Lisey's Story, the band is first mentioned:

Lisey brushed the surface of the photograph with the tips of her fingers, slipping them across the people they'd been back at SCOTT AND LISEY, THE BEGINNING! and found she could even remember the name of the band from Boston (The Swinging Johnsons, pretty funny) and the song to which they had danced in front of their friends: a cover of "Too Late to Turn Back Now," by Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose.

Then, on the next page, it continues:

At some point the clouds had broken open and the room had been flooded with windy moonlight. In that light she had at last fallen asleep. The next day, a Sunday, they had driven through countryside that was reverting back from winter to fall, and less than a month later they had been dancing to The Swinging Johnsons: "Too Late to Turn Back Now."

And finally, in Chapter XVI, part 10, King brings us back:

...In her mind she could hear The Swinging Johnsons playing "Too Late to Turn Back Now" and feel Scott's hand as he led her out onto the floor.

Copyright 2006 Stephen King

Anyway, we're guessing the horror-meister was at one of the Maine weddings we did over the years, and was nice enough to mention us by name. Thanks, Stephen, and all of our friends and fans who were nice enough to let us know about it.

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