Style of music, in 10 words or less: "Authentic heartfelt folk country songs about love, loss, hope, despair"
Three artists he owes everything to: His grandfather BJ "The DJ" Johnson, his friend Cary Hudson, The Changing Colors
Debut performance: 2002
Recordings: A Time to Dance (2011), New West Sound (2013)
Why he matters: "I think it's important for every good music scene to have a heartfelt, gut-wrenching songwriter playing to an empty bar on a Tuesday night," says Joe Johnson, describing a scenario that's all too familiar to local musicians who play out with any frequency. But the Mississippi-born musician has been accomplishing more than that self-deprecating comment would suggest: At last year's MeadowGrass Festival, headliner Todd Snider sat in during his set, while outlaw country legend Ray Wylie Hubbard invited Johnson onstage last month to perform a Townes Van Zandt song. In the months ahead, Johnson will be going to Texas to appear on Hubbard's radio show, hitting the West Coast to perform and hang out with Willy Tea & the Outfit, and also swinging up to Canada for some dates with Zachary Lucky. And in between, of course, you can still find him playing to the masses at a venue near you.
2nd place: Chauncy Crandall
3rd place: Woodshed Red