Gene Johnson, a founding member of country group Diamond Rio – and a former mandolinist/vocalist with J.D. Crowe & the New South – is set to undergo open heart surgery in June, with Chris Davis, recently of Junior Sisk & Rambler’s Choice, set to fill in for the duration of his recovery.
Johnson was with Crowe during roughly the same time frame as Keith Whitley, with Steve Bryant on bass. He was, and is, a strong tenor singer memorable for his trios with Whitley and Crowe.
Needless to say, Chris is plenty excited about this opportunity.
“It’s an honor to even be considered, though I pray that Gene will be back even sooner than expected.”
He tells us that the opportunity came his way by a circuitous route. Johnson asked John Cowan to suggest a mandolinist who was a good high tenor singer, and who would be free for a summer tour. Cowan in turn asked Nashville fiddler/singer Aaron Till, who asked his friend Lorie Davis.
Lorie, who is a popular bartender in Nashville – and Chris’ sister – quickly suggested him for the gig.
“Gene called a few days ago and left a message. I was completely overwhelmed. I’ve been doing this for so long – since I was 15 – and I was so proud to hear his message asking me about filling in.”
Davis will be covering 18 dates over 3 months, traveling in a style few bluegrass artists will be accustomed to, with an instrument tech to tune and set up his mandolin on the road.
Congratulations Chris, and best wishes for a quick recovery to Gene!