Live EP from Toy Hearts

Toy Hearts - Stewart Johnson, Hannah Johnson, Bradley Blackwell, Sophia Johnson, Howard GregoryToy Hearts, surely one of Britain’s most aggressive young bluegrass bands, leaves today for a month in the US. The group is based on a family trio, Stewart Johnson and his two daughters, Hannah and Sophia.

They will be playing at two bluegrass festivals, the Tri-State Bluegrass festival in Indiana and The Bluegrass Heritage festival in Dallas, TX., and have gigs booked in Chicago, Oklahoma, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Waco and Houston. These shows all lead up to their week in Nashville during for IBMA’s World Of Bluegrass.

The group are all very excited to be invited to play at Byron Berline’s legendary fiddle shop, in addition to the opportunity to play onstage with The Texas Swing Kings when they open for Asleep at the Wheel. Toy Hearts also has three radio performances scheduled and slots on two FOX TV shows, and they are planning to document the US tour with a video diary.

Lead vocalist and mandolin player, Hannah Johnson commented,

“We are all very excited about the trip and especially now we have our visas printed and returned to us….. We’re ready to go!  Can’t wait!”

In preparation for the US tour, Toy Hearts have recently recorded a live-in-the-studio EP which they will offer for sale at their live appearances in September.

Guitarist Sophia Johnson tells us more…

Toy Hearts in the studio - August 21, 2009“The recording of the live EP was done on Friday, 21st August, at Major Key Studios in The Public in West Bromwich (close to Birmingham UK where we live).

The regular line up of Hannah, Dad [Stewart Johnson on banjo] and myself was joined by Bradley Blackwell on double bass, and a young virtuoso French fiddle player, Raphael Maillet, we have recently been working with, and who will be touring with us in the USA.

We recorded 6 songs completely live – 5 brand new originals:

  • The Captain
  • Tequila and High Heels
  • The Cat Song
  • Bet Good Money
  • She Got There First

… and also a longtime audience and band favorite, a song called Carolina that we got from a CD by Kate McKenzie.”

You can find the entire US tour schedule on the band’s web site.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.