Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1976)
- Bill Johnson -- vocals, pedal steel guitar, lead guitar
- Bob Johnson -- vocals, drums, percussion
- Tom Mobley -- vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonica
- Bagwell Canterfield -- banjo
- Bob Liederbach -- fiddle
- Moe Whittemore -- synthesizers, keyboards
- Tom Moberly
- Sweetwater Line (Bob Johnson)
Genre: country rock
Rating: 3 stars ***
Company: 700 West
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Catalog ID: 393
After a stint in the Army, a college degree, and an Air Force tour, singer/guitarist Mobley kicked around the Indiana music scene playing in the band Shiloh Morning, and working in the duo Pleasant Street, before joining Sequoiah with brothers Bill and Bob Johnson.
Signed by Moe Whittemore's 700 West label, the trio debuted with 1976's cleverly titled "Sequoiah". Produced by Whittemore, the album featured a combination of band originals and covers by the likes of Gordon Lightfoot ('Brave Mountaineers') and Jerry Jeff Walker ('Bo Jangles'). All three members handled vocals with Mobley having the best voice of the three. Musically the album found the trio offering up a pleasant mixture of country-rock numbers and more country oriented numbers. Imagine a mixture of Asleep At the Wheel, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Poco, and you'd be in the right aural neighborhood. The results were never less than professional, but with the possible exception of the ballad 'Trail of Tears' and 'When You Are Old' nothing here was particularly original, or inspirational. Too be totally honest, were it not for the connection with 700 West, there's a good chance this set would have disappeared without a trace.
"Sequioah" track listing:
1.) Memories (of a Man and a Woman) (Robert Johnson) - rating: *** stars
'Memories (of a Man and a Woman)' was a pretty, acoustic country-tinged ballad. Nothing particularly original or special, the song's high came in the form of a nice acoustic guitar and some brief harmony vocals.
2.) I Can't Make It Any Better (Bill Johnson) - rating: ** stars
In spite of some tasty electric guitar, 'I Can't Make It Any Better' suffered from a straightforward country melody and a painful lead vocal - imagine one of those Johnny Cash, or Merle Haggard songs. Given he wrote it, I'm guessing Bill Johnson handled the vocal.
3.) Bo Jangles (Jerry Jeff Walker) - rating: ** stars
The song was actually entitled 'Mr. Bo Jangles' but who cares ... Way too country for my tastes, the extended "old man" narrative section was just plain painful to listen to.
4.) When You Are Old (Tom Mobley) - rating: **** stars
Mobley's 'When You Are Old' was easily the best tune on side one. A pretty country-rock ballad, the tune had a gleaming melody and a nice Mobley vocal - yeah, the lyric was a bit on the sweet side, but it was still a nice performance.
5.) Brave Mountaineers (Gordon Lightfoot) - rating: ** stars
Hum, pedal steel guitar was a pretty good indication that their cover of Gordon Lightfoot's 'Brave Mountaineers' was going to be very country-ish.
Another album highlight, coutesy of some electtic guiatr and producer Whittemore's synthesizers, Mobley's 'We're Al Friends' was the song came the closest to copping a rock attitude. Nice tune.
2.) The Sun Shines for You (Bob Johnson) - rating: *** stars
Pretty acoustic country tune that showcased the trio's sweet harmony vocals and got an extra star for Bill Johnson's unexpected blazing electric guitar solo.
3.) Now She's Gone (Bill Johnson) - rating: ** stars
Sappy, lounge act pop ...
4.) Trail of Tears (Bill Johnson) - rating: **** stars
I'm a pretty cynical guy, but have to admit that 'Trail of Tears' was a beautiful song. Built on a bed of shimmering acoustic guitars and again showcasing their crystalline voices, this was a wonderful performance.
5.) Jambalaya (Hank Williams) - rating: ** stars
The liner notes claimed this was a live performance (recorded at VFD Ham 'n Bean supper), but to my ears the audience sound effects sure sound like they were added in. Their slowed down cover was pleasant, but nothing special.
The band seemingly only recorded this one album before calling it quits. Mobley relocated to Florida and has remained active in music, recording a series of ten solo albums. While there's precious little information on Sequoiah, Mobley has a small website at: http://tommobley.comoj.com/index.html
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