May 13, 2004

Johnathan Rice, 20, Is No John Mayer Clone


By Randy J. Klodz

He may just be turning 21 at the end of this month, but that isn’t going to stop this singer/songwriter from becoming the next big thing. Johnathan Rice will be performing an acoustic set in support, the Cardigans, whose sound he calls “Glacial Pop,” for a May 16 Chicago date at Double Door.

Rice is aboard a tour with the Cardigans, the popular Swedes, a band that has garnered a vast following over the years. The humble Rice isn’t even sure why he was chosen by the band to serve as support for the tour. “I haven’t gotten around to asking them how they heard of me, but they asked me to come on tour and I said, ‘Thank you very much, yes,’” said Rice.

With this tour bringing Rice to the Double Door, which requires all concert attendees to be 21 or older, some may wonder if bar security across the nation gives Rice a hard time about his young age. “I usually just tell them that I am [21-years-old], because usually they just expect that a touring musician would be over 21,” Rice said. But he has run into his share of problems. Rice recalls a time when he was performing in Los Angeles at a venue called Club Spaceland where upon finishing his set, security escorted him from the stage to the curb outside, where he had to remain until the end of the show.

But the boy can sure hold is own. The deep, Scottish accent of Rice’s voice sounds more mature than of a young performer on his upcoming album “Trouble is Real,” which is set for release later this year. But don’t be fooled into thinking Rice is another one of these trendy, prototypical acoustic guitar performers. Sure, he plays shows with only he and his guitar, but he also records and performs with a full band. Some critics have compared him to John Mayer, a likeness that Rice doesn’t find flattering in the least bit.

The transient introduction and background of “Leave the Light On,” and the string arrangements on “My Father’s Son” and “Mid November” make Rice’s sound more like that of Rob Dougan than that of John Mayer. The loud, distorted guitar of “Salvation Day” and the feel-good bounce to “Kiss Me Goodbye” should give rock fans a glimpse of what Rice is like live with a full band.

Though Rice isn’t the San Francisco treat--he’s from Brooklyn, N.Y., he will be making two more Chicago appearances in the near future. Rice will be supporting Dido on June 5 at Chicago Theater and a June 22 supporting slot on Rachael Yamagata’s tour at Schubas.

Double Door is at 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave. Tickets for this 21+ show are listed for $15 each with a show start time of 9 p.m. For more information on Johnathan Rice log on to www.johnathanrice.com.
Johnathan Rice Photo: Autumn DeWilde