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
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.
||Photo: Autumn DeWilde