James "Super Chikan" Johnson - Sum' Mo' Chikan
Chikan Howse Production / Vizztone Label Group
James "Super Chikan" Johnson says he was "hatched" on 2/16/1951 in Darling MS and now resides near Clarksdale Ms and the infamous “Crossroads.” Too young to work in the fields as a boy, he was fascinated by the family chickens and actually tried to learn their language. He hung out in the chicken yard so much friends and family started calling him "chikan boy."
As a boy, his first instrument was a home made “diddly-bo,” which is basically two nails with a piece of bailing wire stretched from one to the other. This was sometimes done on the side of a barn or just hooked up across a board or piece of wood then plucked like a guitar. Sometimes it had one or more strings. He then built a string model out of a cigar box, and not having any way to tune the strings to change the pitch, he took popsicle sticks and wedged them under the strings at one end to tighten them up.
At 13, he bought his first used
acoustic guitar with only two strings at the Salvation Army. Today
he makes custom "Chikantars" made out of five gallon gas cans and
each painted totally differently. Super Chikan is very good at a lot
of things; he plays bass, guitar, piano, and harmonica, besides
writing very deceptive lyrics. Chikan found also he was a very good
painter, so he uses his "Chik-can-tars" as his canvas with no two
His style is very different, very unique, and his lyrics are the same. He uses terms like some others in a sexual overtone, but I don't think most have heard his. He had many influences, it seems, but he has come up with his own style with very little trace of other artists. Occasionally, he wants you to hear an influence like on the third track called “Hookin Up” with a John Lee Hooker type sound in some of the words and guitar.
Next on the fourth track, I really liked the down and dirty slow blues on a song called “Yard Boy Blues.” First, he tells you what a “yard boy” is, then tells he used to be a “yard boy.” He sings about trimming her juniper bush and getting the leaves out from under them. Then, he tells her he found a wasp nest in her juniper and won't be able to work her flower garden no more. There’s outstanding lyrics and a way better lead guitar part in this song.
James "Super Chikan" Johnson has "hatched” an incredibly unique album with his custom guitars and chicken-talking lyrics. It is more mellow than I usually enjoy, but I would recommend it for its mold breaking differences.
Review by Tom "THE ENERGIZER" Schlesinger, a long time blues lover and fan, and a veteran of many Legendary Blues Cruises and Festivals all over the mid west and Florida.