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Musician Riff Johnson to say goodbye to Maine with August 27 farewell party

August 18, 2021
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Musician Riff Johnson to say goodbye to Maine with August 27 farewell party (photo courtesy of the artist)

BANGOR - A popular Maine performer says he’s about to pull up stakes and leave Maine to tour for an indefinite period. To paraphrase the title of one of Riff Johnson’s recent singles, catch him while you can.

Over the last decade, singer and songwriter Johnson (his real name is Jared Sullivan) has watched his Maine audience expand exponentially and says he’s eager to bring his show to new uncharted locales. He plans to say farewell at a going away party scheduled for Friday, August 27, at Seasons Downunder Club on Main St. in Bangor.

A native of Pittsfield, Johnson says he isn’t nervous about his decision to leave Maine, saying he has a feeling that his future is currently unwritten. Some of his fans wonder why he would leave a state where he’s a known commodity, he says.

“My future just unknown at the moment but that’s the exciting part,” Johnson said during an interview with The Maine Edge. “This is my most ambitious tour by far. Some people have asked how I could leave such a nice place where people know me but I’m ready to go.”

Johnson said the recent loss of his father contributed to his decision to test the water in other areas of the country. He said he plans to hit Nashville first, a music city where he’s already logged six runs of shows, and where he feels he stands out. Johnson said Nashville may be populated with technically superior musicians but that his shows offer something theirs don’t.

“I like to interact with the audience and take requests,” Johnson said. “I haven’t really found anyone there who does what I do.”

Nashville’s reputation as the country music capital isn’t daunting for Johnson, he says, adding he isn’t a huge fan of the genre. “They do love country in Nashville, but they love it in Maine too. I’m not a huge country fan and I joke about that during my shows. I still play country, but I compensate by doing it in my ‘80s voice.”

Johnson says his online Facebook community of fans, known as “Riffer Addicts,” offered him an outlet to continue performing at a time when the pandemic made it impossible for venues to host shows.

Johnson’s fans have helped raise money for a variety of charities over the last several years when the musician played a series of fundraising concerts he called “The 12 Gigs of Riffmas.” Johnson said he plans to keep that tradition going.

“They are an amazing group of fans and I love playing for them,” Johnson said. “As I make my way across the country, I’ll continue to give them updates and will play live for them from wherever I am,” Johnson said.

From Nashville, Johnson said he’ll move on to Florida and make his way to California before making his next leap which he hopes will land him in London by Summer 2022.

Johnson’s latest album is 2017’s “Reinvention,” featuring the catchy pop-rock-reggae infused single “Catch Me If You Can.” He recently shot a video for the song at Selfie Space studio in Brewer where he’s seen in a variety of colorful and unusual settings.

Johnson is working on completing his next album before he leaves Maine and said he plans to have it ready by his birthday in October.

Johnson’s August 27 farewell party, scheduled for Seasons Downunder Club on Main St. in Bangor, will coincide with a performance from Bangor-based rock band Uncrowned Kings.

“I’ll jump in at some point and play a few songs,” Johnson said of the show with Uncrowned Kings. “It’s not so much a performance from me but a chance to hang out with people and say goodbye,” he added.

Johnson said he’s confident that his upcoming adventure is just the move he needs to make.

“It’s a little weird to leave Maine but it’s time. The great thing about music is that nobody can do exactly what you do,” Johnson said.

Last modified on Wednesday, 18 August 2021 07:30

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