Mick Johnson is a well-known music figure in Kearney for his talent playing a variety of instruments and for his amazing smile. First he started performing with the Kearney State College – Pride of the Plains – Marching Band and Jazz-Rock Ensemble. Then Johnson and a few buddies formed their own rock band – The Untold. The band members, all music majors, took classes together and lived in the same off-campus apartment. Uh-Oh. Look out.
They spent their college years playing every weekend. They even had their own tour bus, an old 88-passenger school bus that made countless trips to gigs across Nebraska, Kansas and eastern Colorado. That’s how we paid our bills – Johnson said. Believe it or not, we made pretty decent money as a rock band in Nebraska. Fear of Flying band was a hit wherever they performed – with Greg Sales and Dave Lerbakken.
Then when Wes Hird retired as piano tuner at University of Nebraska at Kearney, Johnson followed in his mentor’s footsteps by joining the UNK staff in 2007 – Piano technician at University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Music department. His piano tuning – his perfect pitch – is what makes him so good at his job as well as contributes a solid vocal to his bands. He tunes pianos for Hastings College, Wesleyan University, various churches and schools.
Johnson also enjoys his time on the stage. After a seven-year hiatus, he resurrected his music career in 2014 when he joined the reprised Blackberry Winter, a classic rock horn band formed in the early 1970s at Kearney State College and they returned with their amazing horn sound. As guitarist, percussionist and vocalist, he is also a member of the spin-off groups Blue Plate Special and the dB Duo, as well.
Kearney just seemed like a good fit for me – Johnson said. The piano technician is great job. I like this town. And I have fond memories of this school. Some of the best times of my life revolve around my days here at UNK and Kearney.
Written by Kate Benzel
* Photo by Kerri Garrison
* dB Duo - Video produced by Kate Benzel, Face at My Door Music
* Photos included in video by Kate Benzel, Face at My Door Music
* "Moondance" written by Van Morrison performed by Mick Johnson (vocals and guitar), Terry Sinnard (bass)
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