So far he's been able to keep up with the shifts of personnel ... you know, who is playing with whom, when and where, and in fact, he's quite relaxed about the whole situation.
Brad Johner is enjoying the most recent twist to his musical career, having his sons join him for a variety of concerts and appearances. They've been doing it for awhile and so far ... so good.
Johner still has a hectic schedule with his regular bandmates and sometimes he and his brother, Ken, joined by a musician or two will reprise the Johner Brothers' tunes they established in the 1980s as one of Canada's hottest country and western musical duos before Brad took off on a solo career. That was met with success and several awards such as the Male Country Artist of the Year, Favourite Country Artist at the Canadian Independent Music Awards and three Juno nominations.
Occasionally now with all five sons in tow, Johner is discovering a new joy in producing music that will appeal to his substantial fan base, while adding some new ones.
“The boys and I just did a concert in Maryfield and on Thursday we're doing a store opening (Cabela's) here in Saskatoon. They're expecting over 6,000 people, so the boys are really pumped about that — a whole parking lot full of people. Hope the weather is better,” he said with a chuckle.
Johner's oldest son Lucas, 18, handles piano/keyboard and provides vocal harmony occasionally becoming a lead singer when the Johner family takes to the stage.
Jesse, 16, is the drummer, while Quinn, 14, also contributes keyboards as well as lead and harmony vocals, and Matthew, 10, chips in with some bass work and also likes to operate the lighting systems and works on the technical side on occasion.
Then there is six-year-old Aidan. “He's our merchandiser extraordinaire along with Rhea (wife and mother). He's showing interest on the singing side too, so who knows?”
Johner said “it was a pleasant surprise” that the boys took to music so wholeheartedly. They took piano lessons like a lot of kids do and their father said he never pushed them toward taking up music as a serious consideration.
“We made music available to them, had a drum set in the basement, the usual stuff. Of course they knew about 100 half-songs ... you know, they kinda knew part of the lyrics to a bunch of songs, but didn't know any of them completely. Then we decided to do a little concert for their grandpa and grandma's anniversary, so we put something together and they really seemed to like it,” said Johner.
Sometimes Lucas's friend, Simon Jasieniuk, 17, joins in with bass and guitar.
The harmonizing for the Johners has come about almost effortlessly. They sorted that out quickly as they added to their repertoire. Sometimes the boys take the lead roles and Dad will simply back them up, playing a little bass in the background.
“Now they want to do their own songs, and I'm willing to help them, but of course, I'm just the dad who doesn't know anything about that. So I just tell them to come and see me when they want to do it right,” he said with a laugh.
Swinging between his work with the sons, his brother Ken and/or the full band he deploys with his solo gigs, hasn't created any major problems for the veteran performer.
“Ken will be joining me for a concert this month, but he's farming, so it's tough for him to be available in May. Then the boys and I will be at the Orr Centre in Regina on May 12 for a farewell concert for the Western Christian College. They're closing their doors so they're going out with some music,” said Johner.
There is a corporate booking on May 26 that will include Brad and Ken plus the regular bandmates and on June 8, Ken and Brad will be joined by bandmate Sean on bass for an RV Jamboree in Weyburn.
Brad and his son, Lucas, are also booked later this summer for a music festival.
“It just falls together, really it does, with a full band, with Ken, with the boys. Now the boys are just getting a little more involved, learning new songs, learning what they do best and how to pace a full set and full concert. They have access to a recording studio when they think they'll be ready and I'll help them with that, but of course, I'm still just old Dad who doesn't know anything about it. Sometimes I wonder if they understand what it is I've been doing all these years?” he added with another laugh.
“They're finding out that it can be a lot of fun. It's good for them to get out and meet people and they don't mind the road,” he said.
Johner said as far as his own career was concerned, he appreciated the opportunity to “kinda fly under the radar for awhile.” He's recording, doing singles and has written some new material that will come out as singles.
“I'm doing, and we're doing, more shows than ever. It's a full calendar actually and getting that face time with people ... I really like that part of it and when Rhea can join us, she gets to keep all the Johner guys in line. We're having fun,” he said in conclusion.