Sharing an interview from awhile back with Kenney Dale Johnson the fantastic drummer for Chris Issak – thought I would share again since they are currently on tour and not to be missed!
Food Beat: Kenney Dale Johnson Drummer for Chris Isaak Discovering Local Cuisine on the Road
By Maryann Kraker
There has been a lot of chatter over the past few months about food as the new rock and roll and chefs as the new rock stars. While I’m not sure we’ll ever see chefs inducted into a food hall of fame, it seems to me that rock stars and musicians are certainly in a position to be experts on food based on their rigorous touring schedules. They have a unique opportunity to explore foods throughout the world.
I had the chance to catch up with Kenney Dale Johnson the other day about food on the road. Kenney is the gifted drummer for Chris Isaak providing a great beat along with backup vocals. He has been playing with Chris for almost 30 years. Over a span that long, we are talking a lot of gigs and travel.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to sample fare from all over the world, it’s pretty cool. I’m very adventurous.”
I asked Kenney if he has a favorite meal discovered while touring and as if to prove his adventurousness, he said, “so many I couldn’t possibly name only one. We go to Australia, Europe, all over the United States, not just the big cities and there is good food everywhere.” Kenney recalled a favorite meal in Paris “we’ve been there a million times,” where he enjoyed trying local specialties such as the sweetbreads and chittlin sausage.
When it comes to food in the United States, Kenney’s favorite is Tex-Mex. In fact, when I asked Kenney what food he misses while on tour, he said, “naturally it’s Mexican food. It’s my favorite. It’s really hard to get good Mexican food east of the Mississippi.” I asked if Kenney ever tried Mexican food in New York and his response was “I wouldn’t be searching in NY.” It might not be Mexican but Kenney does enjoy dining in New York. Two of his favorite restaurants are “Tratorria Dell Arte and Virgil’s Real Barbecue. “
Now barbecue is something Kenney really knows about being from Texas. Kenney’s favorite barbecue is “brisket and ribs.” Kenney spoke about some great barbecue he had on the road such as, “Carolina’s Mustard-based Barbecue Sauce and Blueberry-based Barbecue Sauce in Nashville.” When Kenney is home grilling he is making ribs , mostly wet, although Kenney found a great dry rub that he uses from “Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous Charcoal Ribs in Memphis.” Kenney “bought a bunch of the rub and uses it to make chicken. That place is a kick in the pants if you ever get to go there.”
Kenney got to recently spend some time in Memphis while recording “Beyond The Sun,” the album recently released by Chris Isaak and the band, as well as their new PBS special “Chris Isaak Live! Beyond The Sun”. The album is a collection of Sun cover songs from the early days of Sun Studio including Elvis Presley’s ”Can’t Help Falling in Love,” Jerry Lee Lewis’s “Great Balls of Fire,” Carl Perkins’ “Dixie Fried” and Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” just to name a few of the 36 songs on the album.
Our conversation moved on to some food trivia questions, for example is there a sandwich named Kenney Dale Johnson, if not what would it be? He confessed he had never really given it any thought, but he does know where he can find his favorite sandwiches. He likes Art’s Delicatessen on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City, CA. “It’s pretty awesome, where every sandwich is a work of art.”
When I asked if Kenney’s photo was hanging in any restaurants, Kenney’s response , “ Now it’s funny when we were making a TV show up in Vancouver there is this really cool place called “The Crab Shack”. I put my picture up there. Michael Buble` is from there and he would see the picture and go what the…. What is this doing in here?”
Well, if you see Kenney’s picture hanging up in a restaurant, you know you are in the right place, this is a guy who really knows good food when he finds it.
Here’s a list of the restaurants Kenney’s mentioned:
Trattoria Dell’Arte 900 Seventh Avenue New York, New York
Virgil’s Real Barbecue 152 West 44th Street New York, New York
Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous Charcoal Ribs 52 S 2nd Street Memphis Tennessee
Art’s Delicatessen Restaurant 12224 Ventura Blvd. Studio City , California
The Crab Shack 2464 Dollarton Highway North Vancouver British Columbia