Kurt Johnson

Kurt Johnson - Guitar & Pedal Steel

Kurt Johnson is a multi-instrumentalist, session musician, composer, and educator based in Rochester, New York.  Though he has been teaching privately for nearly a decade, Kurt continues to be a dedicated student of contemporary, traditional, and ethnic music.  Kurt began playing drums in the 4th grade, and soon after began playing the guitar.  In 2000, he began an intense study of British blues guitar and jazz piano with Alfred University faculty Ken Maracek and Peter O’Connor, respectively.  Kurt has since continued jazz guitar studies with Bob Sneider (Eastman School of Music), Craig Snyder (Finger Lakes Community College), and Mike Denny (University of Oregon).


In 2008, Kurt dedicated the year to studying Hindustani North Indian Classical Music with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan at the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, California.  He focused on the melodicism and rhythmic elements of traditional Indian music, applying them to the Hindustani slide guitar, vocals, and tabla.

Kurt has also studied pedal steel and dobro with Gordon Stone, and the African mbira with Zimbabwean mbira master Musekiwa Chingodza.  He continues to study and perform mbira music with Mbira dzeMugomo Guru (The Eastman Mbira Group).  Over the past several years, Kurt has taken master classes with various jazz legends including David Liebman, Slide Hampton, and David Baker, as well as with contemporary music giants like Kenny Werner, David Friesen, Fred Hamilton, and Corey Christiansen.

As with any artistic endeavor, the issue of “genre” and “classification” arises.  As a passionate learner and current student in the academic field of Ethnomusicology, Kurt does not limit himself, or those he teaches or performs with, to the confines of a specific genre.  He recognizes the healing properties of music and approaches music as the ultimate place of creativity.  He views music as a universal language - an ever-evolving Lingua Franca.

He is dedicated to achieving a sense of community, both locally and globally, through the language of music.  Kurt constantly strives to bring sincerity and a fresh perspective to his musical experiences. This is often achieved by employing unorthodox methods to coax new sounds from his instruments.

Lessons with Kurt involve an in-depth approach to finding one’s own voice with their instrument.  This is achieved through music theory, ear training, technique, improvisation, repertoire, and, most importantly, finding one’s personal musical philosophy.

Kurt can be found performing regularly throughout the Northeast, most often with the Rochester based “symphonic power-trio”, The Moho Collective.  He is also co-composing the score for an original children’s musical, Once in a Blue Moon, due to be debuted in Boston in 2012.