We had the good fortune of connecting with Johnnie Gilmore and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Johnnie, why did you pursue a creative career?
It really chose me more than the other way around. There are definitely easier ways to make a living, but from the first minute I played a bass I knew it was my calling, and the career part is just following that. I can’t picture doing anything else with my time and I’m so proud of the work, and I think people should do whatever makes them feel the same way.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a bass player and composer. I started playing music with piano lessons in second grade and took up trumpet and guitar as well before arriving at the bass a few months before my fifteenth birthday. After five years of gigging as a more traditional bass player, I began to find my voice as a solo artist and songwriter while studying music at Wesleyan University—think Paul McCartney’s melodicism, Stevie Wonder’s hard-edged harmony, and Victor Wooten’s technical showmanship thrown in a blender—and honed my repertoire and stagecraft as a street performer in my hometown of Boston. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2018, I’ve released two solo albums on RMI Records, toured across the U.S., and opened for living legends Stu Hamm and Fareed Haque as a solo artist; my new EP “When You Come Home” was just reviewed in Forbes. I also continue working as a sideman, including as direct support for The Wailers on their 2020 winter tour and Fantastic Negrito at the 2019 Topanga Days Festival in L.A. The main lesson I’ve learned is to just keep grinding and trust my instincts. Show business is a very up-and-down industry; sometimes you feel like the king of the world and sometimes you feel like you’re just shouting into the wind, but in hindsight neither is ever true. As Cedar Walton said, “Just stay on the path.”
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, having the best time ever is more about who you’re with than what you actually do with them. That being said, one of my favorite things about L.A. is that there’s pretty decent hiking within the city limits, and you can’t go wrong there. Downtown walking tours are a great time too, there’s so much history around DTLA (including from when the city was part of Mexico). There are some amazing Mexican food trucks here (I used to have a biweekly sideman residency at Vermont and 3rd before COVID, and there’s an awesome taco truck that parks on the northeast corner of the intersection right across the street from the venue—we used to go all the time after the gig). Of course, you could spend a whole week just going to concerts here. And as much as I hate to admit it having grown up a Red Sox fan, but Dodger Stadium is a great place to watch a baseball game.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My wonderful friends, family, and musical idols who constantly push me to be my best.