Johnathan Rice (born May 27, 1983) is a Scottish-American singer-songwriter. His first album, Trouble is Real, was released on Reprise Records on April 26, 2005. His follow up, Further North, was released by Reprise on September 11, 2007. He has also worked as a producer on Jenny Lewis' Acid Tongue (2008) and as a session and live musician with Elvis Costello (2008's Momofuku). As of 2010, he performs with Lewis, as Jenny and Johnny.
Before graduating from high school in 2001, Rice befriended Chris Keup, a Virginian singer songwriter and self-styled A&R man. Keup produced Rice's first known recordings, the six song Heart and Mind EP, which was recorded in Charlottesville, V.A. with engineer Stewart Myers and then informally released on Keup's own Grantham Dispatch Records.
Rice moved from Virginia to New York City at the age of eighteen with 1,000 copies of the Heart and Mind EP and the intention of launching his career as a singer/songwriter. He arrived in New York two days before the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Imagery of the attacks and their aftermath appear in the lyrics of several of the songs on Trouble Is Real, including "City on Fire", "Put Me in Your Holy War", and "Salvation Day".
Rice played small folk clubs in Manhattan and Brooklyn, most notably playing regular sets at the Living Room at its original location on Stanton St., and built a live following that lead to headlining performances at its revamped Ludlow St. location. Rice lived in an apartment in Mid-town Manhattan and worked different jobs to pay the rent, all the while writing the songs that would make up his debut album.
Rice's EP caught the attention of A&R man Perry Watts-Russell, who had just left Capitol Records to begin working at Warner Bros. Records. He flew Rice out to Los Angeles, where he auditioned for Watts-Russell and label head Tom Whalley. Rice was subsequently offered a record deal with the company.
After several attempts at making Trouble is Real, Rice enlisted Mike Mogis, the producer of Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley, and The Faint. The album was recorded over five weeks in Lincoln, Nebraska. The two worked alongside string arranger Nate Walcott to create a rich, diverse sound for the album, with most songs leading into one another as a single work of music. The album was finally released on April 26, 2005.
The album failed to break into the charts but was a favorite of TV music-supervisors, leading to high profile appearances of songs on The OC (Rice's song "So Sweet" is featured on the OC Mix 2) and Grey's Anatomy.
Rice has cited Neil Young, Gram Parsons, Colin Blunstone, Spoon, Pixies, and Pavement among his influences.
Rice toured Trouble Is Real extensively, mostly as a support act for acts such as Jesse Harris, Mason Jennings, Starsailor, Martha Wainwright, Jenny Lewis and REM. The group, introduced to Rice's music through guitarist Peter Buck selected him to support them in London's Hyde Park in July 2005 in front of a crowd of 80,000 people. Rice played the concert with his touring band, Death Valley, a lap steel and harmony group that featured Neal Casal (who would go on to found the Cardinals with Ryan Adams), and "Farmer" Dave Scher of the Beachwood Sparks and All Night Radio.
Rice's appearance at the Hyde Park concert and another performance at the 100 Club are captured on film in the 2005 documentary Johnathan Rice and Death Valley: Live in London.
Extended Player 24:26 (EP) 2004
Trouble Is Real 2005
A Girl Called Miami EP (itunes only) 2007
Further North 2007
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