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Johnny Wheels and the Swamp Donkeys will play at Estacada establishment this month

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Johnny Wheels and the Swamp Donkeys will play at The Viewpoint later this month.

Johnny Wheels and the Swamp Donkeys will soon stop by Estacada. The band will take the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, at The Viewpoint at 20189 S. Springwater Road.

The group consists of Johnny Kennicott on harmonica and vocals, Michael Rabe on guitar and vocals, Taylor Frazier on bass and Doug Knoyle on drums. The Estacada News spoke to Kennicott about the band, their influences and playing live shows.

Estacada News: How did you become interested in music?

Johnny Kennicott: My father was a musician. At ages 2 and 3, he was putting instruments in my hand and taking me to band practice with him. He passed away when I was 6 and left me with that memory. I wanted to stay connected to my father.

EN: How would you describe the band's sound?

JK: Soul music. We're true R&B, soul, blues and rock 'n' roll. If you've ever listened to Albert King, you'd hear what we're like.

EN: Who are some of your influences?

JK: The band KISS is my biggest influence in the entire world. There are a lot of blues people like Etta James, Buddy Guy and Muddy Waters, and rock like Motley Crue and Judas Priest. There's a range of classic rock, soul and R&B that we put together.

EN: What's your songwriting process like?

JK: It's a work in progress. We present an idea and work from there. We're new to writing songs as a band.

EN: What are some of your favorite songs to cover?

JK: It changes from night to night. We really like a couple of Buddy Guy tunes.

EN: What's the most rewarding part of playing a live show?

JK: Being able to connect with people. Pulling on people's heartstrings and making them feel good when they don't necessarily feel good. You can connect with people on a personal level without shaking their hand.

EN: What do you enjoy most about playing at The Viewpoint?

JK: The people there are some of my great friends. Seeing friends and making new fans who come to see us is cool. It's a beautiful setting.

EN: Tell us about some of your favorite memories with the band.

JK: We played at the Waterfront Blues Festival this year. We were part of a Journey to Memphis set. We didn't win, but it was cool to be in that environment.

During one show, I fell out of my wheelchair in the middle of a song. I was leaning to pick something up. It was embarrassing, but quite funny.

This last year we've been coming together and making things happen, like playing at the blues festival. It's hard to just pick one thing.

EN: What's the best part of being a musician?

JK: It's the only thing that makes me feel good in life. The whole thing in general is quite magical. You get to be a character. You don't necessarily have to be yourself.

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