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Known for his  honky-tonk and rockabilly performances, Johnny Falstaff's music spans many genres.

Featured Article

Johnny's Back in Town

Fresh from a Stint in Europe, Singer-Songwriter Johnny Falstaff is Seizing the Moment

Johnny Falstaff is always moving. “I cannot stand to sit still, it drives me up the wall.”  The long and lean country music performer, who for decades has been known for his suave vocals, guitar-picking precision and clever lyrics, has quickly settled into being home again in Texas after living in Dresden, Germany. 

He intended to take some time off once he got here, to recalibrate and ponder the future. “It sounds so poetic,” he muses, “but it didn’t even come close to happening.” Friends started calling and gigs started happening. “That was 3 days after I got home, and it’s been non-stop ever since!”

Though often associated with honky-tonk, Falstaff’s musical style defies pinning down. Listen to his most recent album, “Lost in the City Lights,” and you’ll find him equally at home when crooning a moody ballad, belting out a rockabilly tune, or performing the straightforward, honest vocals of traditional country. 

Falstaff enjoys the mix of genres. Someday, he’d like to explore the idea of performing with a full orchestra. “Imagine Frank Sinatra singing a country song!” 

Born in Alice, Falstaff lived in Alvin as a child. He grew up on the classic country of that era, with its electric guitars, base drums and pedal steel guitar, sung by the likes of Conway Twitty and Buck Owens. At around the age of 10, he was introduced to the “countrypolitan” sound, exemplified by Ray Price--a smoother, mellower style, making use of a wider range of instrumentation. An evolution of the “Nashville sound,” countrypolitan bridged the gap between country and pop in the 1970s. “It was a completely different vibe, and it reached out and grabbed me,” he says.

Falstaff has been a successful recording artist and a fan favorite for many years, starting his own band in the 1990s, ultimately going solo and releasing his first album in the early 2000s. He performed often in Houston and toured across the U.S. Then in 2015 he traveled to Germany and ended up staying. He discovered a thriving country music scene and a loyal German fan base. They were true aficionados, and they kept him on his toes. “It’s really amazing. They would come up to me after a gig and say things like, ‘You play that song so well, and so-and-so recorded that and played guitar with this amp in 1957.’ They would know more about a song than we do!” 

He spent 15 years in Germany, singing and playing his way across Europe, from Switzerland to Italy to Spain, exploring the cultures he encountered along the way.  On one occasion, he was performing at a festival in northern Italy. On a break, he left the festival grounds and walked into a mom and pop café, “and this gal comes up, ‘Oh, you’re a country artist. Are you hungry? My mom made this lasagna last night.’” He sat there and savored the first non-tomato, Bechamel-style lasagna he had ever tasted, while back in the kitchen the grandmother was handmaking more pasta. It was a perfect scene, and the memory is still crystal clear to him. 

While on a visit back to the U.S. in 2020, Falstaff discovered a swollen lymph node in his neck. After several pandemic-related flight delays, he was able to return to Germany to have it examined. It turned out to be cancer. He went through chemo and radiation, and a year later, at the conclusion of treatment, he was declared cancer-free. 

“It’s a freak-out when you’re first diagnosed,” he recalls. “You Google it: Half of the results say you’re going to die, and half are hopeful, people who come out stronger and better than they were before. You run across somebody who puts out a video, who had the exact same thing, and it shows you how they came through. It gives you that thing to hold onto to help you through it.” Inspired by those videos, and hoping to help anyone else facing the fear of dealing with a cancer diagnosis, Falstaff created a series of videos of his own treatment that can still be found on Youtube. 

Since his return to Texas in the fall of 2021, Falstaff’s schedule has been packed. He’s playing gigs across the state, making stops at well-known Houston venues such as the Continental Club, Cowboy Surfer and McGonigel’s Mucky Duck. He’s in New Orleans throughout April and returns to Texas next month, playing here in The Woodlands on May 14th at the Dosey Doe location on Research Forest. He’s also in the process of shooting a music video. 

With so much on his plate, finding time for songwriting is tricky. “I have to seize a quiet moment here and there.” Nevertheless, he has a whole album’s worth of songs that he’s “dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s on” so that he can get into the studio and start recording.

On top of all this, Falstaff writes screenplays too, first catching the screenwriting bug in 2010 on the B-movie thriller, “Honky Tonk Blood,” the title inspired by a song of his that goes by the same name. He co-wrote the script, and the movie premiered at the River Oaks Theatre. “I’ve written numerous short films” he says, and he has many more ideas in his head, “but Holy Smokes, there’s only so much time in a day!”

“Lost in the City Lights” was released in 2020, just as the world was beginning to shut down due to COVID. As with other musical artists, his ability to showcase the album through touring was placed on hold, and he relied on social media and other online resources to promote it. Though the album was successful, he missed the human element. “There’s nothing like getting out there, shaking hands, sharing a drink and DNA with people.” 

Now, “I’m back in the states to stay,” says Falstaff. He’d like to travel and perform in Europe again, but Texas is home. On his to-do list are a few states out west that he has yet to explore--Montana, the Dakotas, Wyoming—their expansiveness and solitude quite different from the busy urban setting he called home for the last many years. “Dresden is a pretty big city. I was living in a flat over the street car tracks. Hustle and bustle all the time.” Now, living in Brazoria County in the town of Liverpool, “with a grand population of 550 people,” Falstaff savors the contrast. “We used to have a caution light here, then it broke, and they just took it down.”

Sometime in the future, says Falstaff, he’d like to take a break. But even the prospect of a bit of well-deserved downtime is full of plans: “One of these days really soon, I’m taking a sabbatical. I have things I want to finish up and things I want to start.

  • Known for his  honky-tonk and rockabilly performances, Johnny Falstaff's music spans many genres.
  • Falstaff's “Lost in the City Lights” was released in 2020.