Greg Johnson's Table for Six

MIKE ALEXANDER
Last updated 09:23 26/03/2013
Greg Johnson

TABLE FOR SIX: Kurt Shanks, Mark Hughes, Lisa Crawley, Ben King, Greg Johnson, Wayne Bell and Jan Hellriegel.

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Greg Johnson has been cooking up a feast.

The Santa Monica-based Kiwi songwriter kicked off his Table For Six Tour in Auckland on Friday with six of his favourite musicians - Jan Hellriegel, Ben King, Lisa Crawley, Kurt Shanks, Wayne Bell and Mark Hughes.

''I'm the executive chef for these shows,'' Johnson says. 

''But all these guys can cook up a tune. It comes with the territory.  In the 50's all the jazz greats would cook during the day and play all night. ... you need that time in the day and when you're touring it's not there so it's unlikely we'll get to spend much time in the kitchen and the dumpy hotels we're likely to inhabit aren't really conducive either.''

If he did have to feed his flock what would it be?

''I'd do a pumpkin bacon rissotto perhaps or a big ole gumbo,'' he says. ''I learnt how to cook that from a southern friend recently. Goes well with beer in a jar.''

The musical menu is also likely to be a bit of a gumbo too.

''I like the idea of songwriter roundtables but I like 'em even better when there's a full band involved so that's what we've got,'' says Johnson whose latest album Exits will form part of the ingredients. 

''It's partly an acknowledgement of the amazing songwriting talents that have always surrounded me in the various versions of the bands I've had over the years and also a chance to hang with the brilliant Jan Hellriegel who's an old friend and hear first hand Lisa Crawley who's just joined my band for some shows and comes with a great record and a big reputation.

"It'll put the pressure on me to come up with my best tunes as well to try and match theirs.

''It's going to be lots of fun, we'll be flying by the seat of our pants. Any great degustation should use the freshest ingredients available on the day so if one of us got on the wine too much the day before, that person can play mellower tunes and leave the rockin out to the others. And there will be rockin out ... we've got Jan with us.  She's the original Westie chick!''

Although Johnson still has family back in New Zealand - he's brought his five-month old daughter Ruby for a meet and greet - it seems LA has embraced him as one of its own.

He was recently mentioned in the LA Times by columnist Steve Lopez for his song Los Angeles Belongs to You, which was thrown around in discussions about a new anthem for the city. 

More live dates here: gregjohnsonmusic.com

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