Johnny Dilks & His Visitacion Valley Boys

b. 1972, San Mateo, California, USA. As a youngster Dilks took an interest in music, opting for playing guitar in a punk rock band while still in school. Given a collection of country music records by…
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Artist Biography

b. 1972, San Mateo, California, USA. As a youngster Dilks took an interest in music, opting for playing guitar in a punk rock band while still in school. Given a collection of country music records by an aunt, he planned to sell it but was persuaded not only to keep and listen to it, but also to expand it. Among artists for whom he has expressed admiration, and who have in some instances been an influence, are singers from country and soul, such as Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bill Monroe, Otis Redding, Porter Wagoner and Hank Williams, as well as guitarists Oscar Aléman and Django Reinhardt. He was in his late teens before he abandoned punk, having meanwhile begun playing in a rockabilly band. He studied guitar with Jim Campilongo, then formed his own western swing band, the Rhythm Wranglers, that gained a following in and around San Francisco. This band later became the Rhythm Rustlers and then the Visitacion Valley Boys. As lead singer and guitarist of the latter band he attracted special attention. Unable to play music full time, Dilks worked as an antique restorer but in 1997 he and the band were hired to back Charlie Louvinduring a trip to the area.

In 1999, Dilks signed with HighTone Records and his debut, Acres Of Heartache, won very high praise and sold well. Members of the Visitacion Valley Boys at the time of this date were, Brian Godchaux, who was in Dilks’ first band (fiddle/mandolin), Paul Wooton (guitar), Billy Wilson (steel guitar), Brendan Ryan (bass), and Pat Campbell (drums). Dilks demonstrated his awareness of and respect for traditional country music at a time when success seemed to be achievable only if the music was updated to accommodate pop and rock and a gloss that belied the music’s origins.