Home > Community > In Our Community > KV - Why I'm Here > Johannes Linstead, Extraordinario Músico

joh 16 resizedJohannes Linstead is a world-class guitar virtuoso who was born in and still lives in Oakville, right here in Kerr Village. And although he has travelled the globe and had countless articles written about him, no one knows how old he really is!

Johannes Linstead header

Those who live in the Kerr Village neighbourhood cannot help but observe the changes that are under way transforming the area into a more and more diverse collection of businesses, services and entrepreneurs. While some enterprises come and go, others thrive and consistently receive both support and accolades from their loyal and diverse patrons and customers.

What brings these varied services and businesses to Kerr Village? WRRA Board Member Sandy Moshenko decided to find out through a series of interviews with interesting people doing interesting things in the neighbourhood.

DSC0631 fixed framed - for web

Johannes Linstead is not simply a resident of Kerr Village: he is a citizen of the world whose enduring home base is in Oakville in the neighbourhood where he was born.

And Johannes is not simply an award winning guitarist and composer; he's also a comedian. In an interview with him in January 2015 when he called from the Dominican Republic I inquired – discreetly, I thought - about the years in which he had attended Westwood School. He firmly replied that he NEVER revealed his age and that it was so secret that even his parents don't know how old he is!

These facts, however, are certain:

joh fixedJohannes was born in Oakville, the younger of two children (he has an older sister). He attended Westwood School (where the Dog Guides centre is now housed), Morden School and Blakelock High School. His interest in music was spawned when he received his first guitar at age eight. His father had introduced him to classical music and Johannes became focused on the compositional aspects of that music. In fact, he remembers composing his first pieces at a very early age, and by the time he entered high school he was dedicated to mastering the guitar and composition.

When I asked what advice he might have for beginning guitarists who aspire to the mastery he displays, his recommendation was straightforward: practice, practice, practice. So dedicated was Johannes in his teens that he played his guitar six to eight hours a day, even while maintaining regular attendance and participation in the school orchestra and jazz band.

joh 8 framed - for web

Accolades came early in his career: in high school he was named Jazz Band Musician of the Year (1988). He is now a member of the Blakelock High School Hall of Fame. Upon graduation from high school, Johannes decided on a career as a rock star. Despite a love for the music and fascination with such rock guitarists as Eddie van Halen and Steve Vai (who played in Frank Zappa's band), Johannes found that he did not fit in with the lifestyle of drinking and drugs that seemed to go along with rock ‘n' roll. At an age when most youth experiment with intoxicants. Johannes instead turned to music for a natural high. To this day he never touches alcohol or intoxicants – not even coffee!

He describes himself as a person who has always lived his life in his own way and his life took a turn in the early 90’s to one that included the study of Yoga and Kung Fu. Along with his dedication to guitar and composition, meditative practice is now integral to his life and his music.

Travel has also been a significant part of his life and the inspiration for his music. His compositions reveal the musical influences of the Caribbean, Spain, Cuba and Africa and evoke an enthusiasm and vibrancy that is contagious. If the music of Johannes Linstead was a virus it would create an epidemic! At a recent sold out performance at the Oakville Centre, not a single person in the audience could resist the warmth and infectious rhythm of the music from Linstead and his band – percussion, piano, accordion, violin, guitar and bass.

Johannes  group framed - for web

When he is not travelling the world and sharing his music with an international audience, Johannes divides his time between the Dominican Republic, where he leads Yoga retreats, and his home in Kerr Village. While Linstead is not entirely thrilled with the changes occurring in Oakville, he feels that his corner of the community has echoes of the small town in which he grew up. The proximity to the lake, the library, the creek, good restaurants and many opportunities to walk are some of the features that keep him in the area. When he is in Oakville he is often found performing in the region – he is a regular at both the Beaches and Oakville Jazz Festivals – and on Sundays leading yoga classes.

While many adjectives can describe Linstead’s music – dynamic, enthusiastic, energetic, vibrant – the one that fits best is joyous. Even the more melancholy music has a joyous theme that prevails. So for an experience guaranteed to lift your spirits, make time to listen to a tune or two, or better still take in one of Linstead’s performances. He might just inspire you to pick up that discarded guitar again.

And you might even figure out how old he is.

Midnight Rhumba cover mixed

For more information about Johannes Linstead, his many accomplishments and upcoming performances check his website at:www.johanneslinstead.com.

Yamaha Guitars Influential Artist
#1 on eMusic.com Jazz/Blues charts
#1 on eMusic.com World Music charts
#1 on eMusic.com Flamenco/Tango charts
#1 on Amazon mp3 Latin Music sales rank
"World Artist of the Year" T.O.M.A Awards
"Guitarist of the Year" Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards
Six "Top Ten" Billboard-charting albums
Six "Best Album" awards
JUNO nomination

For information about Johannes Linstead and his Yoga teaching see: www.divineearth.org.