Look Around Mississippi - Old Friends Reunite - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

February 7, 2006

Look Around Mississippi - Old Friends Reunite

By Walt Grayson
walt@wlbt.net

It's old friend week. Old friends and old, and new times. It's almost a flashback to the 60s and 70s when Johnny Barranco and Mitchell Malouf get together to do a recording project.

Johnny has had a phenomenal career as a commercial singer, Mitchell one of the co-founders of Malaco Records, but that was a while back. Now, its old friends getting together again to do something new again. 

 Barranco gives us a sample of one of the songs from his latest CD. The song is "Quittin' Time." the cd "Deep Praises".

Christian music isn't what Johnny started out playing. Barranco says, "With Mitchell and I, it goes way back. He was the first guy to book me and my band, a band called the Crackerjacks. We played out at the Zodiac. Then I moved to New York City and I was on the road to with Barry Manilow. That's when my jingle career started. I did his Mandy album. Then I went on to do the all the jingles that you know that I've done; the "Be all that you can be," "N E S T L E S," "What's the best tuna," all those kinds of things."

But over time, life happens. Mitchell left Malaco in 1975 and now runs the Frisco Deli in Pearl. He and Johnny got back together during the time just after Mitchell's wife died. Meanwhile, the Barranco's were dealing with a serious illness in their family. Its those kinds of things that come along in life that can either beat you down or build you stronger. Depending on how you take them. 

Johnny Barranco says, "Because Jesus was really present in the valleys of our life right there. So strong and prevalent. I have always experienced Christ but I never knew how much he loved me, and he knew me, until I was walking in this valley and he was right with me." 

Meanwhile, after Mitchell's wife passed away, he was in Nashville. Music city. And old stirrings started way down inside.

Malouf says, "We stopped at an old record store all they had was old records and I went through and saw some old stuff that we had recorded. Some old cds and the old Paul Simon album, just God…the bug got into me then shortly after Johnny came by to visit and I ask him to take some of these words and make something out of them."

From that has emerged a new label and a new cd. Who would have ever thought that it would have ever come to this all those years ago from teen-age rock and roll bands playing at teen-age hang outs in Jackson for Mitch and Johnny to be recording music together again?

Gone so far to come back full circle on the other side of the road.

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