To watch Jacob Johnson play guitar is to watch someone do what he was born to do. Johnson glides up and down the fretboard with total confidence in a way that reminds one of Leo Kottke, barely looking at the instrument as he weaves delicate, dazzling melody lines with the occasional percussive thump on the strings. His sense of melody is a strong as his virtuosic playing, and his songwriting reveals a modestly bemused look at the world.
Since dropping out of college in 2007, Jacob has traveled the country in (so far) six mini-vans, honing his craft, and making friends and fans along the way. Most of these were friendly now-forgotten faces that offered a warm meal and a couch to sleep on, but some were able to offer more. Such was the case with Grammy-nominated Australian guitar legend Tommy Emmanuel. Emmanuel put Jacob, as his opening act, on such notable stages as The Birchmere in Virginia, The State Theater in Maine, and The Newberry Opera House in South Carolina.
The songs and performances that developed in those touring years became the basis for Jacob’s most recent album, “One-Take Jake”. “One-Take Jake” features 11 of Jacob’s most requested songs recorded live in-studio with no-overdubs. The songs range from his own award-winning “The Ferryboat Waltz”, to his unique take on the Disney classic “Chim-Chim Cheree” by the Sherman Brothers. Few mistakes slip through the raw, understated production, but they underscore an important truth. While his talent may seem otherworldly, it’s not magic. It’s real, which is even better.