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Virtuoso Jacob Johnson Releases Allman Brothers Classic “Jessica”

Experience the soulful rendition of the iconic Allman Brothers classic, “Jessica,” by rising virtuoso Jacob Johnson.

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Jacob Johnson, photo by Sandlin Gaither
Jacob Johnson, photo by Sandlin Gaither

Rising virtuoso Jacob Johnson has announced the June 21 release of his soul-affirming, spiritually uplifting version of “Jessica,” the iconic, transcendent Allman Brothers classic. Penned by late ABB guitarist Dickey Betts, with contributions from guitarist Les Dudek, the original composition was named after Betts’ 1-year-old daughter, who crawled into the room while the song was being workshopped.

Released in August 1973 as part of the album Brothers and Sisters, the 7-1/2-minute instrumental debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 a few months later and then in 1996, a live recording included on ‘An Evening with the Allman Brothers Band: 2nd Set’ won a Grammy for ‘Best Rock Instrumental Performance’ at the 38th Annual Grammy Awards.

With Betts’ recent passing, Johnson sees the rendition as a tribute to the great composer and musician but also in honour of his wife, who, like many other young girls in the era, was named because of it. This confluence of circumstances added to the gravity and magnitude of presenting the song respectfully while also adhering to a Southern tradition of courtship.

Johnson comments:

“It’s an unwritten rule for musicians that if your darlin’ (that’s how we say ‘significant other’ or ‘partner’ in the south) is named after a famous song, you must learn the song, and you must use it to serenade them. My wife was named after a 7-minute Allman Brothers jam, so I put together a solo/acoustic version that I later played as she danced with her dad at our wedding reception on May 31, 2019. It’s been knocking around in my head since then, and earlier this year I decided it was time to flesh out the arrangement with some collaborators.”

Johnson continues, “Of course, this entire project was created with lots of love and respect for its composer, the great Dickey Betts, who we lost not long after production was completed. If you know Southern music, you know he was one of the greats. Though I never had the opportunity to meet the man, I hope that my arrangement and attention to the details of this composition can honor his legacy in some small way.”

Since dropping out of college in 2007, Johnson has journeyed across the country in six minivans (so far), captivating audiences with his highly caffeinated brand of acoustic guitar playing, which The Florence Morning News in Florence, SC, describes as “Norman Rockwell paintings and the open road.”

This summer, he’ll play shows throughout the Southeast with a special engagement at the Chet Atkins Appreciation Society (CAAS) convention in Nashville (July 10-13), which sees 1000 Atkins fans from around the globe gather to celebrate one of the all-time greats while also participating in community building through workshops and jam sessions. In addition to his busy touring schedule, Johnson’s an adjunct guitar faculty member at North Greenville University, the college he dropped out of. “In this ol’ wide world, there’s no ’appier bloke.”

Jacob Johnson “Jessica” single artwork

Jacob Johnson “Jessica” single artwork

Lover of all things music, Vanessa De La Rosa has been involved in the music scene most of her life in different capacities. All genres welcome, she is a past master in the art of "nerding-out" with music, and is excited to explore that passion by sharing the stories of artists everywhere. Fan of: Festivals, gear, music production, all genres, supporting artists, concerts, and merch!

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