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Jack Johnson comes home


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POSTED: Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jack Johnson, home-grown and the most reticent of “;rock stars,”; is making up for not staging a Kokua Festival this year by staging two exclusive screenings of a new tour documentary, as well as acoustic sets at the intimate Hawaii Theatre next month.

The news about the shows is being released today, the day of the release of “;Jack Johnson en Concert,”; a DVD documentary about Johnson's European leg of last year's successful “;Sleep Through the Static”; world tour. (A separate CD of overall live tour recordings is also coming out today.)

In a phone interview Friday, Johnson said the November shows — the only ones supporting the DVD/CD release — will help raise funds for the education-directed Kokua Hawaii Foundation, as well as the Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation, which provides endowments to his favorite environmental charities. All profits from his 2008 tour and sales of the DVD/CD are being directed in the same manner.

“;And we're still in the works for next year's festival,”; he added. “;But for now I want to keep these shows mainly for Hawaii residents. I'm sorry that it might be a little humbug for people to drive to the theater downtown to buy their tickets at the box office.”;

“;Jack Johnson en Concert,”; directed by Emmett Malloy — Johnson's co-manager and longtime surf filmmaking partner — shows how Johnson's heartfelt songs and positive attitude has garnered millions of adoring fans far from his North Shore home.

               

     

 

JACK JOHNSON WITH ZACH GILL

        » Place: Hawaii Theatre, 1130 Bethel St.
       

» When: 8 p.m. Nov. 13 and 14

       

» Tickets: $50, $75, $100 and $125, available starting at noon next Tuesday (Kokua Hawaii Foundation members will have the first opportunity to purchase their tickets from 10 a.m. to noon that day with proof of membership)

       

» Info: 528-0506

       

“;I usually don't get too involved with what Emmett and his crew were shooting,”; Johnson said. “;He chose the European leg because of the cool scenery between the tour stops.”; These include impressionistic passages of Paris, Berlin and Newquay, a seaside resort in Cornwall, England, a spot special to Johnson.

“;It's also a surf town. The first time we played in Europe, we found out that it was the biggest surfing community there, so we've gone back every time since then. I usually walk into the surf shop and rent a wet suit and surfboard when we're there.”;

THE NEWQUAY SEGMENT is a highlight of the documentary. Cold, high winds cause the concert's cancellation, but the show goes on the following night before a relatively small but enthusiastic crowd of about 2,000 and features a meditative performance of “;Constellations.”;

While the film has guest appearances by G. Love, Mason Jennings, Matt Costa, Neil Halstead and Ben Harper, more attention is paid to Johnson and his interplay with his longtime band mates Merlo Podlewski and Adam Topol, and especially Zach Gill.

In one moment in the film, Gill says he feels for Johnson and all the pressure put on him while on tour, so he acts as his release valve by playing a visual comic foil to Johnson onstage, and also reminding him how great it is that they're able to play the music that they love before all these people.

“;Zach is someone I met during my first weeks in college (at the University of California at Santa Barbara). We were both 18 and had left living under the wings of our parents. We came to find out that not only did we have a common love for music, but that we were also born on the same day (May 18), so we connected pretty quickly,”; Johnson said.

“;When my music started happening and I was being pushed by record labels to sign, he was pretty full-on with his band the Animal Liberation Orchestra. So Merlo, Adam and I were rolling along, until Zach played with us on a couple of songs on the third album and then played live with us. By then the three of us agreed that the band sounded so much better with him. Since then I think Zach helped us keep the touring experience a fun one.”;

Johnson and Gill also traveled with their families in tow throughout Europe.

“;It kind of doubled as a family vacation, as well as an extended education for the kids. Even though, right now, they're pretty young, my oldest boy enjoyed visiting the natural history museums, and seeing all the art in Barcelona. Zach's daughter is a little older than my boys, so we all made a day of it whenever we could. It's nice to have the kids around, although we don't have the luxury of sleeping in late after a big night. They certainly motivate you to wake up early.”;

Overall, Johnson is still bemused by his skyrocketing success abroad.

“;On our early tours, I still remember how really fun it was to play, like, a teeny, smoky club in Germany. At that time we went from playing a club that just held 200 in Paris to doing an outdoor show before 10,000 in San Diego the following week.

“;I guess things took off in Europe when I was on the Brit Awards show in 2006 and I won for International Breakthrough Artist. In the midst of this huge production, I just went out onstage with just my guitar, sat on a stool and played. Apparently, that was the thing that enabled me and my music to take off. After that, everything in Europe grew big-size.

“;It's always been wild to tour there, but now more so, so I just try to roll with it. It's fun and confusing at the same time,”; he said.

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The “;Jack Johnson en Concert”; film trailer and special offers surrounding the DVD and CD can be seen at www.jackjohnsonmusic.com. A review of the CD version will be in Friday's HiLife section.