Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Review: JESSE JP JOHNSON Delivers Some SWEET SWEET LOVIN at The Green Room 42

pixeltracker

Jesse JP Johnson is a Singer with Heart

BWW Review: JESSE JP JOHNSON Delivers Some SWEET SWEET LOVIN at The Green Room 42

When you first see Jesse JP Johnson (Wicked, Spongebob Squarepants, Glory Days,) you think you are about to get some forthright, crooning, suburban boy-band action. He comes in a package complete with chinos, a patterned shirt, and tall blond hair that looks like the newest New Kid on the Block. But then he sings. And what comes out is not that at all. It is a soulful sound, stratospherically high, that is informed by generations of blues singers. Jesse JP Johnson is no bubble gum pretender. He is the real thing.

His show SWEET SWEET LOVIN', which opened last night at The Green Room 42, celebrates the release of his single of the same name on Spotify and all other major platforms. Johnson is a gifted songwriter who returns often to the same theme, love: how to get it, how to hold onto it, and how to make it the center of your world. In a program that included not only his own great tunes but covers by Harry Nillson, Amy Winehouse, Otis Redding, Lake Street Dive, Patty Griffin, and The Allman Brothers, he returned again and again to the idea of putting the focus on the one you love. He didn't play Boq for nothing. This man has heart.BWW Review: JESSE JP JOHNSON Delivers Some SWEET SWEET LOVIN at The Green Room 42

"Sweet Sweet Lovin'" is a seductive, sexy tune that is a promise to always be there. For my money, "Set Me on Fire" shows Johnson at his best. It is a straightforward rocker that shows off his high notes and his talent for getting straight to the emotional core of the lyric. I was also very fond of "You Got Me Dancing'," "Stay," and "Take It Slow." His song "What Could Be Better" had a truly inspired modulation in the middle that made everyone in the room sit up and take notice.

As for the cover songs, I've always been a fan of "Everybody's Talking'. It was constantly on the radio when I was a kid and it accompanied many a road trip with my dad. Johnson had a great take on it, turning it into a rock tune with some harder edges than the original. He found some wonderful inner life in Patty Griffin's "Love, Throw a Line." "Cry to Me" had great doo-wop energy and "Midnight Rider" by the Allman Brothers was the perfect opening song. He saved the best for last, pulling out all the stops on Amy Winehouse's "Valerie,' his self-described karaoke song.

His band was particularly good. Lou Garrett, Mark Verdino, and Sean McDaniel are first-rate musicians who provided solid support for Johnson's soaring style. They were featured in that finest of blues standards, "Kansas City" each taking wonderful and creative solos. I can't wait to see what Jesse JP Johnson comes up with when Broadway opens again. In the meantime, here's hoping the hiatus gives him time to write more and more of his own material. Keep an eye on him.BWW Review: JESSE JP JOHNSON Delivers Some SWEET SWEET LOVIN at The Green Room 42

For more information on Jesse JP Johnson, visit jessejpjohnson.com. Get "Sweet Sweet Lovin'" on Spotify and other streaming platforms. To find more great artists at The Green Room 42, go to greenfignyc.com.


Related Articles View More Cabaret Stories

Featured on Stage Door

Shoutouts, Classes & More

From This Author Ricky Pope