Philadelphia Musicians Celebrate Life of Guitarist Jef Lee Johnson

Jef Lee Johnson
The late, great guitarist Jef Lee Johnson

When Jef Lee Johnson passed away in January of 2013, the Philadelphia guitarist, composer and singer left behind a legacy that touched on nearly every form of music. While locals know Johnson for his solo albums and work on records from King Britt, Phil Roy, Melody Gardot and the Roots, the guitarist made his bones doing session work with D’Angelo, Billy Joel, Jeff Beck, George Duke, Roberta Flack, Erykah Badu, Esperanza Spalding, and The World's Most Dangerous Band from Late Night with David Letterman. Tonight, Wednesday, June 26, at 8:00 PM (door at 7:00 PM), Johnson’s friends and musical family remember him with The Rainbow Crow: A Tribute to Jef Lee Johnson at Underground Arts (1200 Callowhill St., Phila PA).

Grammy Award winning producer Aaron Luis Levinson was a longtime best friend and stalwart collaborator of Johnson’s, playing with the guitarist, as well as overseeing his solo albums such as 2008’s Rediscovering Lonnie Johnson. It makes perfect sense that Levinson would gather Johnson’s creative family, not only to celebrate his music, but to raise endowment money for the Jef Lee Johnson Scholarship at the Germantown branch of the Settlement School of Music.

“June 26th would have been Jef's 55th birthday,” says Levinson. “We are all doing what we can to ensure that his unique legacy as an artist is perpetuated in every way imaginable.” Some of the musicians joining Levinson for the tribute are Tim Motzer, Chico Huff, Charlie Patierno, Kevin Hansen, Erik Johnson, Jamaaladeen Tacuma, Adam Guth, Lili Anel and Jim Miller.

Tickets are $20; for more information:

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Photo by Andrew Harkins, courtesy of Aaron Luis Levinson