For Jack Johnson, it's all about riding the wave. The former pro surfer decided to go into music after his friends convinced him to record the songs he'd play at beach campfires. First, he penned a tune for G. Love & Special Sauce ("Rodeo Clowns"); then, he laid down tracks for 2001's Brushfire Fairytales. The album was an unexpected hit, as much for its unusually laid-back reggaefied folk as for Johnson's Mr.-Nice-Guy-Hawaiian demeanor.
Not much changed with last year's On and On, which repeats the groovy, summer-afternoon feel of his debut on the hit "The Horizon Has Been Defeated" and the reflective "Traffic in the Sky." There are no rock-star permutations in Johnson's live show; even as his popularity has skyrocketed, he's kept his cool, and his concerts have the intimate feel of the seaside barbecues that used to be his performance spaces. While he's playing, he'll veer from a loose jam on one of his originals to a cover of a Jimmy Buffett song or, on a whim, take a request for Bob Marley's "Stir It Up." His old friend G. Love is opening for Johnson at the Tower City Amphitheater on Tuesday, so it's safe to expect an on-stage collaboration on "Rodeo Clowns."