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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Jan Johansson - Heart of Gold

Posted October 31, 2008 9:09 a.m. EDT

He is well known for his heart of gold. Now he needs some help with it.

I first met Jan Johansson a dozen years ago. We played together on a benefit album engineered by one of my music gurus and friends Bill McDonald. I was immediately struck by Jan's kind and gentle spirit. I was also struck by his marvelous musicianship and fascinating life story.

Jan, pronounced YAHN, was born in Sweden 50 years ago. By his 18th birthday he had mastered the fiddle, guitar and mandolin. He became a huge bluegrass fan with the legendary Bill Monroe emerging as his hero. In 1989 Jan married Theresa Blue of Carthage and moved to the US. Since then he has taught hundreds of students how to play his favorite instruments and to share his joy of bluegrass, folk and country music. Jan has also excelled as an artist himself while playing in several accomplished bands including the Pisgah Pickers, the Backsliders and New Vintage.

Jan has been battling heart problems for many years. He was struck by a massive heart attack at age 36 and that was followed by triple bypass surgery and the installation of a pacemaker. Unfortunately, Jan is once again experiencing heart problems and the medical bills are piling up.

A group called Circle of Friends is coming to Jan's rescue. The group is presenting a benefit concert Sunday, November 2 from 1:00PM until 5:00PM at the Bond Park amphitheatre in Cary. Some outstanding musicians will perform including legendary bluegrass fiddle player Bobby Hicks and a host of others. Money raised will help pay Jan's medical bills.

If you'd like more information check out the Pinecone web site at www.pinecone.org