Sebastian’s local band, “Robert Johnson and the Mojo Commotion,” features an exceptional talent, Rob Johnson. Not only is he a part of the band, but he’s also been the host of over 450 “Open Mic” sessions, where he invites local musicians to perform at various venues in Sebastian, Florida.
Sebastian Daily, known for showcasing local musicians with its news publication, decided to learn more about Johnson’s musical journey. Each musician carries a fascinating, unique story; Johnson was no exception.
Johnson’s interest in music began in his youth, with his fondness for classic rock. “In my parents’ attic, there was a guitar. It always intrigued me,” he recalled. His musical journey formally began in 1987 when he bought a cheap acoustic guitar at a yard sale in Vero Beach. This purchase pushed him to take a music elective at Indian River Community College (IRCC) in 1988 as part of his journalism/art program.
“In the class, we got through Mel Bay’s 1st-grade book, which provided music theory,” he told Sebastian Daily.
Fast forward to 1993, while in Memphis, Tennessee, Johnson met a talented blues guitarist, “Bluesman” Sid Selvidge. Selvidge gave him some lessons, and Johnson decided to upgrade his instrument to a Martin acoustic guitar bought from a pawn shop.
Though he briefly put his musical interests aside, Johnson found his passion reignited in 2005 when he met “Skydive Pete,” who helped start what is known today as Skydive Sebastian. Pete’s encouragement to play stirred Johnson’s love for performance, reminding him of the joy that music can bring to others.
“So, I never really focused on music because of life’s other diversions. But, I kept working on songs I liked and hoped to play someday,” Johnson explained.
He got his first break in 2009 when a neighbor, who owned a bar, heard Johnson’s music emanating from his garage. It led to Johnson’s first paid gig at Morrissey’s, the neighbor’s pub.
After suffering a motorcycle crash on a track in Birmingham, Alabama, in 2011, a hobby he held alongside his music, Johnson reassessed his priorities. He decided to invest more time into his guitar during his recovery period.
“Since then, I have started a handful of bands and run a few jams around the Sebastian bars,” Johnson said. “In early 2015, I started the Open Mic on Wednesday nights at Pareidolia Brewing Company. This gig has been ongoing since that time. Amazingly that would be in the ballpark of 450 Open Mics,” Johnson said.
Like many musicians, Johnson took a hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic. A few months into the pandemic, Pareidolia Brewing Company constructed a temporary stage on a trailer for outdoor performances. Given the popularity of these performances, they decided to build a permanent one, aptly named the Sunset Stage.
Johnson can be found every Wednesday, between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., at the Pareidolia Brewing Company in Sebastian. Be sure to stop in and say hello!