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Pioneer Profiles: Homegrown musician joins Johnny Holm Band

BEMIDJI - Jake Jackson likes AC/DC.

The song "TNT" holds a particularly warm spot in his heart, and for good reason - it quite possibly got him a spot in the Midwest-beloved Johnny Holm Band playing guitar and providing vocals full-time.

Hall's Guide Service, the first band Jackson was in beginning with a Halloween show at the Armory building in Bemidji back in 2005, was an acoustic funk and improvisational group. One of the first songs he performed with HGS was "TNT," and when the Johnny Holm Band came to Bemidji to play at Memorial Hall on the Bemidji State University campus where he was attending classes, Jackson was, of course, an enthusiastic participating audience member.

"Johnny Holm always had people come up to sing, and I went up and sang 'TNT,'" Jackson said, "and he liked it, and he told me if I was ever looking for work, to give him a call."

Four years went by after that fateful meeting, and Jackson had moved to Minneapolis by then, a struggling college graduate trying to make ends meet.

"I heard that Johnny Holm was playing across the street from where I was playing, and so I borrowed $5 from one of my friends who I was working with so I could get into the show, and I just kind of kept bugging (Holm) until he gave me the job," Jackson laughed.

The Johnny Holm band is one of the most recognizable bands in the Midwest, touring the five-state area and beyond year round. To be the guitarist for the group is quite a feat, and Jackson credits his introduction to guitar to his Bemidji High School band teachers, who encouraged him to try instruments other than his original instrument, the saxophone.

"(Janet Weaver and Derek Wickum) always gave us the freedom to experiment with different things," Jackson said.

Jackson then began taking guitar lessons from Lou Samsa of Bemidji.

"He introduced me to my favorite guitar players and showed me all the stuff I'm still using today," Jackson said.

Although the Johnny Holm Band currently is touring outside north central Minnesota, Hall's Guide Service will soon have a reunion show at Brigid's Cross Irish Pub. Drummer Andy Clemenson, bassist Luke Kuha and keyboardist James McKeown will convene at 7 p.m. Saturday, performing old tunes and new improv, and - hopefully - "TNT" by AC/DC.

Jackson just began production for his first solo album, in the works for almost seven years. "I've recorded albums before, but it's always been kind of a demo with just acoustic guitar and vocals," Jackson said. "But this one will be with a full band."

More information about Jackson's music, including for that album, can be found at