We caught up with the singer, songwriter, surfer, and activist on his front porch in Hawaii.
Writer: Kristen Shelton Fielder
1 of 6Photo: Linny Morris
Jack of All Trades
Hawaii's North Shore is home to pineapple fields, huge waves, Matsumoto's famous shave ice, and Jack Johnson. Jack grew up here, just a couple of houses down from where he lives now, and he is as tied to Hawaii as he is to his music.
Jack is the poster boy for island life. Strumming his guitar on his front porch, he laughs about perpetuating the stereotype that he's always barefoot. "No one is used to seeing me in shoes; I usually wear slippers (Hawaiian for flip-flops). Whenever we tour somewhere cold, my friends always say I look funny with shoes on."
2 of 6Photo: Linny Morris
"I always knew Hawaii was fun, but then you travel a bit, and come back, and you have this warm ocean; it's such a nice place to be," he says. "So this time, to get to do it with the kids, and be fully aware of how lucky you are to be diving, looking at fish, finding shells, and that kind of thing ... I'm enjoying that."
When Jack is home, he tries to surf every day—before the morning scramble to get the kids off to school starts—even though that means waking up before the rest of the family to catch a few sets. (That's surfer lingo for waves.)
Jack's brother Trent shapes traditional Hawaiian surfboards from reclaimed wood (shown at left).
3 of 6Photo: Linny Morris
Although Jack doesn’t claim a favorite color, he has to like turquoise—it’s wife Kim’s favorite.
4 of 6Photo: Linny Morris
Jack's newest musical project is a best-of compilation of live shows performed over the years at the Kokua Festival. The tracks feature collaborations with Willie Nelson, Ben Harper, and Dave Matthews, among others, and proceeds from album sales support the foundation.
For his music nook (at left), Jack designed a wall to fit the piano exactly.
5 of 6Photo: Linny Morris
Jack gives us a list of singers and songs: some old, some new, and some surprises.
Bob Marley: Just put him on shuffle. Ted Lucas: the whole album Bahamas: "Barchords" Taj Mahal: "Farther on Down the Road" Loudon Wainwright III: "New Paint" Greg Brown: "Daughters" Steve Miller Band: "The Joker" Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros G. Love The Roots Santigold Wilco Vampire Weekend Violent Femmes Pavement
Favorite footwear (when not barefoot)? I don't get attached to any one pair. In Hawaii, no one wears shoes indoors, so there are always big piles on the porch. It's not uncommon to find a pair better than the ones you originally wore and just leave with those. My brother Pete is the worst—always trading up for a better pair.
Secret indulgence? coffee and surfboards
Number of boards in his collection? too many to count
Favorite North Shore restaurants? Café Haleiwa and Luibueno's
Can't stop listening to? The Toronto artist Bahamas (real name: Afie Jurvanen), and also Ted Lucas
Go-to comfort food? peanut butter, bananas, and honey on a tortilla