Steve Johnson is the President and CEO of SJ21 Music based in Asheville, NC.
Johnson launched his music career early as an event support staffer for music festivals and concerts that were promoted by his family, often serving as the artist merchandise coordinator as well as assisting with other various needs during the events. His Aunt was the Fan Club President for Bill Monroe and Monroe featured prominently in Johnson’s early life and exposure to festival and concert operations. Fast forward several years, Johnson launched Mountain Music Entertainment, an artist and event management company with offices in East Tennessee and Nashville where he produced the award-winning Historic Jonesborough Bluegrass Series and also led Junior Sisk to 3 International Bluegrass Music Association awards as his manager.
In 2012, Johnson became the Events Artist Relations Manager for Wilkes Community College. That position included talent buying and event management responsibilities for MerleFest and the John A. Walker Community Performing Arts Center. Johnson held that position, with increasing responsibilities, until he left in the Summer of 2018 (continuing to consult through MerleFest 2019). Since 2013 Johnson had served as the President and CEO of HoosierDevil (2013-2018), based in Asheville, North Carolina, where the firm held tour managing responsibilities for the Grammy Award winning Steep Canyon Rangers on their solo tours as well as with Steve Martin and Martin Short through the 2018 touring season and also had responsibility for helping develop the high-profile Jam in the Trees (2016-2018) and Strings and Suds (2019) Music Festivals that were held at the Pisgah Brewing Company in Black Mountain, NC. HoosierDevil also consulted with Red Ants Pants Music Festival in White Sulphur Springs Montana (2016-2018) and the Town of Pikeville, Kentucky (2018) on special event planning.
In 2019 Johnson joined the Bonfire Music Group in their Nashville, Tennessee office initially as President of Artist Management, Event, and Booking Divisions and then moved to the role of President of Artist and Event Management where he held responsibility for the development of the inaugural Earl Scruggs Music Festival as well artist management for 6 artist clients, predominantly in the Americana genre.
Today, Johnson serves as President of SJ21 Music in Asheville, NC. The firm’s current client roster includes Chatham County Line, The Barefoot Movement, Anna Lynch and The Earl Scruggs Music Festival.
Johnson is a member in good standing of the Americana Music Association, International Bluegrass Music Association, Folk Alliance International, and Americana Music Association UK. He is an in-demand presenter/panel member and graduate of the International Bluegrass Music Association Leadership Bluegrass Class of 2013.
Why SJ21? Before entering the music industry Johnson worked at Fire Station 21 as a firefighter/EMT. His last helmet number there was 2106. After leaving the Fire Station he worked as a paramedic and his badge/shield number was A21. Later, he volunteered with a fire station and you guessed it, he was Firefighter 921. SJ21 showed up multiple times as he completed his training and forms. Place your initials and badge number here…
Johnson credits that part of his professional career to helping him manage events and artists. “It’s all a bit like putting out fires before they get too big, letting some fires burn, and also taking care of people in a way you would want to be taken care of”.
President and CEO of SJ21 Music