Self made East Gull Lake musician creates his music on his terms

From his hobby farm in the Pillsbury State Forest, Jimmie Jay Anderson works on finishing his first album.

Jimmie Jay Anderson plays his acoustic guitar Friday, Jan. 15, at his Pillsbury Forest home near East Gull Lake. An accomplished musician, Anderson recently released a song dedicated to his dad who died of a heart attack in his arms in 1982. His song "See You Again" is streaming worldwide. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

EAST GULL LAKE — It’s a cozy little hobby farm nestled in the northern part of the Pillsbury State Forest, where three dogs, eight barn cats, 25 chickens, four guinea hens and three horses roam.

It’s also where acoustic guitar and song can be heard flowing through the air.

As one follows the music into the home about 5 miles west of Gull Lake, up the stairs and into the loft, you find Jimmie Jay Anderson playing his acoustic guitar.

Anderson has been a musician for 30 years and has played summertime gigs at Madden’s Resort, Bar Harbor, Zorbaz and Ernie’s On Gull, to name a few. Music has always been in Anderson’s life, but it wasn’t until recently that he decided to do something he has always wanted to do — release his own music.


Jimmie and his dad
Jimmie Jay Anderson is pictured here as a young child sitting in his father's lap. Anderson's dad died from a heart attack when Jimmie was 19-year-old. Submitted Photo

One of the first songs he released is special. It is a song that has been brewing in Anderson’s conscience for almost four decades about his father, Robin Anderson, who died of a massive heart attack in 1982.

“I wanted to dedicate a song to my dad who passed away, literally in my arms,” said Anderson, who performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on his father in an attempt to revive him. “I remember going to the hospital when they took him there and he was gone. They asked me if I wanted to go see him one last time and I declined. I was just kind of in a fog, you know, I was 19 years old. And I never did that and for some reason that's always stuck with me and bothered me. Again not a major deal, but for me it's always bothered me so I wanted to dedicate this song to him.”

Anderson released the tribute song to his father titled “See You Again” on Dec. 28, the anniversary date of his father’s death. The song was Anderson’s second song to be released and streamed on several platforms including iTunes, Pandora, Spotify and Amazon Music. To listen to the song go to .

Singing and playing his guitar in his home recording studio near East Gull Lake, Jimmie Jay Johnson has begun writing and recording his his own songs after 30 years of playing cover songs in several venues in Minnesota. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

“I wanted to have that song professionally recorded, produced and mastered already to go and create a video for it by Dec. 28, and I literally finished the video that day,” Anderson said. “What I did was my mother had some old 8 millimeter film from us growing up. We were a very tight knit family and I couldn't ask for a better childhood. We went camping all the time and doing all these fun things together so I took that old eight millimeter footage. I didn't know how to convert it because I did have it on a VHS tape but I didn't know how to get it digitally, so I literally in the dark on the big screen took my cell phone camera and I videotaped it off the TV and it came out pretty good.


“I was very proud of (getting the video out on time). It was a big thing for me and makes me feel good about it and that was the inspiration behind that song and it came out great.”

The lyrics of "See You Again" by Jimmie Jay Johnson. This song is dedicated to Johnson's dad who died of a heart attack in his arms in 1982. The song "See You Again" is streaming worldwide. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Anderson said since the song has been released he can tell it has “struck a chord” with people. The song got about a 38% save rate of people saving it to their music library, which is pretty high, Anderson said. There also were many heartfelt comments on YouTube below the song.

Anderson said his goal is to work on his fan base throughout the world, not just the United States. His music has been heard in the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Germany, Philippines, Spain and Italy to name a few. His day job as a marketing director has been helpful in him promoting his music through social media and advertising.

When Anderson decided to begin a music career, he said he had plenty of musician friends who would have helped him, but he decided to go in a different direction. Anderson did some research and he found a company called The Online Recording Studio in Manchester, England. “I liked the concept of just paying for all the mixing, producing and mastering priced per instrument and everything being done online,” Anderson said. “I sent a couple of demos and they try and match you up as they have various producers who they think would be a good fit for you. And they connected me with a gentleman named Danny Beck, a fantastic producer. I've never worked with a professional producer before and it was just a game changer for me. I sent him my original material, and then we started discussing it. We would literally have online video chats as they’re six hours ahead of us. I'm an early riser ... so I'd be online video chatting with him at 5:30-6 in the morning in the morning and then we'd literally discuss guitar parts and go over things and then we share files back and forth.”


The first song Anderson recorded and Beck produced is called “Still Alive.”

“I like to think we're both on the same wavelength,” Beck stated in an email about working with Anderson. “I love working with Jimmie. We share a love of classic songs and classic songwriting with artists like The Beatles and Tom Petty. Jimmie's hard working and dedicated to his craft which makes my role way more enjoyable. A quality of Jimmie's that stands out to me is that he has fun with it. Music isn't a chore for him, it just comes naturally and he enjoys what he does and that comes across in his music.”

Jimmie Jay Johnson smiles after playing a song Friday, Jan. 15, at his home and recording studio near East Gull Lake. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Beginning of Jimmie’s music journey

His early desire to make music actually started with a film.

Anderson was about 10-11 years old when he was sitting at his grandparent’s cabin at Lake Vermillion in the northeastern part of Minnesota watching a movie.

“I know this is going to sound funny,” Anderson said as he told the story as it popped into his head. “But I remember watching this movie ... and there was an old band called Herman's Hermits and I watched it and it was so silly of a movie. I was watching how all these fans just adore them and admire them and chase them all over and I just thought that was the neatest thing in the world. I'm like, I want to do that. That would be fun.”

Anderson said a couple of years rolled by and he got his first guitar from his uncle Jim Disheau.

“I just started plucking at it and like most people you try a little bit, you get a chord down and that's it,” Anderson said. “A couple years went by and I was probably 16-17 and I pulled it out again start playing a little more, and then started getting into it, and my senior year I decided to collaborate with a couple friends, and another friend of mine got together on the drums, that was Mike Wright, and another friend Randy Venaas on the guitar. We started out my basement and we're absolutely horrible, but we just had a blast. We thought we have to play for the public so in my senior year, we did a class assembly in front of everybody. We went out there and played three songs and we were absolutely horrible, but people loved it and didn't care and I was hooked ever since.”

Anderson said he played music during the summer months and did a lot in the ‘80s. Music slowed down a bit when he and his wife had two children, who are now in their upper 20s. Anderson said for a time he was in a Minneapolis area band called Roadhouse 6, but parted ways when he moved from the area. Anderson and his wife, Jane Kure, moved to the Brainerd lakes area about seven years ago.

Anderson said COVID-19 has slowed down the live music scene, but said his phone is beginning to ring and things are starting to happen, so he is hopeful he will be able to perform live again soon.

Anderson, a self taught musician, said Disheau was a great influence on him musically, as well as Pete Hanson and Tom Molar.

Jimmie Jay Johnson plays his acoustic guitar Friday, Jan. 15, at his Pillsbury Forest home near East Gull Lake. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Lofty goals

Anderson is working on recording and releasing his self titled debut album. The album will include 11 songs. He said the songs are in a rough format right now, but he hopes to get them all finished by the end of July.

Anderson said he also is going to do crowdfunding to help raise funds for his music.

“It's expensive to do but I’m excited about it,” Anderson said. “I'm putting stuff together and it's like a Kickstarter campaign but it's gonna be through a company called Indiegogo who specializes more in artists and musicians. I am gonna get that all cranked up and we're gonna get it rolling.”

Anderson said the funds will help him put his album together. He said people can donate a certain amount of money for a digital download of a song before it hits the market. Anderson also is going to auction his first acoustic guitar off to someone who donates between $500-600 and also auction off some live music parties that follow COVID-19 regulations.

“We’re doing a lot of things to make this fun and to bring people together,” Anderson said.

To listen to Anderson’s music, go to jimmiejayjanderson or or .

JENNIFER KRAUS may be reached at or 218-855-5851. Follow me at on Twitter.

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