His blind audition: Jesse Larson, 34, of Minneapolis, Minn., auditioned with John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy.” Only Adam Levine turned around, but that was enough to give Jesse a spot on the show. “There’s no one with ears that should not have turned around for that,” Adam said of Jesse’s performance.
His background: Jesse says he’s been “grinding” in music for a long time. He says the first guitar his father gave him was just a cheap, parts guitar. He and his father stripped it down and rebuilt it, something Jesse says also inspired him to play music. After high school, he took a job at an auto parts store and started gigging on nights and weekends. He’s been doing that for 15 years. Then, in February 2015, his band got a call from Prince. The superstar wanted Jesse to play guitar and sing background vocals for Judith Hill, a former contestant on The Voice. That experience lasted only four months. Jesse also had to overcome the loss of his dad, the man responsible for introducing him to blues, soul and rock and roll.
What the show didn’t show:
* Jesse says he actually didn’t start playing guitar until he was 16, but within a couple of years, he was performing with his brother and friends in a band at clubs and bars.
* He was involved in a couple of other bands before he and some friends formed a band called MPLS about five years ago. The band is made up of four singers and a rapper and specializes in the Minneapolis funk sound from the 1980s, with some soul, R&B and hip-hop mixed in, Jesse says.
* MPLS released a 14-track album called “Hello” in 2014 that’s available on iTunes. They’ve also started working on a second album, Jesse said.
* During a conference call with the media, Jesse says the Prince experience started when his band got a call, asking if they could perform for the music superstar. They did, playing five or six songs.
* Jesse then got called back to “jam with Prince” and realized he was auditioning to perform in Judith Hill’s band for Prince’s upcoming “Hit and Run” U.S. Tour in 2015.
* He wound up being put on a retainer by Prince and working at Paisley Park. Prince was present, “making sure what we were doing was his vision and his idea of what Judith’s sound was supposed to be,” Jesse said. He described Prince as “very reserved, very introverted, a very deep thinker.”
*The experience ended, Jesse said, when Prince decided to change his direction, planning a piano and microphone tour rather than a full-band tour. Prince, of course, died in April 2016.
* Jesse says it was his wife who encouraged him to audition for The Voice. He admitted being a little hesitant because he’s used to being the lead guitar player, a guy who sings backing vocals and takes lead on a couple of songs a night. “It was a big step for me to get in the mindset of being … the person in charge, the focal point.”
* Jesse says he’s been a “big fan” of Adam’s music for a long time, adding the Maroon 5 front man and Alicia Keys would have been his first picks for a coach on The Voice.
“Come Together” (cover with MPLS)
“How Does It Feel” (cover with MPLS)