Levy's disaster manager hit with storm of attention

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Will be on Letterman show Monday

By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor



Levy County Emergency Management Director Mark Johnson, also a musician, is the third annual recipient of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass.

He will receive the award during a performance with Martin on the “Late Show with David Letterman” on Sept. 24. Along with the award — a sculpture by artist Eric Fischi, Johnson receives a $50,000 check from the Steve Martin Foundation. 

The Letterman show airs locally on MyGTN, Channel 4, at 11:30 p.m. 

Martin, best known as a comedian, is also an award-winning bluegrass musician and plays a Deering Clawgrass banjo named after Johnson's 

style of banjo playing.

Johnson, who records with Emory Lester, a mandolin and guitar musician, has championed the Clawgrass style of play.

Johnson said he was stunned to receive the award. He was at home on Sept. 5 when a FedEx truck pulled in to deliver a package. Johnson said he was so stunned when he opened the envelope from his friend that he fell to his knees. After assuring the FedEx delivery woman he was OK, Johnson said he went into his home and said a prayer to thank God. 

It was probably Johnson's last quiet moment because starting with a call from Martin shortly after the delivery he has been bombarded with congratulatory calls, emails and Facebook messages from friends.  

Johnson, who is in his busy season as emergency management director, said he is worried about leaving the county for a few days to rehearse and perform with Martin on the Letterman show.

But it is an opportunity to put forth the Levy County name on a popular TV program, he said.