Veteran singer-songwriter Jon Shain has turned heads for years with his words, his fiery acoustic guitar work, and his evolved musical style. He combines improvised piedmont blues with bluegrass, swing, and ragtime.
The 2019 winner of the International Blues Challenge in the solo/duo category, Jon is scheduled to appear at the Woodstock Folk Festival this year. Shain’s most recent solo disc, Gettin’ Handy with the Blues: A Tribute to the Legacy of WC Handy, was released in January, 2018. Shain’s last release is the gorgeous roots album, Tomorrow Will Be Yesterday Soon, recorded along with long-time collaborator FJ Ventre. They have a new album, Never Found Way to Tame the Blues, due for release in 2021.
Want to explore more aabout Jon Shain? Then read the Featured Performer or More Resources sections below.
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Jon Shain: Our Featured Performer for April 28
From Jon’s website, www.jonshain.com.
Jon grew up in Haverhill, Massachusetts, a Merrimack River mill-town that had already seen its better days by the time he was a child in the 1970s. His family’s business was a small textile dyeing company, and he worked in the factory during the summers throughout his teens. At the same time, Shain began to discover his love of American roots music and songwriting, specifically drawn to the narratives about regular people and themes of social justice.
Shain headed south to North Carolina in 1986, to study American History at Duke University and to continue his musical journey, as well. In addition to studying with jazz professor Paul Jeffrey, he also had the good fortune to learn the piedmont blues tradition firsthand by playing in Big Boy Henry’s backing band. It was at this time that Shain also got to meet and play with John Dee Holeman and a number of the great older NC blues players. Shain’s classes in school were heavily concentrated in southern history, English, and world religions. That mixture of the academic environment and the real-world blues music is what has most informed his musical direction.
Jon’s First Band
Shain cut his touring teeth from 1989-1998 founding the Chapel Hill, NC folk-rock group, Flyin’ Mice and their spin-off group, WAKE. The band performed with acts such as David Grisman, Tony Rice Unit, Hot Tuna, and the Dixie Dregs, released four CDs, and played clubs, schools, and festivals up and down the East Coast, building a legion of fans. After his band’s breakup, Shain went solo, returning to his roots in the folk and blues circuit.
Albums, Guest Artist Performances, Instrumentals
In addition to the album with Joe Newberry and a live album with Jon Shain Trio, Jon has released eight studio albums, working with studio luminaries such as Dave Mattacks, Tom Dube, and Chris Stamey, along the way. As a guest artist, Jon has recorded with Jim Avett, Greg Humphreys, Dana Kletter, and many others. His instrumental music has been placed in several documentary films and commercials, as well as on shows on the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.
The last few years have seen Shain headlining listening rooms on the East Coast, in the Midwest, and in Europe, as well as opening shows for John Hiatt, Keb’ Mo’, Little Feat, and others. When Shain is not recording, producing other artists, or performing, he stays busy giving private instruction in Piedmont blues fingerstyle guitar, and teaching group workshops in songwriting and blues guitar.
More Resources and Ways to Hear Jon Shain
Visit HERE for information about “Jon’s musical buddies who perform with him frequently and are featured in his recordings.” These buddies include FJ Ventre, Allyn Love, and Joe Newberry.
FJ Ventre is scheduled to perform with Jon at the Woodstock Folk Festival on July 18, 2021.
Watch the video of Jon’s winning performance at 2019 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, and read the News & Observer’s feature.
Read about Jon as a teacher. See rave reviews from those who learn from him, like this one: “A brilliant player, he is also an accomplished teacher who can unlock a student’s Rosetta Stone and give them the tools to be the musician they want to be.” ~ Joe Newberry, Raleigh, NC
You can also find Jon on Facebook and Twitter.
For more music, visit Jon’s YouTube page.
Enjoy Jon Shain’s Woodstock Wednesdays performance!
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If you love what you heard here this evening, watch our own Calendar of Folk Music Events for upcoming performances online and in real time for all our music friends. And remember: you can always browse our Video Gallery, a wonderful folk music community resource.
Views expressed by performers and others who appear at Woodstock Festival events or on the website are solely the views of these individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Festival or its Board members.