|Fredericksburg Songwriters' Showcase||Jon Shain|
is a veteran singer-songwriter who's been turning heads for years with
his words, his fiery acoustic guitar work, and his evolved musical
style - combining improvised piedmont blues with bluegrass, swing, and
ragtime. Shain’s latest CD, Times Right Now, was self-produced along
with Jackson Hall and Scottsburg Jonze and mixed by Chris Stamey. The
album, released in November 2009, is already being hailed as the best
recording of Shain’s career.
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.
Shain cut his touring teeth from 1989-1998 founding the Chapel Hill, NC folk-rock group, Flyin' Mice and their spin-off group, WAKE. While sharing stages with luminaries such as David Grisman, Tony Rice Unit, Hot Tuna, Leon Russell, Dave Matthews Band, and the Dixie Dregs, the band 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. He released Brand New Lifetime in 1999 to positive reviews and solid airplay in the US and abroad. Spring 2001 brought the release of Fools and Fine Ladies, which garnered reviews from papers such as the Washington Post to national magazines like Relix and No Depression. 2003 saw the release of Shain's acclaimed album, No Tag, No Tail Light. The CD was produced in Boston, MA by Dave Mattacks and Tom Dube, and marked a watershed in production values, performance, and writing, winning great reviews in Sing Out!, No Depression, Relix, The Boston Phoenix, and meriting a full page article in Dirty Linen. The critically acclaimed follow-up, Home Before Long, was also produced by Mattacks and Dube and released in 2005. The self-produced Army Jacket Winter followed in 2007.
In addition to festival slots and headlining club dates, the last few years has seen Shain playing esteemed listening rooms such as The Living Room in NYC, Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, NY, and Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem, PA and opening sold out theatre shows for John Hiatt, Keb’ Mo’, Little Feat, and others.
When Shain is not recording or performing, he stays busy giving private instruction in Piedmont blues fingerstyle guitar, and teaching group workshops in songwriting and blues guitar. Whether in the one-on-one atmosphere of the teaching studio or onstage sharing a song with a roomful of strangers, Jon Shain is a natural communicator, keeping students and fans coming back for more.
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