International Blues Challenge Winner Jon Shain Signs with Blue Mountain Artists

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Jon Shain

This year’s International Blues Challenge winner in the duo/solo category, Jon Shain, is a musicians’ musician.  A talented blues guitarist, an accomplished songwriter, a brilliant teacher, and a sought-after producer. Jon brings a special energy to all he touches and easily garners fans with his undoubtable talent, quick wit, and ready smile.

“Winning the Blues Challenge was crazy, I still can’t believe it happened,” said Shain. “I made it to the finals in 2008 with FJ Ventre and wasn’t sure I would go again.  When you are competing with 160 of the best blues performers from around the world it is just humbling to be on the same stage. I am so grateful for the experience.”

Recently signing with longtime friend Hugh Southard of the prestigious Blue Mountain Artists, Shain has joined a roster of some of the most accomplished performers of roots music on tour today and has a slate of high-profile festival dates ahead of him this year.

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. His most recent solo disc, Gettin’ Handy with the Blues: A Tribute to the Legacy of WC Handy, was released in January, 2018. Shain’s newest release is the gorgeous roots album, Tomorrow Will Be Yesterday Soon, recorded along with longtime collaborator FJ Ventre.

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, he 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 he also got to meet and play with John Dee Holeman and a number of 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 real-world blues music is what has most informed his artistic 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. The band performed with acts such as David Grisman, Tony Rice Unit, Hot Tuna, and the Dixie Dregs; he 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 & blues circuit. 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 and 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.

Tour Dates:

APR 11 Music on the Porch, UNC campus, Chapel Hill, NC *

APR 18 Isis Restaurant and Music Hall, Asheville, NC *

APR 19 Fiddle and Bow presents at Upstage Cabaret, Greensboro, NC *

MAY 04 Sugar Magnolia Cafe and Emporium, Wake Forest, NC *

MAY 11 Cat’s Cradle Backroom, Carrboro, NC *

with special guest Rod Abernethy

MAY 18 Carolina Blues Festival, Greensboro, NC *

MAY 26 Grove Winery, Gibsonville, NC

JUN 15 House concert Chapel Hill, NC US *

with Craicdown

JUN 17 Millwood Blues Week, Winchester, VA

JUN 18 Millwood Blues Week, Winchester, VA

JUN 20 Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, IL

JUN 21 Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, IL

with Donna Herula, Mark Dvorak

JUN 23 The Jazz Kitchen, Indianapolis, IN

with Andra Faye and Scott Ballantine

JUN 24 The Seasons Lodge, Nashville, IN

JUN 25 Waypost Brewing Company, Fennville, MI

JUN 26 Goshen Brewing Company, Goshen, IN

with Jason Ropp

JUN 28 Elderly Instruments, Lansing, MI

with Darcy Wilkin

JUN 29 Trinity House Theatre, Livonia, MI

with Darcy Wilkin

JUL 05 Meadowmont First Fridays, Chapel Hill, NC

JUL 06 Festival for the Eno, Durham, NC *

JUL 20 Rocky Mount Mills, Rocky Mount, NC *

with Randy McQuay

AUG 26 Acoustic Alaska Guitar Camp, Wasilla, AK

SEP 05 Big Blues Bender Festival, Las Vegas, NV

SEP 13 The Historic Cooper’s House Concerts, Columbia, MD *

SEP 14 Deer Creek Coffeehouse, Darlington, MD *

SEP 15 Towne Crier Cafe, Beacon, NY *

with Slam Allen

SEP 19 House Concert, Yarmouth, MA *

SEP 21 First Acoustics House Concerts, Brooklyn, NY *

SEP 27. Carolina Theatre, Greensboro, NC

with Abigail Dowd

SEP 28 The SoundHouse, Shallotte, NC *

OCT 05. House Concert, Charlottesville, VA *

with Brother John and the Disciples

OCT 06 Under the Oaks house concert, Appomattox, VA *

OCT 21. Music at the Cannery, Dataw Island, SC

OCT 26. Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, San Diego, CA *

*Shows with FJ Ventre, Bassist


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