Jeff Cannon
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Jeff Cannon

Bloomington, Indiana, United States | Established. Jan 01, 1994 | SELF

Bloomington, Indiana, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 1994
Solo Folk Singer/Songwriter



The best kept secret in music


"Jeff Cannon, 13 Questions"

Jeff Cannon’s latest release is the hallmark of an ever-evolving artist. This third phase of his musical career shows us a contemplative songwriter simply seeking answers to 13 questions. Appropriately, the 13-tracks of the album deal with issues of commonality that run through us all: Isolation, otherness, regret, and institution to name a few. The universal issues are storyboarded against a collective life of musicality with the tracks ranging from demure to call to action and the instrumentation serving as aural compliment to the depth of the song ethos.

The Folksy Rock swagger of opening track “Turn Of The Century” sees Cannon channeling a less nasally Tom Petty, over soaring electric intro work. The Bluesy distortion fits well with backing harmonica chirps and a driving melody that carries this one. The autobiographical “The Busker” recalls the songwriter’s time as performing street musician in Boston and Los Angeles. The mid tempo acoustic track evokes a Paul Simon approach to songwriting with its austere feel. The acoustic is bolstered by slight percussion and backing steel, adding to the eerie ethos of the track. “Wild Peace” is a soaring piece, calling the listener, not to arms; but the opposite–to get out of the way and allow unabated peace to rein. The undercurrent of electric melody carries the down tempo track while Cannon’s message stands at the foreground of the track. Backing vocals are supplied by his 14-year-old daughter, Emma. Inspired by the Occupy Movement, “Hypnotized and Occupied” is part social commentary; another part protest song opening to horn blasts, rat-a-tat snare work and backing electric work. Lyrically, Cannon’s words leave no room for interpretation with matter such as “occupy”, “99 to one” and “the ones in the sky get so high they rig the game.” This one is not only the most socially relevant; but also arguably the cleverest songwriting on the album. “You Belong To Me” marks the first of two covers on the album in this demure acoustic interpretation of the oft covered song. Simple and stripped down to acoustic, vocal tandem and weepy backing strings; this one is allowed to stand on its own merit in what is simply a beautiful rendition. Title track “13 Questions” opens to 70s influenced funk horn section work a la a vintage Chicago track, with distorted electric. The trumpet solo/fiddle work at the midpoint is the standout facet of the track and shows the musicality at Cannon’s ready disposal. Rounding out the tracks is a rendition of Lennon’s “Grow Old With Me.” Cannon’s admiration of the song led him to include this one on the album stating: “That song needs to be heard as much for that message as the beautiful wish in its title.” Brush snare keeps time while acoustic picking and electric add melody and fills. More female backing vocals bolster Cannon’s at the chorus through to the outro.

It goes without saying that anything ever written has some rhetorical character to it. But, 13 Questions transcends a simple raison d’etre–this is an album with a heart; a mind and a soul. This is more an introspection and testament to social awareness than record. If you want music that stirs your insides and demands that you think; pick this up and find 13 answers of your own. - Christopher West, Skope Magazine


Still working on that hot first release.



Musician, community servant, learner.

For native New Yorker and Indiana transplant Jeff Cannon, ducking in and out of his many identities has become a lifestyle.

“I’m willing to remake myself as many times as I need to if that’s what it takes to serve the issues and people I care about,” he says.

Born and raised in New York City, Cannon is the son of former Columbia University Chaplain and social justice advocate John Cannon, and the great grandson of World Peace Foundation founder and publishing magnate Edwin Ginn. Chasing visions of a better world has been something of a family business.

He settled in as a freelance writer and journalism lecturer at Indiana University. And took advantage of the chance to get his Master’s degree, and then his Ph.D., which is only a dissertation away. 

Identified as a music prodigy at young age, Jeff attended a boarding music school in New York City from the age of 9. In the 80s he led popular DC-area pop-rockers The Kids to regional acclaim, then withdrew into a busy management career before reemerging in 1994 on the Boston Folk Scene, where he soon joined the management team that successfully reestablished the legendary roots music club Passim as a community non-profit.

As a singer-songwriter Jeff found quick success at that time in the New England scene, reaching the final three of the 1995 Boston Acoustic Underground competition, playing acoustic venues throughout the Northeast, and then, fueled by widespread support from a web of national folk radio DJs and syndicators, touring the national folk circuit, including such prestigious billings as the Kerrville Folk Festival in 1997.

When he left the road life in 2002, Jeff established a reputation as a folk DJ in his own rite as Host of WIUX and Internet radio show “Folk From the Heartland” from 2003-2007.

Jeff has been supported on his CDs by a who’s who of contemporary folk and alt-country: Patty Griffin, Greg Greenway, Johnny Cunningham, Rani Arbo, Jake Armerding, etc., as well as some of the best in side-sters. The new CD features Jim Hoke (Dolly Parton, Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill, Wynonna Judd, etc.), Stu Kimball (Bob Dylan Band), Adam Steinberg (Dixie Chicks, Patty Griffin, etc.), jazz horn notable Pat Harbison, and many others.

The hats will continue to rotate, but the issues are always the same for Jeff: it’s always about reaching a little higher, making things just a little more fair:

“I’m at an age where I’m willing to say it’s about the imprints we make on our institutions. You can’t have a just world if the systems are rigged. I know we all wrestle with when to fight, and when to let go. For me it’s not enough to say ‘I got mine.’ Mine just doesn’t matter in any real sense. What matters is ours, as in the “us” that will be sitting in this spot in 50 years from now, or 1000, for that matter. It still comes down to you and me, even then. Mikhail Bakhtin, the Russian social theorist, brilliantly wrote in exile, ‘Nothing is ever completely dead. Every meaning will have its homecoming festival.’ I believe that offers a perfect roadmap for living, to make each step count believing that someday it will have its moment, and in a place where it will truly matter for someone.”

Band Members