JL Stiles
Gig Seeker Pro

JL Stiles

San Francisco, California, United States

San Francisco, California, United States
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"CD Review--Solo Sessions"

"Jimmy Reed. Mississippi John Hurt. Ted Hawkins...JL Stiles? Well, maybe.

On his all-acoustic second disc for Shoeless Records, the San Francisco based guitarist aims for the generally sunny style of these bluesmen, and hits the mark dead on. While other young guitarists seem intent on proving how fast they can play a lick--an ill that's hardly unique to the blues--Stiles plays with such a quiet, unassuming style that at first you don't realize how good it is. In fact, Stiles who took up the guitar at age 18, downplays his own ability. Still, he's been playing for 14 years now, and he is, in his own words, 'a diligent son bitch'"

Clearly, he's done something right; Solo Sessions is an unmitigated pleasure. In its restraint and modesty, Stiles' music harks back to his New England roots; the Southern inflection comes from a several year stint in New Orleans. The West coast, in contrast, doesn't seem to have made much of an impact. He's a good songwriter, and everything on Solo Sessions is his, except "Trouble I Had All My Days" which closes the album. The Hurt influence is most audible in the sweet melancholy of 'Never To Grow Old" and "Fellow Grove" has a similar emotional intimacy. In fact, all the songs have a deceptive simplicity that recalls an earlier, more innocent age, and even if such an age never existed except in our imaginations, Stiles takes us there, if only for a little while. While his fame is mostly local to Norethern California and his audience is still very much the indie set, it seems likely that will change. He's shared stages with such luiminaries as Keb' Mo' and Corey Harris, and it's easy to predict that Stiles' time in the spotlight--a gently glowing luminescence, to be sure--will come.

Genevieve Williams, Blues Revue - Blues Revue

"DIY Top 12"

The music created by JL Stiles doesn¹t sound at all like what one might expect from a white, Jewish singer-songwriter born and raised in Connecticut ... especially one who didn¹t start playing the guitar until he was 18 years old. His rubbery, expressive baritone sounds closest to the sweet croon of the late bluesman Ted Hawkins, and Stiles lays into his 12-string guitar with the vigor and ambition of a streetwise punk who just discovered Leo Kottke. Add in the winsome harmonica and the carefree, riding-the-rails folk song structure which Stiles employs, and the 12 tracks on Solo Sessions achieve an earthy authenticity‹his music emerges, most likely unconsciously, from the hazy notes of forebears like Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker, Richie Havens and the defunct college rock band Miracle Legion.

Simultaneously classic and original, JL Stiles aids his cause by penning personal, personable lyrics taken from his worldview and philosophy. In ³Nothin¹ Here for Me,² the cocky troubadour surveys the wealth of his new hometown, San Francisco, and confesses that he¹s most at home hanging out with the hippies at the BART station. In ³Fellow Grove,² he sings about his childhood pastime of rounding up golf balls at a country club and reselling them to the pro shop. Stiles may take his style from the rural side of America, but his sensibility remains true to his real roots.

Noel Murray - Peforming Songwriter

"Live Review of Stiles at the Knitting Factory, Hollywood"

J.L. Stiles The Knitting Factory Hollywood
Armed with only his earthy warm baritone, a guitar and harmonica, JL Stiles is exactly what you expect from a blues singer, a self contained musician who moves his audience. At this show, Stiles played an equal mix of original pieces and traditional blues. ³This [show] is supposed to be a tribute to Mississippi John Hurt,² he told the crowd. ³No skin off my back, I play him anyway.²

While Stiles¹ own songs, like ³Fellow Grove² and ³Nothin¹ Here For Me² (which narrates a trip to the mall before a friend¹s wedding to look for something ³nice and cheap² on the gift registry) have a more modern quality to their lyrics, they have old souls. But Stiles also shows a slightly slicker, more polished side on tunes like ³Land of the Plenty,² which is vaguely reminiscent of early Eagles.

Musicianship: If it weren¹t for his appearance, listening to Stiles¹ gritty, twangy voice, you¹d swear you were hearing an old bluesman like the late Ted Hawkins, to whom he¹s been compared. In a time where it seems rare to find a singer who sounds extraordinary, accompanied only by an acoustic guitar, Stiles is completely satisfying as a solo artist. He uses finger-picking to great effect to add texture to his music, and with a 12-string guitar can recreate the sound of a piano in an Old West saloon.

Performance: Sporting an understated maroon silk shirt and black slacks, it¹s clear that Stiles is just about the music. As Stiles blows on his harmonica, both his feet start stomping in time, and his eyes focus in a wide-eyed stare-those of a man obsessed with the blues. During the show, Stiles seems to fully engage the room with his music and humorous chatter. He closed the show with an impressive display that wowed the crowd, playing his six-string by tapping the frets with both hands to produce a dulcimer-like sound.

Summary: For a lover of the blues, Stiles is undoubtedly a gem. He is an accomplished musician who offers both faithful renditions of old blues standards, as well as a solid body of fresh, original blues and rockabilly compositions.

Dani Barnard - Music Connection


Solo Sessions
Land of the Plenty



JL Stiles’ mind works much in the same way as JS Bach yet Bach never encountered the blues or ragtime. In a remarkable search for the all-encompassing and profound, Stiles was once en route to becoming a PhD in Mathematics when it became clear he belonged on the stage, where his uncanny brain for finger style guitar works perfectly well with his imaginative songs and voice. Stiles cites the inimitable and oft-forgotten, virtuosic genius of Blind Blake as his primary influence on guitar. Where as playing Blind Blake would occupy more than a lifetime of most, Stiles’ own music goes far astray from his forbears, returning to the source primarily in his side project, Hobo Paradise.

In July 2010 Stiles opened a show solo acoustic for Keb’ Mo’at the fabulous Napa Uptown Theater and disarmed the crowd, taking them on the Stiles rollercoaster ride of emotions. The venue wasted little time having him back to open for BB King on Halloween. But do not be fooled: Pigeonholing Stiles as a bluesman is a huge mistake similar to doing so with Bob Dylan just because he plays the blues righteously.

JL regularly headlines in his hometown of San Francisco and also topped the bill at the noted Freight and Salvage in Berkeley and concert series across the country, one born out of JL’s knockout performance in support of JJ Cale. In the past, Stiles has shared the stage with Etta James, Leon Redbone, Tower of Power and Suzy Bogguss.

Stiles also produced in 2010 an incredible video for his new song entitled Song Beside My Grave. This, along with his other new material indicates his best may still be yet to come.

Performance History
**Napa Uptown Theater in Napa, CA (2010 shows with BB King, Keb' Mo')

**Bimbo's in San Francisco with JJ Cale

**Villa Montalvo Garden Ampitheater, Saratoga, CA (opened for Keb' Mo')

**Courthouse Concert, Riverside, CA (opening for Etta James)

**Mystic Theater, Petaluma,CA (several shows from 2000 to the present with Jimmie Vaughan, The Bodeans, Jefferson Starship, Tommy Castro, Taj Mahal, Leon Redbone, Joe Louis Walker, Tower of Power, Dan Hicks)

**Oaksong Summer Concert Series, Oak Run, CA

**Villa Montalvo Carriage House

**Swallow Hill, Denver (show with Guy Davis)

**Little Fox Theater, Redwood City (with John Hammond)

**Knitting Factory, LA (tribute to Mississippi John Hurt link here to see review in Music Connection Magazine)

**Freight and Salvage, Berkeley, CA (headlined in 2010 and also appeared on West Coast Live Radio)

**Islands Folk Festival, Vancouver Island

**John Lee Hooker's Boom Boom Room, San Francisco (many shows including with Magic Slim and the Teardrops)

**Knitting Factory, New York

**Biscuits and Blues, San Francisco (frequent performances)

**Tractor Tavern, Seattle, WA(Double bill with Ruthie Foster)

**Rancho Nicasio, Point Reyes, CA

**Rockford Mendelssohn Hall, Rockford, IL (Charlotte's Web production Stiles headlined)

**San Diego Street Scene