Jon Black
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Jon Black

Birmingham, Alabama, United States | INDIE

Birmingham, Alabama, United States | INDIE
Band Americana Folk


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"Hello Golden Age"

Randy Newman is reported to have once said, “I am what rock and roll could have become had it chosen a different path”. If that is true, and it seems reasonable to assume that it is, then Jon Black is what alt-country/Americana could have become had Jeff Tweedy never met Jim O’Rourke. Like Newman, Black has soldiered on in a genre of music that has been abandoned by some of its brightest stars. His perseverance is our reward as he releases Goodbye Golden Age.

His third record, and second on the hardworking Rebuilt label, Goodbye Golden Age is an overwhelming testimony to the fact that there is still territory where Whiskeytown and others left off. Opening with a quiet plucking guitar in “April Showers” and then taking a sharp left into “Mouth of the Moon”, where the guitars and harmonies ring like they came straight from the heart of a Blue Mountain record, Black crafts a beginning-to-end listen that will leave you wanting more. His vocal performance lies somewhere between Ryan Adams and the Autumn Defense’s John Stiratt, but the tone is all his own.

“Run with All You Got” is the tried and true story of a man on the road trying to make a life out of the choices he has made. It is filled with urgency as it contemplates those who run out of time before they reach the finish. “Drove to Knoxville” utilizes a beautiful lap pedal steel guitar introduction to frame the song. The title track is pleasant enough but not as memorable as other tracks where Black elicits the help of fellow southern guitar slinger Cary Hudson. “I Am the Tempted” would not be out of place on a Robbie Fulks record, and once again the lap pedal steel guitar is used to great effect.

“Deliverance” is totally devoid of pig noises (sort of a letdown) but once again fuses the very edge of Americana with a driving rock sound and an intriguing narrative. ”Banks of Jordan” does what Americana and Country have been doing better than any genre for years: fusing the life of a sinner with the brimstone found in gospel. The subject, another of Black’s characters who reaches his end too early, is completely guilty and yet totally redeemable, a trick not easily performed by any songwriter.

Black abandoned corporate America to pursue music full-time six years ago. Since that time he has toured the country, released two records, and established a core of very loyal fans. Lyrically, he may not be breaking new ground but the songs read as authentic. Perhaps his years “working for the man” led the Georgia-born Black to watch those around him more carefully than most of us do. Whatever it is, he is growing into a formidable songwriter with a considerable amount to say and just as much worth listening to. Goodbye Golden Age , despite its resigned title, is proof that the golden age of Americana is alive and well. -

"Goodbye Golden Age, Hello Jon Black"

“Goodbye Golden Age. I wish we had more time. Goodbye Golden Age. I won’t be far behind.” ~ Jon Black
You know that feeling you get when you hear a song on the radio for the first time and can’t get it out of your head for the rest of the day?

How you try to remember the lyrics, wishing the notes in your mind would play out loud for you once more?

Although you may never hear his music on the radio or watch his songs climb the charts, the passion for music that drives Jon Black is satisfaction enough.

Music is his life, and I’m sure those who know his work can honestly attest that Jon Black is truly an artist.

With the upcoming release of his new album later this month, Black elevates his music to another level.

Finding influence from his southern Alabama roots, he is greatly influenced by good ole’ Americana music.

This album, however, is a little different. By developing his Rock ’n’ Roll sound into a more acoustic/folk tone, the album Goodbye Golden Age is sure to impress fans.

After listening to this album, you’ll soon realize he’s not the typical cliché artist who sings of love and deep emotions.

He sings from his experience as an artist, traveling the country for inspiration.

Take a song like “Declaration”: the words depict his outcry for a new beginning and a life apart from the everyday monotony of life.

This song makes the biggest statement on the album.

The lyrics, “We’re living in a land where we go through these motions just like fools, just like slaves…” send a message to all of us to take a look at our lives and put things into perspective.

Are we living each day out of the box or following the crowd instead?
He takes a similar approach to the song the album is named after, “Goodbye Golden Age.”

The song is reminiscent of the good memories of his life and displays hope for his future.

After hearing Black’s music for the first time and meeting him in June, I know that his songs aren’t just made up words.

They are his journal through his own life.

Even though it’s been a few months since then, I’m still just as crazy about his music as I was the first time I heard it.

From one track to the next it’s apparent, once you come across a real artist who loves his craft, you can’t help but want to keep listening.

Although the album was in limited release earlier this year, “Goodbye Golden Age” will be available everywhere Sept. 30. - The University of Tampa Minaret

"Jon Black - October Sky"

I don’t know if you remember the movie October Sky that came out about seven years ago, starring Jake Gyllenhaal before he was a celebrity. Anyway, it was a sweet little thing about the life, or rather boyhood, of Homer Hickam, the son of a coal miner who ended up working for the space program. One of the things I always liked about it was learning that the original title for the movie was Rocket Boys, which also happens to be an anagram of “October Sky.” It was kind of a neat nugget.

This is all relevant to South Carolina singer-songwriter Jon Black’s album The October Sky, which is a sweet little thing with some neat nuggets buried in it. It’s a bit more soft and Wilco-esque than I usually tend toward, with pretty guitars and what sound like brushes on the drums, but Black’s voice manages to be captivating, even though it almost tips into an excess of normality. He’s not afraid to go up kind of high, and his vocal chords can handle the demands without coming off "Idol" at all.

The passages on “My Days Are Numbered” and “The Wastelands” when he gets to do just that are the best on the album. Mostly, The October Sky, released on local label Rebuilt Records, is strummy and flavored with a bit of steel guitar and some plucked fiddle. It's not bad, if not something to do backflips over.

Hillary Brown - Flagpole

"Why isn't this man well known?"

When something is as unassuming as this record is and when it over delivers on its promise, that’s when you gain the most satisfaction. Having no foreknowledge of his work, it is a pleasant surprise to find something thoughtful, well presented and just damn good. There are plenty of touchstones to other performers (and no doubt I’ll mention them later) but you can forget them. ‘All I Need’ is quite bare, almost minimalist, haunted by harmonica, shaken by military drums, anchored by world weary vocals, the ten short lines of lyrics, spare, seemingly not enough to fill out the six minutes or so, but they do - a few brushstrokes are all you need to create a piece of art. A good start always helps and having feedback that segues into acoustic guitar and piano constantly gets my attention, then adding intelligent lyrics and a chorus that shuffles like a dog with worms works for me every time.

The standard of lyrics is excellent throughout - try this concise verse from ‘Pills to Help Me Sleep’, ‘I’ve got pills that help me sleep / Sirens on the shelf / A cylinder that sings to me / When I’m lying to myself’. The utilitarian song writing style and plain delivery of ‘Glory, Hallelujah’ reminds me of prime Richmond Fontaine, as does the tile track with its uncomplicated guitar, mandolin, pedal steel and an atmosphere like dawn braking over a trailer park, where a shirtless man searches for his boots in the half-light. You can’t help hearing echoes of Pedro the Lion in ‘Dressed in Dark Blue,’ especially in the vocal; the way that he nasally holds on to the words in sing-speak, the song almost implodes in the central section, instruments pulled towards a black hole - they gather again and carry him to the conclusion. I like the way that each word is important to him, none are extraneous, all crafted beautifully; his voice treats them with care and anyone interested in the work of Richard Buckner or Jay Farrar would do well to meet Jon Black. - Americana UK

"Jon Black - October Sky"

Jon Black's press kit tells a familiar story: Fed up with his stint in the corporate world, Black left his cubicle behind to take his chances with his music. It's an inspiring story that's been told again and again in that "if only it had worked" tone of lament. But based on the quality of "The October Sky," Black may be singing a different tune.

You'd expect someone in Black's situation to try to hard to win you over - his next meal depends on it. Yet Black doesn't try to be more than he is - a folksy singer-songwriter who knows when to go sparse (the haunting "All I Need") and when to notch it up (the excellent "Pills to Help Me Sleep"). Black's music accomplishes a lot on "October Sky," but he never seems to force his easy style. It's his unassuming presence that makes Black's music so likeable.

His songwriting abilities help invite you closer. He has a way of stating his limits that help you identify with him, as on "Glory Hallelujah": "There's a million other people from here to Amsterdam/ And a million other singers who sing better than I can/ That's alright, cause you're here with me tonight."

That kind of refreshing lack of pretense give Black an immediate appeal, simply because of his honesty. None of the songs are spectacular, but they are all solid and October Sky is a disc that is easily enjoyed.

Get more at - Louisville Music News

"The October Sky"

“There’s a million other people / From here to Amsterdam / And a million other singers / Who sing better than I can / But that’s all right, ‘cause
you’re here / With me tonight / And there’s a million other great songs / being written as I sing… / But that’s all right, ‘cause you’re here / With
me tonight” Jon Black, “Glory, Hallelujah.”

Just a few years ago, South Carolina-based singer/songwriter Jon Black was living a Dilbertesque existence at a software company. After a wake up call in the form of a corporate fire drill, he decided to leave his day job to follow his dream of becoming a full-time musicians. We should all be thankful he did. Black’s latest indie release, The October Sky, is filled with likeable tunes and positive energy.

When he entered a Nashville studio back in October 2005, Black enlisted some heavy-hitters, including Grammy Award-winning producer Mitch Dane (Jars of Clay) and Grammy Award-winning mastering engineer Richard Dodd (Tom Petty, Wilco, Johnny Cash). The resulting recordings are evidence that following a dream can lead to great things. Black’s acoustic-based songs delve into the restlessness of spirituality and the comfort found in a relationship with the Creator.

The October Sky is the first fruit of Black’s full-time devotion to music, there’s stellar prospects for future releases. - Phantom Tollbooth

"Jon Black - Goodbye Golden Age"

Jon Black is yet another inexplicately little known musician oozing with talent. He's been paying his dues over the past few years, logging the necessary road miles to spread his music...which is good news for music fans. Black's newest full-length release is filled with songs of longing; searching for meaning in bad times and good.

The songs shift from high energy, folk rock to 50's blues/gospel to completitive songs with soft piano or acoustic guitar leading you into some deep thought. One of the best examples of this thoughtful bent is interwoven in the lyrics and melody on 'Broken Places' - "Lately I feel a lot like giving up / This road that I'm on is filled with twists and bumps." This song seems especially appropos in these uneasy times. And on 'Goodbye Golden Age,' he wistfully recalls days gone by while honoring America's rich musical past.

The eclectic nature of this collection, as well as the solid songwriting and Black's clear, strong singing voice, is reminiscent of Lyle Lovett's style...not a small feat. And, boy can Black hold a note - check out 'Mouth Of The Moon' as evidence. Don't let this guy pass you by. -

"Meet Jon Black"

Last time I reviewed Jon Black I asked why he wasn’t well known, this time I had no recall of having made the remark and had to be reminded by the press release, so I guess that answers my question, which is a pity because Black is a skilled songwriter and performer and here he shows off his talent across a range of styles. There’s "Run With All You’ve Got" which is a firebrand with Jason & the Scorchers logo all over it, there’s regret, melancholy and pedal steel in the road song "Drove to Knoxville", shimmering showers of notes in the gentle "April Showers" that opens the set and will usher many loiterers over the doorstep and once you step into the main room you’re hit with a blast of power pop courtesy of "Mouth of the Moon".

You could almost use the bleak "Broken Places" as a soundtrack to Cormac MaCarthy’s "The Road", "Ghost of Elvis" sounds like a depressed Clem Snide (a good thing). All extraneous sounds are banished from "Nothing But A Fire" all that is allowed is an acoustic guitar and Black’s fluid voice that flows around the notes. On this form there won’t be any danger of me needing to be reminded of who Jon Black is in the future. - Americana UK


Goodbye Golden Age (2008)
The October Sky (2006)
The Rhythm of the Rising Sun (2004)
Dry Ground (2001)



Jon Black is easily one of the south's best kept secrets... until now. Over the past two years he has shared the stage with Alejandro Escovedo, Ani DiFranco, Mark Kozolek, and many more; won a songwriting award for My Days Are Numbered and travelled by plane, train, and automobile to share his music with anyone willing to listen and engage.

Goodbye Golden Age, releasing on Rebuilt Records, is the much-anticipated follow-up to his 2006 release, The October Sky. Recorded over the span of a year in Oxford, Mississippi at Tweed Recordings with Andrew Ratcliffe (Will Hoge, Blue Mountain, The Damnwells) and DOMUS Studios in Cumming, Georgia with Paul Reeves, the arsenal of players on the record is stunning. Mixed by Andy Hunt (Glen Philips, Derek Webb) and Mastered by Matt Odmark from Jars of Clay, Goodbye Golden Age shows that Jon is growing in his artistry and that his comparisons to Jackson Browne, Ryan Adams, and Jay Farrarr are not in vain.

With the sonic backdrop of Americana music, Black's latest album dives deep into capturing the loneliness of the road, the hope of things to come, and the inspiration found at the end of your rope. Goodbye Golden Age is both an album of searching and finding, an honest display of fears in an uncertain world and a joyful reaction to following dreams, a friendly greeting and a quick punch to the gut. He says, "There's music you listen to at the moment and there's music you listen to forever. I really wanted to dig deep and give people something they could listen to when they need a reminder that most doubts, fears, joys, and triumphs are shared between all humans. Existence is hard but I've made it through with the help from some great artists. Hopefully this will inspire others to keep going."

If you want to know what a growing artist looks like and what happens when an artist is honest then look no further. This artist in Birmingham, Alabama is truly on the verge of becoming an important songwriter in the south and in modern Americana music.

"Jon is an amazing story teller. His words paint a picture as his melodies give pure heartfelt emotion. Each song took me to a new place and I loved every minute of it." - Andy Hunt

"...Black elevates his music to another level." - Mike Trobiano from The University of Tampa Minaret

"The eclectic nature of this collection, as well as the solid songwriting and Black’s clear, strong singing voice, is reminiscent of Lyle Lovett’s style…not a small feat. And, boy can Black hold a note - check out ‘Mouth Of The Moon’ as evidence. Don’t let this guy pass you by." -

"Black is a skilled songwriter and performer and here he shows off his talent across a range of styles." - Americana UK