Jon Call
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Jon Call

Portland, Maine, United States | SELF

Portland, Maine, United States | SELF
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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



"Call entertains lunch time crowd"

Call, a relatively fresh face on the Portland music scene, is creating quite the following. Aside from his amazing knack for melody, his voice is quite notable, sleek and strong. Call's jazzy tunes were accented by his folk song craft. Call definitely has what it takes to make the big time.

Lou Grassi-
20 Below -, 20 Below

"Livingston Taylor"

"I look at Jon and know that the future of music is in good hands"-
Livingston Taylor, The Maple Room 2008 - Livingston Taylor

"The Portland Phoenix CD Review"

Satisfying a growing crowd with a Playtime Music Session
By: SAM PFEIFLE, The Portland Phoenix

We’ve had the pleasure here in Portland of watching a number of great singer/songwriters develop their careers into something substantial recently. The path runs something like this: open mics with a guitar, album with a guitar, real shows with a guitar, real shows with a band, real album with a band, regional and national touring with and without a band. Jason Spooner and Emilia Dahlin come to mind immediately as the prototypes here, and now Jon Call seems poised to follow them. Right now, though, Call is floating somewhere in the middle of that trajectory, having reached the stage where he’s added to his live performance a bass and drums, known as the Foundation (which is fitting for a rhythm section), but also about to release a disc, The Playtime Music Session, that features just Call’s breathy alto (maybe he’s a high tenor) and a strummed guitar.

This isn’t entirely by design. “It was kind of supposed to be more of a demo,” Call says of the recording done with Tom Dube down in his Playtime Music Studio in Massachusetts, “but then Dube went on tour with Marc Cohn and we didn’t get together again.” Still, Call’s been getting some good gigs, including opening for Livingston Taylor on January 25 at Lewiston’s Maple Room. He needed something to sell at shows, and 2006’s Change just wasn’t of the quality he wanted to represent him.

Thus, while he may eventually re-record some of these songs with a band in a studio setting, he’s relatively happy with what he calls this recording’s “live feeling.” And it’s true that when you see Call live, this is pretty much what you get. But listening at home, Call’s considerable charisma doesn’t quite come through, and what are well-written songs at times fall a little flat, or simply seem to last too long. Live, that extra minute in a song is enjoyable, because you’ve got that visual input as an augmentation of the experience. On disc, some of the tunes that move past four minutes could probably be a little more radio-friendly (i.e., closer to 3:30).

This also has something to do with Call’s particular style and delivery. He has a tendency to use “I said” as pick-up notes into a line of a verse, or in building a refrain, for example, emulating soul singers like Sam Cooke or James Brown. He bangs on his guitar, building a rhythm and a considerable backing. He likes to tip in a bit of scat for a bridge. All of these, I think, are more endearing live.

And some performers, like John Mayer or Ani DiFranco, are just better live.

There remains, however, a lot to like on Call’s sophomore disc. Especially when Call lets his hair down and opens his voice up. Early in the disc, he can be breathy, but he’s got great timbre when he gets animated, especially on later tracks like “Addiction Song” and “All I Ever Wanted.” The former opens with a bluesy strut then picks up with a low-end bass-string run that introduces each line of the verse: “You gotta be a fool to want to stay the same.” Then comes a big bridge, a declaration of intent: “I need to be free of this misery that’s loving me/’Cuz if I choose to learn I can grow — eventually.”

He carries that intensity into “Wanted.” It’s like he has entered a trance and is speaking in tongues at some points, but the chorus is huge: “Somewhere over your heart there’s love/Somewhere inside your hear there’s gotta be a little bit of trust/And if you let down your walls/I’ll let down my walls for you.” He varies his delivery and cadence here especially well, leaving all kinds of room for a listener get inside his lines and embrace them.

Perhaps most redeemingly, Call does have an ability to deliver a line that really and truly memorable. “My Ship” requires some suspension of cynicism (am I the only one who thinks “Would it break my mast?/How long will this little ship last” is a dirty little couplet?), but see if your heart doesn’t break a little when Call sings, “I said last year’s gone babe/It’s time to go.”

Call has all the tools to be a great bandleader — charisma, songwriting, a knack with a love song, and a way with a guitar — and many of them are on display here. His fans won’t be disappointed when they take this album home and give it a spin after they’ve bought it at a show, but Call is going to need to fill his sound out for the radio and repeated online listens. - Sam Pfeifle

"Ten Maine bands to watch"

Go section Portland Press Herald

Jan 17th 2008


Twenty-four-year-old singer/songwriter/guitarist Jon Call arrived in Portland from western Massachusetts to attend the University of Southern Maine as a jazz major. He's spent the last four years gigging around the city and recording his songs.
Even though Call has a background in jazz, he doesn't classify his current style as jazz. It's more folk-pop, he says.
When you listen to Call's songs, the thing that really stands out is how upbeat they are. That happy sound is a conscious decision on his part, Call said.
"I'm an upbeat guy. I guess I haven't gotten into that dark spell yet. I hope I don't."
- The Portland Press Herald

"GO Section Review"

Portlander Jon Call's third CD is called "The Playtime Music Session" and he'll be celebrating its release on Saturday night. You can also catch him tonight on "207" on WCSH-TV. Call describes his musical style as acoustic/folk/reggae. I gave the CD a spin and here's my 2 cents worth on a couple of tracks that stood out for me. "This Is a Song for You," is a poignant essay that speaks of those who live way below the poverty line and in it Call shows honor and respect, not pity or judgment. "This is a song for you, I wish it weren't so true. It's not what we choose but what we do and how we do it too. It seems society is blinded and it's cold. Rich men say it's a burden you put on. That's why, for you I wrote this song." There's gorgeous acoustic guitar throughout and his Dylan-tinged voice hits home. "Energy" is a nifty little love song that's catchier than flypaper. "Let me circle round you, intensify your energy. Just let me shine through and give you a piece of me. We could go for coffee love, you could have a tea." - Aimsel Ponti

"The Rankin Files"

“Yet another 21 year old wonder hails from Portland, Maine. Jonathan Call plays his own brand of acoustic music. A mixture of roots rock, jazz, hip-hop, funk and folk. Call’s music is consistently interesting."

Mark Rankin-
The Rankin Files, IT Magazine
Portland, Maine. - It Magazine

"Nice Little Saturday"

"Jonathan Call warmed up a bilizzard-sprinkled Saturday with Damien Rice elegance, and a harmonica that was as insturmental as the Gritty's Black Fly Stout for a beautiful afternoon."

Face Magazine
Portland, ME
- Face Magazine


Album: The Playtime Music Session
Released: Feb. 23rd 2008

Album: Change
Released: Summer 2006

Album: Simple
Released: Summer 2004



Jon grew up listening to his father’s lullabies, his grandmother’s piano and his mother’s record collection of soul and country music. He credits his strong sense of rhythm to the days spent dancing around the house to those classic songs.

When his high school's Select Chorus group won the Gold Medal at an annual statewide music festival Jon went on to perform as a vocal soloist at Symphony Hall in Boston. He recalls, "It was a great feeling to sing my solo where so many wonderful musicians had performed."

After high school, Jon was accepted to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, again separating him from the musical pack. After careful consideration, he decided to overstep Berklee and begin working directly on his music career. Jon then relocated to Portland, Maine and attended the University of Southern Maine's intensive Jazz program while writing and recording music for his first release. “Simple” was released independently in 2004.

The summer of 2006 saw Jon performing in front of his largest audience to date, "as many people as the eye could see." The event was Portland, Maine’s annual Old Port Festival. His solo set was a huge hit with the crowd and his inventory of CDs sold out immediately after his performance. This reaffirmed his faith in people and their need for music as inspiration. 2006 also saw another independent release, “Change”. This sophomore release reveals Jon's maturity as a songwriter, reaching far beyond his age in years.

Jon has opened for artists ranging from regional favorites such as Jason Spooner to the legendary Livingston Taylor. About his fans, Jon says, "I think I get the most comments about my performance style. People tell me that it's been a long time since they have seen a solo performer have fun like I do onstage. I think of singing as a release, if the song makes me dance or stomp or jump, that's what it was suppose to do. If the song makes me think, then I think. The music dictates what I do, not the other way around."

Jon has played at:


The Maple Room
The North Star Cafe
The Common Ground Fair
Portland Peace Festival
The Dogfish Bar & Grille
One Longfellow Square
Granny's Burritos
The Asylum
Acoustic Coffee
Falmouth High School
Gorham Grind
The University of Southern Maine
Chickey's Fine Dinner
Spring Street


The Lizard Lounge
Mocha Maya's
Bridgeside Grille
Greenfield High School
Tufts University


The Blue Mermaid

Radio stations playing Jon's music:

WMFO 91.5 Tufts University,
WMPG 90.9 Universtiy of Southern Maine,
WCLZ 98.9 Portland ME,
WBLM 102.9 Portland ME


Finalist in the Starbucks Music Makers Competition 2007.