Jon Shain and FJ Ventre
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Jon Shain and FJ Ventre

Band Blues Acoustic

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Music

Press


"Army Jacket Winter review"

"Shain is a blues guitar guy with terriffic Piedmont style finger picking chops, but here he proves that he's a songwriter, too. The clean production makes each arrangement shine and his band is top notch..."

- --Jamie Anderson, Sing Out! magazine


"Army Jacket Winter review"

"The first song on Jon Shain’s new disc, a cover of Tom Petty’s “Time to Move On,” is a pretty fair indicator of what you get with Shain. Which is not to say Tom Petty, mind you, but a Wildflowers-era mix of fingerpick blues, gentle-yet-wry lyricism, and more than a little bit of warmth—in other words, comfy as the old G.I. castoff and thrift-store favorite referenced in the title. The sixth release on his own Flyin’ Records (named after Shain’s old duo Flyin’ Mice), Winter sees the North Carolinian moving in more of a Randy Newman direction, and frankly, it looks rather good on him. Subtle accordion, nylon-string guitar, dobro and grand piano all share in the mix with Shain’s trusty (if rusty) Silvertone acoustic here, and the result, more often than not, is golden."

--Timothy Davis, Harp magazine (July 2007) - Harp


"Home Before Long review"

"A solo set by a fine North Carolina singer-songer with hella guitar chops marinated in swing, ragtime, and piedmont blues. The former rocker mixes rustic tales of the new South (“Scratch Card Sally”) and old (“Joe Turner Ridin’ Down Main Street”) with beateous evergreens like “Pretty Peggy-O"."

--Richard Gehr, The Village Voice, NY, NY (Nov. 2005) - Village Voice


"Home Before Long review"

"..his guitar-playing is impeccable...a bluesy groove that still leaves room for mysterious wide open spaces..."

--David Menconi, News and Observer, Raleigh, NC (April 2005) - News and Observer


Discography

Jon Shain, Army Jacket Winter, Flyin' Records, CD 2007
Jon Shain, Home Before Long, Flyin' Records, CD 2005
Jon Shain, No Tag No Tail Light, Flyin' Records, CD 2003
Jon Shain, Fools and Fine Ladies, Flyin' Records, CD 2001
Jon Shain, Brand New Lifetime, Flyin' Records, CD 1999

Photos

Bio

Jon Shain (acoustic guitar, vocals)

Jon Shain 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, Shain 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 Shain also got to meet and play with John Dee Holeman and a number of the 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 the real-world blues music is what has most informed his musical direction.

Jon began performing his music fulltime in 1989, when a fledgling record label out of Chapel Hill, NC took a chance on his roots-rock band Flyin’ Mice. They did several albums and toured incessantly around the East Coast. In addition to the clubs and festival circuit, Flyin' Mice had many opportunities to play with musical heroes such as Hot Tuna, John Hammond, The Dixie Dregs, Peter Rowan, Tony Rice, David Grisman, and Leon Russell.

When Flyin’ Mice and its alt. country leaning spin-off group, WAKE, finally broke up in 1998, Shain was ready to start a career under his own name. His writing now reflected a more mature vision of the world around him, and the recurrent theme has been his own battle between optimism and the world-weariness brought on by experience. Shain has made the successful transition from playing with a rock band in bars to playing acoustic music in the listening room setting, keeping up the live energy while relishing the chance to connect more deeply with audiences. He's the rare folkie who truly brings the "chops" to his songs along with the lyrics. Shain's made great strides in the last few years, playing esteemed rooms such as Passim in Cambridge, MA, Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, NY, and Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem, PA in addition to doing some of the highest profile shows of his career – opening sold out theatre shows for John Hiatt, Keb’ Mo’, Little Feat, and others. Shain's latest CD, Army Jacket Winter, has received rave reviews from magazines such as Relix, Sing Out! and Harp.

When Shain is not recording or performing, he stays busy giving private instruction in Piedmont blues fingerstyle guitar, and teaching group workshops in songwriting and blues guitar. Whether in the one-on-one atmosphere of the teaching studio or onstage sharing a song with a roomful of strangers, Jon Shain is a natural communicator, keeping students and fans coming back for more.

F.J. Ventre
(upright bass, percussion, vocals)

F.J. Ventre and Jon Shain began playing music together in the early 80's while attending high school. Starting his career on guitar and vocals before switching to electric bass, Ventre eventually found himself in-demand as a skilled and energetic upright bass player. He enrolled in the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, earning a B.A. in Music Performance and Sound Recording. Ventre remained in Boston to cut his teeth in the city's vibrant music scene with such local favorites as the Invaders, the Shods, Bleu, and the Fall City Kings.

Since relocating to Chapel Hill, NC in 2000, Ventre has already performed and recorded with a number of the most successful blues and rock bands in the state, in addition to fronting his own popular rock-a-billy group Edsel 500. Ventre has also spent time behind the mixing board, engineering both at his home studio, as well as at the acclaimed Rubber Room in Chapel Hill, NC.