Jon Wikstrom
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Jon Wikstrom

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June 29, 2006

For centuries, love has been the motivation for innumerable songs. Tapping into that sometimes all-encompassing emotion, [Charleston] native Jon Wikstrom has come up with a passel of songs that are a paean to the love he shares with his wife Katherine. With passionate ballads ("When You Talk To Me") gentle grooves ("Baby Let's Take The Chance"), the Latin-tinged "In Return" and the string laden anthem "Wings of Goodbye," the songs are heartfelt to a fault and the sentiments should be enough to melt the coldest of hearts.

Produced by "Mountain Stage's" Ron Sowell, the disc features a handful of Nashville session players alongside a cast of characters that will be familiar to most West Virginians: pianists Bob Thompson and Randy Gilkey, drummer Ammed Solomon, former "Mountain Stage" bassist John Kessler, saxophonist Doug Payne, and David Porter on trumpet. While the songs are mostly piano based, Sowell's trademark production is ambitious, accenting and fleshing out the songs with strings, horns and bevies of backing vocals -- but always keeping Wikstrom's sensitive alto in the foreground. Singing songs in this genre is not an easy task and can invite some unwanted comparisons but, overall, Wikstrom handles the task deftly and, most of all, with passion and conviction.

Michael Lipton - Charleston Daily Mail


by Douglas Imbrogno
Nov. 17, 2006

If you go “The Dreamsicles” and Jon Wikstrom, 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Clay Center’s Walker Theater. Adults $12, seniors and students $7, children $2. Call 561-3570 or visit http://www.theclay/ center.org
Charleston native Jon Wikstrom has stepped out into the romantic limelight. He started pitching his original songs some years ago until someone suggested he should pitch them in his own smooth, honeyed voice. The result is "Reckless Devotion," an album of songs about love, devotion and romance. Media conglomerate Clear Channel OnLine has streaming audio of the CD on almost 200 of their radio station's websites. He opened recently for Livingston Taylor and is opening act for The Dreamsicles at Saturday's Woody Hawley Concert Series at the Clay Center's Walker Theater. Thegazz.com editor Douglas Imbrogno interviewed Wikstrom - who now lives in Baltimore with his wife, Katherine - via email.
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GAZZ: You didn't pick up a guitar until you were 20. How have you made your living since then and are you on your way to being a full-time musician?
WIKSTROM: I've worked a bunch of jobs, from being a lackey at a corporate lobbying firm in D.C., a researcher for
a private investment firm, and a brief (but memorable-to-me) stint as a nude figure model for art students. My wife Katherine supported me for all the years we were in Nashville, so I could write and network full time. I now have representation, a booking agent coming aboard in January, and plan to be full-time with the music in the coming year.
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Q: You first began writing and recording songs with the idea of pitching them in Nashville for others to sing. Who urged you to present them yourself?
A: I spent ten years in Nashville writing full-time, trying to get other artists to record my songs. I had a publishing arrangement with Sony, but I kept bringing them these jazzy romantic songs, which never had much of a chance down there in cowboy country. When I left Nashville, Ron Sowell and Scott Hill helped me realize that unless I recorded these songs myself, they would never live. So we got to it.
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Q: Your website cites Charleston's jazz piano great Bob Thompson is a musical hero. What inspiration do you take from Thompson?
A: My inspiration from Bob is the joy I always feel when I hear him play. He has all the technique and virtuosity in the world, but he uses it to serve the emotion and power in his gorgeous compositions. My lesson from Bob is something he told me about the first time he pitched his own work to a major label president when he was a young man. The record guy told Bob to come back when he had something so unique that if the world wanted it, it had to come to him for it. That always reminds me to stay true. Bob and I just played a show together at Carnegie Hall in Lewisburg, and played two of my songs together. It was very much a dream come true.
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Q:. Who are some of the musical models for the kind of songs you write? I hear James Taylor, Michael Franks -- who else?
A: I love great lyrics and strong melodies wherever I can find them. I don't sound much like my favorite artists: Irving Berlin, John Hiatt and Antonio Carlos Jobim. For me, there's also no getting around Hank Sr., Motown and Mac McAnally, and why would you want to?
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Q: These are some very romantic, heartfelt songs on "Reckless Devotion." Do women throw panties at you from the audience yet? Do you see yourself needing to come across as a bit of heartthrob?
A: I have not yet had to field any panties, though I'd be completely open to the experience. I don't try to be anybody but myself up there -- if I can make Katherine's heart throb a little every now and then, I'm happy.
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Q: Who is the audience you have in mind when you write/ perform songs?
A: I just think of the songs themselves. I sit still and listen as they show up in my head, and get them down on paper and tape as I think they "want" to be. I let the songs lead the process, because it always feels like they exist somewhere else and are showing themselves to me. Once the smoke has cleared from the songwriting process, I try to figure out what it is, and who might want to hear it. I do the same when I sing. The great Kim Parent (who does a duet with me on my album) once told me in the studio: "You've got to listen to the words as you sing them, and see all those pictures in your head all over again."
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Q: You've had a long partnership with Ron Sowell. What did he bring to the overall creation of 'Reckless Devotion'?
A: Ron and I are great friends, but he's also been a mentor to me. It's hard to sum up, but it's safe to say no one has encouraged and challenged me as much as Ron has. As for producing my record, Ron has a real old-school kind of knack for knowing how songs ought to feel, and how to bring the emotion out of them. From little mechanical things like tempo and key, to the big picture, he gets a visi - The Gazz, WV Gazette


January 19, 2007

Clear Channel Online Music & Radio, part of the massive Clear Channel entertainment and radio station conglomerate, announced this week that they would add Jon Wikstrom as an “Artist to Watch” on their NEW! website. NEW! brings the music world’s most promising emerging artists to almost 500 Clear Channel Radio station websites nationally.

“We really appreciate the support from Clear Channel,” said Wikstrom. “NEW! is a terrific resource for music lovers to hear a variety of musical styles from upcoming artists. Having a huge entertainment company like Clear Channel behind you is an incredible plus for any artist.” Wikstrom’s debut CD, Reckless Devotion, was also featured on Clear Channel’s smooth jazz and adult contemporary stations during November 2006, including WLTW New York, KOST Los Angeles and WLIT Chicago.

The past year has been a busy one for Wikstrom, with the release of his debut CD, a new strategic partnership with Grammy nominee Jim Brickman (who also recommended Jon’s new album to his online fan base), a round of radio and print interviews and reviews and performing with Livingston Taylor to name just a few of the highlights.

“The latest round of NEW! debuts with an amazing lineup of artists,” said Allison Skiff with Clear Channel On Line. “We are thrilled to have Jon Wikstrom as an Artist To Watch!”

NEW! gives users the chance to experience fresh talent while also getting to know the artist. Personal on-demand videos are also created by the artists exclusively for the program.

One of Clear Channel Radio’s most visited online destinations, NEW! has had over 5 million plays since January 2006. It has helped open the door for many artists who have become extremely successful in the music industry, including The Fray, Young Jeezy, Corinne Bailey Rae, James Blunt, Rihanna and many more.

To learn more about Jon Wikstrom, visit www.jonwikstrom.com or www.myspace.com/jonwikstrom. To find out more about NEW! and Jon’s music there, visit www.clearchannelmusic.com/new or one of the more than 490 participating Clear Channel Radio station websites across the USA.
- Press Release


Discography

Jon Wikstrom's debut CD "Reckless Devotion" featuring the single "Baby, Let's Take The Chance". Listen for Jon and his music nationwide on NPR and other stations, and online at www.jonwikstrom.com.

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Bio

Singer/Songwriter Jon Wikstrom got a late start in the music game; he was a 20-year old Charleston, West Virginia, native halfway through college at Duke when the music bug bit and he picked up a guitar for the first time.

Jon remembers, "I had just taken an end-of-the-school-year trip to Key West with three friends. We all had crammed into a Volkswagen beetle and driven 3,000 miles with maybe one clean shirt each, and cassettes of ten Jimmy Buffett albums to pass the time. In fact, we went to Key West to hang out with Jimmy Buffett. Mr. Buffett was likely not even there, nor had he been informed that four morons were expecting to vacation with him. I returned home powerfully sick of Jimmy Buffett songs. And then about a week later, I realized I was really missing Jimmy Buffett songs - to the point that I decided I needed to buy a guitar right then and start learning to play some of them. So I did."

Then, after graduating from Duke (with a degree in history, of all things), Wikstrom began to ply his musical craft, playing bars and coffeehouses from West Virginia to Florida before settling into the Washington/Baltimore music scene. He worked on Capitol Hill by day, and by night watched local musicians like Mary-Chapin Carpenter reach for the brass ring in Nashville. A move to Music City soon followed for Jon.

This turned into nearly eight years as a working songwriter in Nashville for Jon, who says, "I loved it there, but never really fit in. I wasn't nearly country enough for Nashville." Despite Wikstrom's lack of boots, twang and appropriate headwear, Jon nonetheless enjoyed successful songwriting stints with Sony Music Publishing and worked with some of the top songwriters on Music Row and up and coming artists of the time, including Sara Evans.

Passion to do his own music his own way led Jon back to the Washington/Baltimore area as a base. Jon made frequent trips home to West Virginia to record his debut CD "Reckless Devotion," an album full of romance, longing and love in the vein of Norah Jones and Diana Krall. The album also features guest musicians and songwriters from Jon's Nashville days, as well as ace production from Ron Sowell of Public Radio International's hugely influential "Mountain Stage" program.

Today, Jon, his wife Katherine, and their two kids live between Baltimore and Washington in a home filled with music, laughter and Jon's Taylor Guitars.