ARTIST NAME:   JON SPEAR BAND

 

SONG TITLE:   Geographical Cure

 

ALBUM TITLE:   Hot Sauce

 

RELEASE DATE:   July 2017

 

GENRE:  ROCK / POP / BLUES

 

 

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JON SPEAR BAND REVIEWS

” Hot Sauce is one of the finest albums I have heard in a while.  Well-rooted in the blues, and never straying far from those roots, Spear and the guys lay down solid music, whether it is straight blues, blues with a Latin flair, rockabilly, slow-burnin’ R&B or somewhere in between.  The tunes, all penned by Spear and the other band members, are exceptionally well-written and performed with a level of passion not often heard these days.  Spear is also developing into one of the finest storytellers I’ve encountered…straight to the point, these stories are absolutely believable and incredibly powerful…  The more I hear from Jon and the band, the more impressed I become.  This is 100% the real deal…This is perhaps their best work to date.

– Bill Wilson, Reflections in Blues (July 2017)

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“I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Hot Sauce, by Jon Spear Band and I quite like it. Opening with Bottom of the Bottle, Jon Spear Band gets into a really nice groove somewhat like Come and Go Blues but with more texture, cooler guitar riffs and better vocals for my taste. With Dara James on guitar, harp and vocal, Jon Spear on guitar and vocal Andy Burdetsky on bass and vocal John Stubblefield on drums and vocals, this is a super opener.”

– Bman’s Blues Report, August 11, 2017

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“The Jon Spear Band is the band that said, “Live music is better,” and they took over the Tin Pan’s spacious stage and filled it with some of the best music I’ve heard in quite a while. With only four pieces in the band, Dara James on lead guitar and vocals; Jon Spear on rhythm guitar and vocals, Andy Burdetsky on bass and backing vocals; and John Stubblefield on drums, they managed to create the sound of a much larger group.  James is a guitar wizard who can move from playing a standard lead to delivering a blistering break that could actually cause the audience to break into applause before he even finished playing. Spear is a helluva player as well, great on the vocals, and writes most of the band’s material.  . Burdetsky is a very animated bass player who made several songs come to life and Stubblefield is a very underrated drummer who threw in some great fills throughout the night.  Together, the four of them dropped some great blues in support of their latest album Hot Sauce, and mixed up a very spicy meal.”

– Professor Johnny P’s Juke Joint (July 2017)

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“Hot Sauce is a solid collection of blues tunes . . . And there is a little something for everybody in it.  It is nice to see a band put the time and effort into writing and working out an entire disc of new music, and fortunately it has very good production too.

– Blues Blast Magazine (July 28, 2017)

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With the Jon Spear Band, you can always bet your last money that the music will be excellent, and the songs built either for the dance floor or to make you think. Everything goes good with “Hot Sauce!”

– Don & Sheryl’s Blues Blog (July 23, 2017)

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“This new disc from the Jon Spear Band is their best yet! Plenty of great playing on a dozen original songs that span a variety styles.”

Professor Bebop WTJU FM (July 11, 2017)

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“Welcome back Jon Spear Band, you have done it again! You have created another masterpiece that encompasses so many elements of roots music and not just blues. The light and shade of this album is stunning and weaves an intricate story that is so very entertaining. The Jon Spear Band have created an album ‘their’ way and not a clone of somebody else.”

– Peter Merrett, PBS106.7, Melbourne, Australia.

 

 

HOT SAUCE

​★ “a well-played collection of rootsy rock originals …the recording features a clean stripped-down sound and deep, in-the-pocket grooves that result when a band develops into a tight-knit unit from extensive live gigs.”

–  Living Blues Magazine

 

★ “Hot Sauce gives further proof to the fact that The Jon Spear Band is one of the most talented bands playing the blues right now. They show an amazing versatility with their music, mixing blues, soul, and rock in equal measures. The two-headed vocal/guitar attack with Spear and James is highly effective and the rhythm section is most righteous. Add a highly unique songwriting approach that includes entertaining party songs, interesting story songs, and other thought-provoking fare, and you’ve got a disc that deserves to heard and heard again”

– Graham Clarke, Blues Bytes

 

★ “With the Jon Spear Band, you can always bet your last money that the music will be excellent, and the songs built either for the dance floor or to make you think.”

– DonandSherylsBluesBlog.

 

LIVE MUSIC IS BETTER
★ “This is the real deal…blues as it was meant to be played”.

– Bill Wilson “Reflections in Blue”

 

★ “Four superbly talented musicians plus stellar guests have produced an album that epitomizes how live Blues should be played.”

 Peter Merrett, PBS 106.7FM Melbourne

 

★ “This CD would make a welcome addition to any blues lovers collection”

– Professor Johnny P’s Juke Joint (AKA John Porter) 

 

★  “Live Music Is Better is a rock solid set that gives fans and newcomers a nice summary of how good a band the Jon Spear Band really is, especially on stage.”

– Graham Clarke, Blues Bytes Magazine

 

★  “Virginia-based singer/guitarist Spear and his talented band released their debut, Old Soul, in 2015, an album which finished in the Top 25 of the Roots Music Report’s Top Contemporary Blues Albums.  Spear’s been around since the early 60’s, but recently connected with a phenomenal young talent, singer/guitarist Dara James, who is a blues star in the making……a gifted guitarist, singer, and songwriter whose style works perfectly with Spear’s…. Live Music Is Better provides a great look at one of the most underrated bands currently practicing.

– Friday Blues Fix

 

★ “We had two favorites – the fellows lay down a sweet Chicago-styled blues groove as Jon takes lead vocal and Dara blows some serious harp on “Shake Your Boogie!”  And, the highlight of the set, for us, belonged to Dara James and his slow-burnin’ blues guitar lines on the classic “Have You Ever Loved A Woman.”

– Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society

© Alan Grossman

 

 

OLD SOUL

★  “[The Jon Spear Band’s] debut release, “Old Soul”, is a stunning reminder to all and sundry that skill, practice and years of live performing enables you to shine like a true glittering star without reliance upon vacuous tinsel twinkling internet driven media videos.  Across the ten numbers here, is an atmosphere of relaxed confidence, combined with second nature playing all wrapped up in invitingly assured arrangements whether they have forays into soul, blues, country, rock R&B, funk, swing, or even a little salsa, it is all delivered with enticing aplomb.”

– Bluesinthenorthwest.com (July, 2015)

 

★ “Spear and company put into words and music what all of us know and have experienced but might not have the ability to express. Running as smoothly as a well-oiled machine, this band operates as a single unit…each member doing their part. The result is a work of absolute beauty. The guitar work and vocals on this piece are absolutely sublime…and the rhythm section is right on the money. Adding an assist from Ron Halloway on sax on “Old Soul” and Nate Brown on congas on “Mean Mean Woman” and “Can’t Help Myself” is just the icing on the cake… ‘Nuff said…this is good stuff.” – Bill Wilson, “Reflections in Blue,”  

★  “The Jon Spear Band is a talented quartet with more than enough experience and creativity to get the job done.  Jon Spear is the leader and main songwriter for the band, and on this record he provides guitar and vocals.  He was joined in the studio by Dara James (also on vocals and lead guitar), John Stubblefield on the skins, and Andy Burdetsky on bass.  For a small group they have a big sound, and you will like what they have to offer on this collection of nine originals and one awesome cover tune.  Besides their more obvious talents, they also give back to the art and are active participants in the Central Virginia Blues Society.   This is a strong debut from the Jon Spear Band, and throughout all ten tracks they present top-shelf musicianship, mature songwriting, and a most importantly, a good time for the listener.

– ” Blues Blast Magazine, June 2015

 

★ “[The Devil’s Highway] is one of those kind of songs that lyrically and musically could fit nicely into several music genres. It’s blues, it’s rock and give it to Toby Keith and it’s a number one country hit. Well written, well sung and well performed.”

– Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro. Blues Editor @

 

★ “Old Soul is a highly enjoyable set of blues and soul that features some impressive original tunes. The veteran Spear, the rock-solid rhythm section, and the gifted young James proves to be a winning combination on this release.”

– Graham Clarke. Blues Bytes Magazine

 

★ “Forever Home is a laid back country blues track with strong radio appeal. A light slide guitar riff behind the clear vocals of James makes this track an absolute pop standout. With its jazzy attack and nice harp work, this track is the most well rounded track on the release.”

– Bman’s Blues Report

 

★ “The Jon Spear Band bring excellent musicianship, strong lyrics, and a rising star in young Dara James.  ‘Old Soul’ is a fine debut from some of Virginia’s finest!”

– Sheryl and Don Crow donandsherylsbluesblog.

 

★ “This central Virginia band has a definite old soul when it comes to their heartfelt nod to blues and soul, running a gamut of delectable styles. Some very intelligent songwriting, excellent musicianship and lyrics that delve into deep recesses one second and speak plainly the next flavor this debut with vibrant life and listenability”

– Mark E. Waterbury Music Morsels Reviews

 

★ “Not many groups can boast two virtuoso guitarists as The Jon Spear Band does and few can match the writing skill of [Jon] Spear and [Dara] James.”

– Peter Merrett of PBS 106.7 FM, Melbourne Australia

 

 

 

Tell us your history.

The band was first organized in 2012 through the Central Virginia Blues Society, which organizes blues-related activities and jams on a regular basis.  We enjoyed our playing and improvising, and decided to attempt a more serious collaboration.  After a few gigs and a very positive crowd response, the Jon Spear Band was born and is now in its 7th year with just a few personnel changes.  The current lineup includes Dara James (guitar, vocals and harmonica), Andy Burdetsky (bass), John Stubblefield (drums), and Jon Spear (guitar and vocals).

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Describe yourself as an artist.

The artistry of the band arises from our success at combining multiple influences.  Jon, the oldest member, started playing in the ‘50s and was heavily influenced by the rockabilly, jump and swing hits of that time, as well as the social upheaval of the ‘60s.  The youngest member, Dara, is a modern electric blues guitarist who also sings and plays harp, and compares favorably to Eric Clapton and Joe Bonamassa.  Andy is a funk-loving bassman who coaxes a lot of notes out of just a few strings.  And drummer John Stubblefield is a straight-ahead rocker who learned his trade during the British invasion.  When we first joined up, we openly wondered if we could successfully blend all those different styles and influences, and worried that all the music would simply fall to the lowest common denominator.  Instead, we found synergies in our varied styles and combined that with writing original songs, and that’s given us a sound that’s unique and immediately-recognizable.

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Tell us the genre of your music.

Our music is best described as blues rock, or blues-influenced rock with a bit of an old school flavor.  That said, we’re not purists and if we hear something we like, we’ll play it even if it may fall outside the blue or rock category.   Geographical Cure was written with a slightly Latin or calypso feel which together with congas by guest artist Nate Brown, gives it a feeling of inviting new places.

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Tell us the story behind your song.

This song started life over 20 years ago when Spear was involved in writing a rock opera based on the parable of the Prodigal Son.  The project was never completed and the song stayed on the shelf until Spear dusted it off a few years ago for the band which liked it enough to include it on the 2017 “Hot Sauce” CD.   The idea behind the song is that sometimes a fresh start in a new location can be the best way to deal with issues.  So, if things aren’t going well for you, you’re not a tree – you can move!

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Tell us the problems you are facing as a musician.

The major problem faced by musicians today is keeping pace with technological changes that are driving a music industry transition from CDs to downloading to streaming as the main way people purchase and listen to music.  This has forced many musicians to focus on promotion and touring to replace the revenue that used to be created by record sales.  This is tough for musicians who would prefer to spend their time in the creative process of writing and recording music rather than on the road or pushing social media campaigns.  The Hot Sauce album itself was financed through a Kickstarter campaign and we are very grateful to all our friends and fans who contributed to offset the cost of the CD and all the related expenses.

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Discuss the recording and production of the song.

The entire Hot Sauce CD was recorded at Ravensworth Studios in Scottsville VA with our producer, Andy Waldeck.  Andy is a great mentor and the studio location, on 23 wooded acres, is very conducive to creative work.  While our previous albums were mostly songs we’d been performing in public for a while, the Hot Sauce CD is comprised entirely of newly written material.  That meant we had to do a lot arranging and rewriting in the studio.  After the songs were mixed down by Waldeck, the final mastering was done at UE Nastasi of Sterling Sound in New York City.

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Elaborate on your music career, experience and future goals.   The band’s members have a combined total of over 150 years’ experience in making music, but we don’t have 150 years’ worth of income to show for it.  That can only mean one thing – we do it because we love it, not because we expect to make a lot of money from it.  So, we all have day jobs along with family obligations and balancing those competing demands is always a challenge. That said, the people in our band have an inborn love of music and will continue to forge ahead.  The future will very likely see us release some more new music in the next few years while building our presence on the touring circuit.

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Brief us what inspires you to write, compose and sing.

Bono said “Music can change the world, because it can change people.”  That pretty much sums our inspiration as musicians.  If we can use our music to make people happier, more loving, more thoughtful, more accepting of others, and find more joy in life, we will consider ourselves wildly successful.  We’ve had several people tell us that our song “I Love My Skin” has changed their life. Can you imagine that?  A song we created has changed lives.  What more could we ask for?

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Brief us the top-secret behind making a hit song. 

If we knew this for sure, we’d bottle and sell it!  We strongly suspect it takes a lot of hard work and maybe a little talent along with some serendipity – and having a memorable and enjoyable song can’t hurt either!

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Tell the advice you will give to an upcoming artist.

Pursue a career in music because you love it, not because you’re counting on success. That way, you’ll be happy no matter what happens. Also, be prepared to stick with it for as long as it takes to get a break.  Some artists may appear to be overnight successes but if you study their careers, you’ll find out they’ve been working for years, and some never make it at all to the big time.  The important thing is to enjoy the journey and don’t get too preoccupied with the destination.  Finally, don’t try to be someone else.  If you do achieve wider success, it will be because you are unique and entertaining, not because you’ve copied someone else.

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Discuss at length your music careers, albums, songs, tours, recognition or awards you might have received. 

Recent highlights include:

Blues Blast Magazine nominee for Best Live Blues Recording of 2016.

 

Opened for nationally touring acts including Debbie Davies, Delbert McClinton, Anson Funderburgh, the Iguanas, the Chris Duarte Group, Memphis Gold, and more.

 

Selected to compete at the 31st and 33rd International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN.

 

2017 IBC Finalist for “lLive Music is Better” for Blues Foundation Best Self-Produced CD award.

 

Released three critically acclaimed CDs all of which charted in the US, UK, France, and Australia.

 

2016 WAMMIE nominee for best Blues/Traditional R&B Recording (Washington Area Music Association).

 

Extensive airplay on over 100 stations worldwide, including SiriusXM Bluesville Rack of Blues “Picks  to Click” (May 2016).

 

Favorable reviews from numerous publications including Living Blues Magazine and Blues Blast Magazine.

 

The members are:

JON SPEAR – Award-winning singer-songwriter and guitarist Jon Spear doesn’t admit how long he’s been performing but here’s a hint: Jon was in a band that opened for the Isley Brothers at the Capital Theatre in Port Chester NY when Twist and Shout was top-40 hit.  Since then, Jon has performed with numerous bands from New York on down through DC and Virginia, playing a wide range of styles including swing, rockabilly, classic rock and blues. His electric playing has been influenced by such guitar greats as Hollywood Fats and Debbie Davies

 

DARA JAMES – Dara James is an amazing young talent with outstanding vocal, guitar and harmonica skills far beyond his years. Dara’s grandfather gave him his first harmonica when he was about 5 and he joined his first band with his father – Upland Express – at the age of 11, and stayed with them for 10 years playing regularly around central Virginia.  He started playing guitar in the band when he was 14. Since then Dara has pursued a number of solo, band and recording projects.  Dara has also won several songwriting awards.

 

ANDY BURDETSKY – Bassist Andy Burdetsky has been playing bass since his junior high school days back in the mid 70’s. Andy was born and raised in the D.C. area where he was influenced by such great musicians as the Nighthawks, Danny Gatton and Charlie Byrd. Andy has shared the stage and/or sat in with such musical greats as Koko Taylor, NRBQ, Nighthawks, Roy Buchanan, Nils Lofgren, Stephen Stills and has had the honor of being Big Bill and Mud Morganfield’s bass player on several occasions when they have played in town.

 

JOHN STUBBLEFIELD – Drummer John Stubblefield started playing drums around the time the Beatles made their US debut. His dad owned radio stations and he grew up loving all styles of music. In college he played with The Charlottesville Blues Allstars (later called just The Allstars). During those years he opened often for the Nighthawks playing clubs in Virginia and DC.  In addition to the Jon Spear Band, John currently plays swing and blues with Bluzonia and original folk rock with the Eric Heinsohn Band. John has been building drums for 10 years and has drummers all over gigging and recording with his custom drums.

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Tell us how you write your lyrics, compose, sing and record in the studio. 

No two songs are written the same way.  Some arise organically with the words and lyrics coming together at the same time. Our song “Forever Home” was written at the request of a local animal shelter that wanted to encourage pet adoption.  “Wintertime” was prompted by our producer’s suggestion that we needed a slow song for our CD and that a hard luck story might be the right choice.  Hot Sauce grew out of bassist Andy Burdetsky’s appreciation of hot chili peppers.  Dara and Jon found the initial inspiration for Natchez Burning in an airline magazine squib about tourist destinations in Mississippi.  Once in the studio, our producer Andy Waldeck has a chance to listen to our songs with fresh ears and suggest changes based on his many years of music industry experience.

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Name your favourite artists for collaboration.

Among our favorites are saxophonist Ron Holloway who guested on two of our CDs.  We appreciate that because Ron’s talents are in great demand as he has played with the Allman Brothers Band, Susan Tedeschi, Dizzy Gillespie, Gil Scott-Heron, Root Boy Slim and Warren Haynes.   Another of our favorites is keyboardist Butch Taylor who appeared with Dave Matthews Band from 1997 to 2008, performing both on tour and studio albums.  To complement the work of our own talented drummer, John Stubblefield, we often turn to Nate Brown who is Publisher and Editor-In-Chief of OnlineDrummer.com, Alfred Publishing author and Drum! Magazine Groove Analysis video instructor.   One of the band’s mentors is bassist, producer and songwriter Andy Waldeck whose band Earth To Andy toured nationally with Stone Temple Pilots, Fuel and Tonic.  Andy’s songwriting has landed him notable cuts with artists such as Daughtry, David Cook, and others.

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Tell us how you will spend a million dollars. 

We would underwrite a European tour.

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Discuss music promotion and how you are boosting your fan base. 

Promotion requires a band to walk a thin line between staying in touch with fans without being too pushy or self-serving.  We use an email list and Facebook along with our website, Instagram and Twitter to let people know about our upcoming gigs and share interesting developments. We trying to avoid puffery and instead build our following through steady gigging and lots of personal contact.

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Tell us how you manage other activities with your music career.

The band schedules activities in a way that assures everyone has free time for the personal things that are important, especially day-jobs, vacations, friends and family.  This sometimes means we have to decline a high-profile gig but we think preserving personal sanity and relationships are more important.  Many years from now the band will be ancient history but hopefully our loved ones will still be around us, so they have to come first.

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State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.   

We chose Jon Spear Band because it’s short and not likely to be confused with other band names.  Although Jon Spear has his name on the band, we all have an equal say on all band decisions.

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State the title of the album and the reason for choosing the title.

We usually name our CDs after one of the tracks and in this case, we thought “Hot Sauce” was a good all-round name.

 


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