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I grew up in a musical family where my dad was often buying broken instruments at garage sales, flea markets and pawn shops and fixing them up, so my house was almost like a music shop. My dad tried to teach me how to play guitar, but it wasn’t until I got the opportunity to play drums in the middle school band that I became interested in playing music. I started taking lessons and formed a band with my friends. My band, the Familiars, played anywhere we could, from house parties to local granges, and by the time I was in high school we were playing regularly around Seattle’s many venues. When I was 18 my grandpa gave me a banjo and I learned how to play it for my senior project. Shortly afterwards, I decided I was done playing drums in a band and focused more on playing banjo and acoustic guitar.
Spending all that time playing drums gave me a good sense of rhythm, which really helped me when I started learning jazz piano shortly after high school. During the time I was taking piano lessons, music theory really started to make sense to me. It was like playing drums, except now I could play chords. I also could now see how melodies were built out of chords. This really started to infuse into my guitar playing, which was also heavily influenced by the finger picking I had learned to do on the banjo. Since then I have continued to study guitar and music theory to continue to develop my own musical understanding with various guitar teachers in the Seattle area.
In addition to teaching private lessons, I have taught 8 week classroom courses in beginning banjo and songwriting through the UW experimental college.
In 2010, I released an album of my own solo material called, Youth is a Train. Shortly after that, my friends that I grew up playing music with needed a fill-in bass player for a month long national tour. I jumped on board with the Moondoggies, switched over to playing guitar after the tour was over, and have been working with them ever since. In addition to playing with the Moondoggies, I have also continued to perform as a solo act around Seattle, and accompany other local musicians such as Pepper Proud and Gabriel Mintz.
Video performances by Jon:
Guitar, pedal steel, tambourine – Moondoggies