Jon Shain

Photo of Jon Shain.

Welcome to Jon Shain's press page. In addition to several downloadable resources, including hi-res promo images and a detailed presskit, there are several excerpted reviews of Jon's recordings and live shows.

Press Kit Downloads

  • The onesheet for Jon’s latest release, Crow the Dawn (Adobe Acrobat required)  (download)
  • Hi-res color live shot of Jon by Kim Hawks #1  (download)
  • Hi-res color shot of Jon's latest album,
    Crow the Dawn   (download)
  • Hi-res color promo headshot of Jon by Mike Traister #1  (download)
  • Hi-res b+w live shot of Jon and Joe by John Gessner   (download)
  • Hi-res color promo shot of Jon by Mike Traister   (download)
  • Hi-res b+w promo shot by Mike Traister   (download)


“ Jon Shain’s sly Piedmont roots feel authentic and fresh on last year’s Reupholstered, which exceeds even his high standards.”
Chris Parker, Indy Week (July, 2015)
“Jon Shain brings a fingerpicked folk sound that sparkles like fine crystal with similar delicacy and scintillation. He's well versed in Piedmont country blues but equally adept at soft-spoken story-songs, delivered in a dry, easygoing tenor.”
Chris Parker, The Independent Weekly (April 11, 2012)
“Jon Shain's latest solo album, Times Right Now, is his usual stew of country, blues, ragtime, and bluegrass. Shain continues to put out high quality tunes that are executed exceptionally and full of southern flair. There's no denying the technical skills of Jon Shain and his bandmates. They do a great job of expressing the subtle differences among the various styles. Their blues has a grit to it and their ragtimes display humor.”
Triangle Music blog, Dec., 2009
“What makes Jon Shain's Army Jacket Winter rise above the wealth of earnest singer/songwriter material available is the charming atmosphere he creates.”
John Patrick Gatta, Relix magazine (Oct. 2007)
“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 (Oct. 2007)
“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)
“Jon Shain is proof that singer/songwriters with brilliant acoustic fingerstylings and insightful lyrics are still around and going strong. Shain's Army Jacket Winter is an array of stories about love and restlessness, backed by acoustic/electric guitars, accordion and dobro. Fans of Keb Mo, Jimmy Buffett and Randy Newman will dig Shain's mood on this album.”
Kathleen Wehle, Southeast Performer Magazine,
Atlanta, GA (July 2007)
“The first person that came to mind while hearing [Shain] was Jeff Tweedy, that honesty and upfront feeling of a voice, guitar, and a harmonica, nowhere to run but into your consciousness. Many of his songs are about emotion, whether those he feels, or observing the world and wondering what the next man or woman is feeling. This is evident in pieces such as “Another Month Of Mondays”, “To Rise Again” (a song about a post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans), and “Throne Of Gold”, where the passion in his voice, the lyrics, and his playing is enough to make you want to open a bottle and drink your miseries away…Is Shain a depressing songwriter, not at all, but that tradition of writing blues-influenced lyrics with country and folk compassion is what makes his songs work. It's honest and to the point, it will make you want to yell out loud “Yes, Jon Shain, I know exactly what you mean.” Shain deserves to be heard, and I hope he will continue doing this for many years to come.”
John Book, (May 2007)
“Jon Shain has done it again. His latest album, Army Jacket Winter, is superb. The disc is the latest chapter in this pilgrim's progress and, yet again, his latest is his best to date…Shain's songwriting is stellar, as is his guitar work. He really has reached a level of creative excellence that guarantees his songs are consistently literate, intriguing and musically nuanced. The arrangements that underpin the tracks are uncluttered yet rich in sonic ideas that elevate the album well beyond the scope of commonplace singer-songwriter discs.”
Philip Van Vleck, Herald-Sun, Durham, NC (May 2007)
“Jon -There's a reason you're getting great reviews—it's a very solid CD!”
John Platt, WFUV, NY, NY (June 2007)
“The new Army Jacket Winter from former Flyin' Mice/WAKE guy Jon Shain is his best yet, and there hasn't been a thing shabby about his previous releases.”
Rick Cornell, Independent Weekly,
Durham, NC (May 2007)
“Delivered with grit and emotion, Home Before Long shows Shain reaching his destination.”
RL, Sing Out! magazine (Winter 2006 issue)
“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)
“There's a great deal to love about the overall vibe of Home Before Long. Shain has struck a happy medium between his folk tendencies and his affinity for rock. He isn't quite doing folk-rock here, but rather, a style of modern folk that's intelligently informed by rock—and Shain does this as well as anybody out there…Shain has yet again done the best work of his career on his latest album.”
Philip Van Vleck, Dirty Linen magazine (Sept. 2005)
“Durham, NC's Jon Shain has guitar and will travel—preferably through as many genres as his nimble pickin' fingers will allow him. His fourth solo album Home Before Long finds the ex-Flyin' Mice guitarist again pairing up with producers Dave Mattacks and Tom Dube for a trip through folk-song confessionals, roadhouse blues and moody remakes (folk standard “Pretty Peggy-O” never sounded so serene). His back-up trio anchored by FJ Ventre's upright bass, John Currie's empathic dobro and Bill Newton's barroom blitz harmonica seemingly send everything back in time—either the real days of riding the rails or that early '60s Vanguard period(you take your pick). In either case, a fine time to escape to.”
Rob O'Connor, Relix magazine (July 2005)
“With his facility across folk, country, bluegrass, and blues styles, Shain recalls John Prine, and like Prine, he is a talented writer whose charms reside both in the songs and the way he sings them. Shain's tenor croon is a lot more velveteen than Prine's, but whether fingerpicking a bubbling ballad or delivering a slow-cooked folk-blues jam, he infuses the songs with an easy-going vibe that's hard to resist.”
Chris Parker, Independent Weekly,
Durham, NC (July 2005)
“… 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)
“Produced by Boston-based drummer Dave Mattacks, a Fairport Convention veteran who also plays on the album, No Tag, No Tail Light is a ramble through commonplace lives. Sweet simple love songs tumble into remembrances of friends and futures lost. Escape fantasies dwell next to internal examinations and calls to personal action. “Merrimack” does the best job of creating a sense of place in Shain’s lyrics. For the most part, it’s the music—especially his roiling John Hurt–like picking on Philly Girl—that conjures idealized visions of the American landscape as a place of open roads, open hearts, and open wounds.”
Ted Drozdowski, Boston Phoenix (Nov. 2004)
No Tag, No Tail Light: Jon Shain crosses rich musical terrain in this, his third and finest solo release. Shain takes us on a breezy, open-air train ride through the history of American music, moving seamlessley through folk, swing, ragtime, piedmont and country blues. His approach is equal parts humorous, love struck and world-weary, all with a homespun flair.”
Rob Turner, Relix magazine (Mar. 2004)
No Tag, No Tail Light is a beacon of sonic serenity, virtuosic in form but easygoing in delivery. Armed with an elastic set of pipes, Shain picks'n'grins his way through an incredibly diverse set.”
Fred Mills, No Depression magazine (Sept. 2003)
“If you like your singer-songwriters with a heavy dose of great fingerstyle blues guitar, you'll love this album.”
Jamie Anderson, Sing Out! magazine (Dec. 2003)
“I just can't write anything negative about this album. For a simple reason: it's nothing less than fantastic.”
Dani Haeyvert, Rootstown E-Zine,
Belgium (Aug. 2003)
No Tag, No Tail Light is pure Americana…Shain isn't bound by any stylistic parameters; each song is clearly its own unique proposition, and he gives every tune what it needs, whether it be the dark folk of “Merrimack”, the cabaret blues of “Only the Blues” or the gentle twang of “Getaway Car.” With No Tag, No Tail Light in his hip pocket, Jon Shain has his bona fides in order. He's a singer/songwriter who's at the front end of his prime and, appropriately, he's set a new standard for himself.”
Philip Van Vleck, Raleigh Metro Magazine (June 2003)
“NO TAG clearly positions Shain as the perfect guy to round out a triple bill with John Hiatt and Steve Forbert. “Getaway Car” and “Give My Regards to Brother Ray,” both of which reveal a previously undetected (at least by me) vocal similarity to Donald Fagen, deserve special mention; they're the kinds of songs that you should be sharing with your good friends.”
Rick Cornell, The Record Exchange
Music Monitor (June 2003)
“Even longtime followers of Shain from his days with Flyin' Mice and WAKE should be knocked out by the ambition of this great album of original tunes…Call it musical maturity, or an intangible intersection of solid tunes and solid musicianship; Fools and Fine Ladies marks a giant step for Jon Shain, from folky tunesmith to artist to be reckoned with.”
David Potorti, The Independent,
Durham, NC (May 2001)
“Jon Shain's Fools and Fine Ladies is inspired by acoustic blues traditions, and both his voice and phrasing occasionally bring to mind the recordings of Dave Van Ronk…Shain and his bandmates are clearly in their element here, making music that has plenty of rootsy appeal.&lrdquo;
Mike Joyce, Washington Post,
Washington, DC (June 2001)
“A fine North Carolina singer-songwriter steeped in Dylan and Delta blues, Shain returns to town with a new album, Fools and Fine Ladies. You can hear Jorma Kaukonen in his guitar playing but he's well on his way to carving out his own patch of Southern Americana.”
Richard Gehr, The Village Voice, NY, NY (Oct. 2001)
“Shain, an accomplished singer-guitarist in the Kaukonen-Hammond mold, and bandmates John Currie on dobro and FJ Ventre on bass, have established a group identity rooted in the Piedmont blues of North Carolina…”
Jerry Withrow, No Depression magazine (Nov. 2001)
“Jon Shain, formerly of Flyin' Mice, continues to develop his solo career with his new disc, Fools and Fine Ladies, and a mighty fine disc it is. Shain's story-telling songs are enhanced by stark country folk-blues accompaniments.”
Mick Skidmore, Relix magazine (Oct. 2001)
“Shain's intricate work on the fretboard is always a pleasure, and the tightknit backing group frees him to soar. Shain smoked through Porcupine Rag, glided smoothly with the flighty “Chincoteague Chick-a-dee” and rattled the windows with “Pawn Shop Girl.” Bassist Ventre even brought some Louisiana swamp pop into the mix with his rousing version of “Just Because”.”
—Live review by Grant Britt, The Spectator,
Raleigh, NC (Dec. 2001)
“Unless you live under a mighty big rock, you've heard Chapel Hill singer-songwriter Jon Shain with his former bands Flyin' Mice and WAKE. Both bands left their mark on the local music scene, the former for blending blues, Celtic and Dixieland with bluegrass (before it was cool), the latter for fresh-fried country rock. Now Shain has ventured out on his own with Brand New Lifetime, which picks up where his earlier efforts left off, both in terms of music makers and the music itself.”
LD Russell, The Independent, Durham, NC (Dec. 1999)
"As one of the founding fathers of NC's now-booming Americana scene, regional twangophile Jon Shain has been grinding out some of the Southeast's finest roots-rock for nearly a decade now. As a founding member of Chapel Hill's Flyin' Mice and their post-mortem project WAKE, Shain's musical closet is bursting with rootsy recipes….Shain hasn't lost his poignant, rustic touch, capturing the emotional essence of roots music…the result couldn't feel more homespun and snug."
Todd Bowman, Creative Loafing,
Charlotte, NC (June 1999)
“Consisting of acoustic-based originals capped off with a rousing cover of Bob Dylan's “Meet Me in the Morning”, Brand New Lifetime displays the growth of Shain's songwriting skills. Songs such as the album opener “New Year's Eve” and the moving family tribute “Song for Joe”, carry forth with a poignancy and emotional depth befitting the honesty of the best blues and folk storytellers.”
Nick Harris, ESP, Greensboro, NC (Sept. 1999)
“Since his Flyin' Mice days, Jon Shain has been turning heads with his vocals, a cross between John Hiatt and Steve Forbert, and his mean, lean finger-picking. Changing genres as easily as changing his shoes, Shain's music has always seemed to bubble up from deep within, flowing smoothly ansd easily.”
Grant Britt, ESP magazine,
Greensboro, NC (May. 2001)
“Even if the characters in Shain's lyrics seem very real to him, and the audience, his music and the concert he gave here don't depend on words and images alone. Because Shain is also an accomplished rhythm guitar player, with the ability to blend a rich variety of blues, folk, and rock licks into a bubbling and emotional brew. His performance at the Jordan House was enhanced by the subtle and sublime dobro playing of John Currie, whose soft backing lines turned the acoustic duo into something more dynamic and synergistic…Another of the reasons Shain's concerts are so well-received, as was the case at the Jordan House, is that not only are his song characters, and their stories, so accessible, but so is he. Relaxed and personable, especially in the intimate settings such as the Jordan House, Shain sings and plays in a way that makes the audience feel the song…”
—Live review by Jerry Harris, The News-Gazette,
Lexington, VA (Nov. 1999)

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