Guitarist Jon Shain and bassist FJ Ventre have been playing music together since they met in high school in Massachusetts 35 years ago, but their musical collaboration has really blossomed in North Carolina where they both have made their homes. Over the years, they have recorded a long list of original folk-blues albums, been finalists at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, and have appeared alongside acts such as John Hiatt, Little Feat, John Hammond, Bill Kirchen, NRBQ, Jackson Browne, Keb’ Mo’, and Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson.
Jon Shain is a veteran singer-songwriter who’s been turning heads for years with his words, his fiery acoustic guitar work, and his evolved musical style – combining improvised piedmont blues with bluegrass, swing, and ragtime.
Jon 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.
F.J. Ventre and Jon began playing music together when they met in high school. F.J. went on to University of Massachusetts-Lowell, earning a B.A. in Music Performance and Sound Recording. He remained in the Boston area, performing in the city’s vibrant music scene. Since relocating to Chapel Hill, NC in 2000, Ventre has performed with his own group The Swang Brothers, as well as The Stars Explode, Rebecca and the Hi-Tones, and Matt Hill. In addition to performing as a sought after sideman, he spends his time behind the mixing board, engineering at his own Good Luck Studio.