Jon Geiger cuts a vein for his audience. Called one of the most soulful vocalists and guitarists in the music scene, he has garnered significant notice from some pretty spectacular people and industry trades.
A veteran of the Austin Music scene, Jon grew up in New York and became a brown belt in Jiu Jitsu just to make it home from school safely on the tough streets of Harlem. The deep soul of BB King’s “Live at the Regal” and the ferocious intensity of Eric Clapton’s guitar work were life changing for Jon. Playing guitar became Jon’s reason for living. The talent and passion of teenage Jon were quickly recognized by jazz greats such as Emily Remler and Hiram Bullock, both of whom took him on as a private student. Remler even referred to Jon as her protégé. His talent earned him a full scholarship to the Berklee College of Music. After completing his studies in Boston, Jon promptly moved to Austin and began working alongside the Austin greats and playing Antone’s and the Texas blues haunts. Presently, Jon is turning heads on the Los Angeles music scene with his unique blend of captivating guitar work, soaring vocals and artful songwriting.
Geiger has accrued many accolades from the media and has been hand-picked by greats ranging from Robben Ford, John Mayall, Charlie Sexton, Doyle Bramhall, and Joe Ely to open their shows. Indeed, Jon is probably one of the industry’s “best kept secrets.” However, that won’t hold for long. He’s already paid his dues and, everywhere this artist has graced a stage, people remember his passion… often years later.
Indie Pulse Music (IPM) recently asked Jon to answer 5 Quick Questions, here’s how it went.
IPM: Name three recent topics you’ve discussed in your latest (or soon to be) recordings?
JG: One that I always come back to is of spiritual connection and dreams of connection and aspiring true connection both to others in the form of love as well as to prayers and hopes sent up above. Another is the life and character studies of the everyday person and the world we live in today and the obstacles that presents as far as the haves and the have-nots. I also had one that was from the point of view of someone experiencing being thrown into war and the contradiction between personal beliefs and circumstances… And really PTSD.
IPM: Who are you personally listening to music-wise these days, and why?
JG: I listen a great deal to Tedeschi Trucks band (and) Derek Trucks’ work prior, because to me it is so deeply soulful yet also combines aspects of the freedom of jazz improvisation, dynamics, intensity and passion of the blues and digging deep …chance taking, incredible musicianship and instrumental prowess, interaction between musicians that is part of the creation of the music as a whole and equally if not more importantly a constant nod to the past musicians and bands and the influences that are the shoulders upon which they and indeed all of us stand… Listening to their music I also hear the music of those who inspired them and indeed inspired me and it creates a painting drawn from a palette of all the colors that give me passion and inspiration and clearly gave them that as well. I believe that we are probably very similar in sensibilities as far as the music that has shaped us (Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi) and that we continue to draw from as well and wish to give thanks to and in listening to them I feel and taste together the past with the present. I’m also always going back to BB (King) and Freddie King, Cream and the Allmans… Chet Baker and Miles… Mike Stern and Peter Green… on and on.
IPM: What do you list as your biggest or best career accomplishment to date?
JG: I once heard a definition of success that always stayed with me…well, two, actually; one was preparation meeting opportunity; but the other one that’s more on-point here is to have the respect of those whom you respect… In that regard my biggest or best career, accomplishments feel like the moments when someone like Robben Ford heard something in me, or Mike Stern… or indeed many whom I hold in great regard but may be less widely known… And as far as purely career level it has been playing the places- and being asked to play the places- that I find are historically standard bearers for a certain level of music that they would have; Antone’s in Austin, the Lighthouse and Harvelle’s in Los Angeles… to me it’s always about the music and the history, and trying to live up to the standards of those whose inspiration lives in my heart every day that I go out to play, and each day in between, ever since I was fifteen.
IPM: Why play and perform music?
JG: The great bassist Steve Swallow was speaking to music students at a music school, someone asked him a very similar question… His answer was “If you WANT to play music, don’t. It’s a very challenging path as far as life goes and incredibly demanding on a discipline level and much more… It’s very often impossible to make a living and you may not ever receive opportunities or status… It’s a very hard life… You shouldn’t do it. If you HAVE to play music, there’s no more beautiful life…and don’t ever stop. I believe that anyone who gets that also would say that music, if it is that for them, is born into them just as intrinsically essential to their being and every breath as any organ… No less than a kidney or liver or spine or heart or lungs… I have to play music.
IPM: Your most convincing reason to get new fans to check out your music and/or live shows?
JG: If you love music that is coming from the people who dig down and try to lift up, who come from the blues and try to sing from the soul… Who work their damnedest to pull every note out of their instrument that will be authentic of a feeling and not merely to impress…? If you love blues-based soulful music, original or adapted… There is only so much of that out there and to those who love that music it can be a beautiful thing to find it being honored and put forth… If you love that music I will play my heart out for you every night, every place, and every hour that I’m up there.
(The Jon Geiger Band (featuring Chad Watson on bass, Peter Buck on drums, and Geiger on guitar and vocals) performs at historic South Bay live music venue The Lighthouse Café in Hermosa Beach, this Sunday, May 1 from 2pm-4:30pm. Free admission. More on Jon Geiger at https://www.jongeiger.com/).
The Jon Geiger Band also performs at the New Blues Festival IX, Shoreline Aquatic Park in Long Beach, September 3rd through the 5th.
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