Jon Shain (born Jonathan Bruce Shain, November 18, 1967, Haverhill, Massachusetts) is a Jewish American folk musician, guitarist, singer-songwriter and recording artist. Since 1986, he has been based in Durham, North Carolina.

Shain has produced several solo albums, and has also recorded with the bands 'WAKE' and 'Flyin' Mice'. Since 1988, he has performed live with Jorma Kaukonen[1], David Grisman, and others. Shain played electric guitar as part of North Carolina blues great Richard "Big Boy" Henry's backing band in the 1980s.[2]

Early life

Shain was born into a Jewish family, the eldest of three children to Steven and Carol Shain, who were also Haverhill, Massachusetts natives. His father and grandfather operated a small but successful textile dyehouse.

Shain got his first acoustic guitar after being influenced by watching childhood friend Fran Cleary play a cheap Univox electric model. Things went poorly, as within a short time, he accidentally broke the rented instrument in half. At age 12 he started up again with another borrowed model, this time showing more serious interest and taking lessons.

For high school, Shain attended Governor Dummer Academy (GDA), in Byfield, Massachusetts, where he met up with other aspiring musicians among its small student body. Almost immediately, Shain joined a student rock band called Positive Feedback, where he played electric rhythm guitar. At age 14, he was the youngest member of the band, and it was here that he gained his first experiences on stage. The following year, Shain and childhood friend Jim Barr, along with fellow GDA students FJ Ventre and John Miller, formed another rock cover band called The Partisans (the band's name unknowingly matched an already established punk band from England). This experience further sharpened his skills and confidence as a live performer, as he was responsible for most of the arrangements performed by the band. The Partisans achieved minor notoriety throughout the region, playing dances and private parties during Shain's remaining years in high school. Eventually mixing in originals by Shain and Barr, The Partisans live set mainly consisted of classic rock staples from Chuck Berry, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Clash, R.E.M., and U2.

Shain graduated from GDA in 1985.

College years

Shain attended Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, where he majored in history. It was during this time that Shain was introduced to the folk music of the region. In addition to playing in a frat-rock cover band, The Blind Mice, Shain began to research and play Piedmont Blues. Shain joined The Slewfoot Blues Band, led by Mickey "Slewfoot" McLaughlin and "Sleepy" Tom Forsythe. Through Slewfoot, Shain met NC blues artists such as Big Boy Henry, John Dee Holeman, Lightnin' Wells, and jazz pianist Brother Yusef Salim. Shain also took opportunity of Duke's great jazz program, studying one semester with saxophonist Paul Jeffery, a veteran of Thelonious Monk's group. Shain graduated from Duke in the summer of 1989, and immediately began pursuing a career in music.

Professional career

In the spring of 1989, Shain and bassist John Whitehead formed a blues-rock duo and named it Flyin' Mice. They began to play shows at local clubs and festivals in The Carolinas and Virginia. Catching the ear of soundman and recording engineer Charles Jones, Flyin' Mice was signed to Jones' fledgling independent label Dr. Lime Records. The Mice expanded to a trio with the addition of drummer Mark Simonsen. In 1992, John Whitehead left the band and was replaced by bassist Aaron Oliva and Ben Saffer on guitar and banjo. Flyin' Mice earned the tag "psychedelic bluegrass" due to its incorporation of vintage bluegrass influences into its jam-rock performance style. This incarnation of the band gigged steadily up and down the East Coast until the band's breakup in 1996.

In the spring of 1996, Shain and Simonsen started a new group called WAKE with Kirsten O'Rourke Simonsen on vocals and Stu Cole on bass. In 1997, Cole left to join Squirrel Nut Zippers and he was replaced by Darrell Dixon on bass and John Currie on guitar. WAKE leaned more towards an alt-country sound. WAKE broke up in early 1998.

In the fall of 1998, Shain and Simonsen began work on what would become Jon Shain's first solo album, Brand New Lifetime, which ranged from the alt-country of WAKE to a more stripped down re-discovery of Shain's acoustic blues background. Shain began to play shows solo and with his new group, The Jon Shain Trio - composed of FJ Ventre on bass, John Currie on dobro and guitar, and Bill Newton on harmonica. This group has stayed together the longest of any of shain's musical associations. Shain has recorded several critically acclaimed albums on his own Flyin' Records and continues to tour regularly.


Solo albums

1999 Brand New Lifetime Flyin' Records CD
2001 Fools and Fine Ladies Flyin' Records CD
2003 No Tag, No Tail Light Flyin' Records CD
2005 Home Before Long Flyin' Records CD
2007 Army Jacket Winter Flyin' Records CD

Other albums

1988 Big Boy Henry & The
Slewfoot Blues Band
Big Boy Henry & The
Slewfoot Blues Band
Self-released Cassette
1991 Flyin' Mice So Hi Drive Dr. Lime Records CD and Cassette
1992 Flyin' Mice Paranoia Drugstore Blues
/ Running Free
Dr. Lime Records 7" single
1994 Flyin' Mice Brighter Day Dr. Lime Records CD and Cassette
1996 Flyin' Mice So Long Self-released Cassette
1997 WAKE WAKE Flyin' Records CD

Other recording appearances

1999 David Scott Kepford Steps DSK Records CD
2000 Phil Cohen and Patricia Ford Caution to the Wind Hard Miles Music CD
2001 Judy Woodall's Muletrain Black Pony Back Home Music CD
2003 Phil Cohen and Patricia Ford Long Road 'til Sunrise Hard Miles Music CD
2003 Judy Woodall and Muletrain Monkey Goat Sinnerman Back Home Music CD
2004 Dana Kletter Mrs. Moon CD
2008 Jefferson Pepper American Evolution CD

Family life

In 1997, Shain married graphic designer Maria Bilinski. The couple have one daughter, Johanna, born in 2002. Shain has written a song for each of them, both of which can be found on Army Jacket Winter.


  1. [1] World Music Central web site February 20, 2000.
  2. [2] "Jon Shain @ efolkmusic", August 1, 2007.

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Jon Shain. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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