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the online live music gig guide for the midlands

Robin 2 R&B Club
Surge Music Gig Guide

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29 March 2017

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Band Info


Whether you regard San Francisco Bay Area export John Lester as an acoustic singer-songwriter, a soulful vocalist, or a superb and innovative bassist, his talent is undeniable. John's music has drawn comparisons to many of his influences - Paul Simon, Van Morrison, Michael Franks, and Bill Withers to mention a few - yet is never a copy of the original. His voice stands out thanks to a balanced combination of talents: introspective and thought-provoking lyricism, smoky, resonant vocals, and melodious expertise on the double bass as well as a variety of bass and acoustic guitars.

In 2001, after winning his second Song of the Year award from the Northern California Songwriter's Association and recording his first solo CD 'Live at the Freight and Salvage', John took an opportunity to move from San Francisco to Paris. While there, John embraced the Parisian lifestyle, playing the jazz clubs and his first solo gigs in Europe supporting Mary Gauthier. John also traveled to Belgium and the Netherlands for the first time while completing work on what would become his second CD 'Big Dreams and the Bottom Line'.

John later traveled to London to play his debut gig at the 12 Bar Club in Soho in the fall of 2002. During that show he premiered a new song entitled 'Out of the Clear Blue Sky' expressing his disillusionment with America's position leading up to the invasion of Iraq as part of the War on Terror. The song was overwhelmingly well-received and, through word of mouth, made its way onto the UK compilation 'Peace Not War', where John found himself in the company of the upper echelon of protest singers including Ani DiFranco, Pete Seeger, Public Enemy and Billy Bragg.

In the beginning of 2003, John found himself seduced by the city and moved to London where he lived for 15 months. He frequented the singer-songwriter clubs and quickly became known on the acoustic scene for his unique solo bass and vocal show. He was a regular at the famous Troubadour, which was the first place that both Bob Dylan and Paul Simon played in London in the 1960's. In August 2003, John released his first studio CD, 'Big Dreams and the Bottom Line'. This album featured 12 self-penned songs drawing upon a variety of musical styles to support his emotive lyrics. The CD featured a studio version of a live staple, 'The Ways of a Woman' which took The Northern California Songwriters Association 1999 Song of the Year Award and 'Out of the Clear Blue Sky' ~ which received Radioio.com's 2003 Best Lyrical Commentary Award.

'Big Dreams and the Bottom Line' opened new avenues for John. He toured extensively after its release, supporting the CD as both a headlining and opening act. On his own, he has created a strong and loyal following throughout the US and the UK, and is now building larger audiences in The Netherlands, Belgium, France, and Germany. As a support act, he has shared the stage with such talented and diverse acts as Grammy-nominated Nashville songwriter Gretchen Peters, funky folk songstress Erin McKeown, punk rock's poet laureate Patti Smith, UK band leader and TV host Jools Holland, bass virtuosos Michael Manring and Steve Lawson, and French pop singer Jacques Higelin.

In March of 2004, John was drawn to Amsterdam where he currently resides. He started playing the songwriter circuit there, winning a few local awards and later became a finalist in the 2005 Mooie Noten (Beautiful Notes) Songwriting Contest.. This exposure led to shows at the Vincent Van Gogh Museum and Amsterdam's premier venue, The Paradiso.

'So Many Reasons', John's third self-released record, was inspired by his many travels throughout Europe. 'Last Letter to Theo' was written after observing the work of Vincent Van Gogh and then becoming and avid fan, absorbing all of the information available including reading his famed letters to his brother Theo. 'Beware La Merde' is a tongue-in-cheek warning to tourists visiting Paris, while 'Steppin' Back in Time' is the imaginary tale of a 'now elderly' female London jazz-goer from the '40's. The title track, a sweet love song, again finds John conjuring images of another master, Claude Monet, while 'Fear Itself' embraces the feelings John encountered upon a return visit to the States with it's terror alerts and Bush led protectionist mindset. Two tracks from the new CD recently took top honors in the West Coast Songwriters International Songwriting Competition. "Beware La Merde" won 'best humorous song' and the CD's title cut "So Many Reasons" won 'best jazz song'.
The disc also includes the former 'Song of the Year' from the Northern California Songwriters Association "Both a Blessing and a Curse". Artwork for "So Many Reasons" is from Vincent Van Gogh's 'The Sower', used with permission of the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

John's 2007 tour schedule included summer for festivals in the UK and France, and a September US CD release tour, including San Francisco

John Lester Gigs


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