Artist: Jon Stickley
Hometown: Durham, North Carolina
Latest album: Jon Stickley Trio, Meantime’s Up
Personal Nicknames: Stick, Sticky, Stickers, Sticky-Poo, J. P. Poo, Stickles, Stickles McGee, JP Stickles, Stickman
Which artist has influenced you the most … and how?
David Grisman, who at the time was already a monster Bill Monroe-style bluegrass mandolin player, took a huge step forward and created Dawg music, an amalgamation of many different styles with a reverence for the bluegrass music that was at the root of his sound. I take the same approach with the Trio. Every composition is an exploration of some new idea that we are experimenting with, but we do it all through the lens of, and according to the standards of, the traditional bluegrass music of Bill Monroe.
What was the first moment that you knew you wanted to be a musician?
I guess I knew I was going to be a musician as long as I can remember! An early memory is being in children’s choir in church. I distinctly remember my friends not wanting to be there, and thinking it was odd because I was just having a blast following the notes along the page. Later in life, I was in an entomology class in college thinking about what to do with my upcoming summer. I had two opportunities: a summer missionary program, or joining the band Broke Mountain in Durango, Colorado. I joined the band, and now here I am!
What’s the toughest time you ever had writing a song?
I’ve always had to sit down and work on songs. They don’t often come to me out of thin air. Over the course of writing and recording our new album, my two sons were born, so time to sit and work on music suddenly became virtually nonexistent! We had a session around the corner and I needed one more tune. I decided to get my old Martin D-18 out and see if it brought me some inspiration. I started noodling around on a little metal lick just getting some frustration out when it started turning into something. I called the song “Triumph in Between” because I actually couldn’t believe I was able to put something together in time with so much LIFE going on.
What has been the best advice you’ve received in your career so far?
I got a lot of good advice and just overall inspiration from working with Dave King, the drummer for The Bad Plus who produced a couple of albums for us. He said, “Be the most YOU that you can be. No one else can do that. It will make you stand out, and ultimately get the gig! It is a superpower.” Every time I remember to follow that advice, I stop stressing about comparing myself to others.
Since food and music go so well together, what is your dream pairing of a meal and a musician?
Haha, the first thing that came to mind was cheeseburgers with Jerry Garcia. He was such a deep guitarist and I always love listening to interviews where he talks about his approach and practice routine and whatnot. He was just such a dedicated student of the guitar. Pretty sure we both share a fondness for cheeseburgers!
Photo Credit: Tom Farr