John Lester




John is an award winning songwriter who has, throughout his career, had one foot in the rock/acoustic music scene and the other in jazz. As a songwriter, John was awarded the “Song of the Year Award” from the West Coast Songwriter’s Association on two occasions (for The Ways of a Woman and Both a Blessing and a Curse). The title track from his 2007 release, So Many Reasons, was also the winner of the WCS International Songwriting Award for “Best Jazz Song” and he also won their “Best Humorous Song Award” for his tongue-in-cheek ditty, Beware La Merde, about a bit of advice to tourists in Paris.


“John doesn’t just have a great voice, he is a voice! Great songs that really communicate.”

- Russ Jennings, KPFA


As a solo performer, John has created a unique show featuring his 100-year-old upright bass named Sarah (after Sarah Vaughan, for her lovely vocal-like quality). He also plays acoustic and electric bass guitars, as well as baritone steel string guitar, nylon string guitar, and ukulele, at times utilizing a loop recorder to create live tracks for his songs and improvisations.


“Lester’s USP is his supreme mastery of all possible varieties of basses and his use of them as lead instruments…his understated virtuosity demands attention!”

- Maverick Magazine


John has released five albums to date: “Live at the Freight and Salvage” in 1999, “Big Dreams and the Bottom Line” in 2003, “So Many Reasons” in 2007, "Jazz?" in 2012, and "Live ~ with Paul Tiernan" in 2015. He is set to release a new studio album of all original songs entitled "Fathers and Sons" this spring. 


John’s 2012 release, “Jazz?”, set ten modern rock cover songs into a late 1950’s jazz context and brought together John’s love for both great contemporary songwriting and the open improvisation of a jazz quartet. Released on October 2, 2012, the album steadily climbed the JazzWeek charts, entering the Top 100 in November 2012 and reaching #80 in January 2013.  It also reached #13 on the Roots Music Report jazz chart.


“His takes on rock and pop standards with great jazz sensibility and penchant for swing, makes this a wonderful and fresh approach in the canon of improvised music."

- Jim Bennet, KCSM


John's 2015 live album was released in conjunction with his European touring partner Paul Tiernan. John and Paul have been touring together since meeting at the Rochefortes En Accords Festival on the Atlantic coast of France in 2005. After ten years of touring a live recording was finally captured on their 2014 US West Coast Tour. The album features 7 songs by each artist and was released in January 2015.


“The interaction that goes on between them, both overtly and covertly, is something that’s subtle and sensational, voices and instruments intertwining and blending to weave songs of influence and poise”.

- FolkWords


John is currently in the studio finishing work on his next album set for release in spring 2017. The album will feature 10 original tunes in an acoustic format with John on vocals, bass, guitar, and ukulele with Paul Tiernan on guitar and Tim Bulkley on drums. Special guests include electric bass virtuoso Michael Manring, additional drums by Michael Urbano (drummer for Neil Finn, John Hiatt, Sheryl Crow), hammond organ by Baxter Robertson, and piano and accordion by Barry Walsh. Gretchen Peters, whom John has toured with as bassist and support act, will guest on background vocals on the albums first single.  


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SUNDAy, June 18 - 2pm father's day show - THE FREIGHT AND SALVAGE, BERKELEY, CA

I'm very pleased to announce the release of my new album "Fathers and Sons" with this very special Father's Day double-bill matinee show with Steve Seskin. Steve and I will each play solo and collaborate on stage together, sharing songs and stories about fatherhood, family, and more.     click here for more info 

THE FREIGHT AND SALVAGE - 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA  (510)644-2020                             2pm (doors open at 1pm), tickets $20 advance/$24 at the door, $12 under 18 years old   







SATURDAY, AUGUST 19 - THE BLUEBIRD, Nashville, TN                                                 (in-the-round with Gretchen Peters, Craig Caruthers, and Don Henry)


NOVEMBER 8 - PRIVATE HOUSE CONCERT - Bochum, Germany  (double-bill with Paul Tiernan)

NOVEMBER 9 - KOMBUSE - Obendorf, Germany  (double-bill with Paul Tiernan)

NOVEMBER 10 - ZIMMER - Berlin, Germany  (double-bill with Paul Tiernan)

NOVEMBER 11 - PRIVATE HOUSE CONCERT - Brandenburg, Germany  (double-bill with Paul Tiernan)

NOVEMBER 12 - THE PHOENIX, Lauffen, Germany (double-bill with Paul Tiernan)

NOVEMBER 14 - PRIVATE HOUSE CONCERT, Amsterdam, The Netherlands  (double-bill with Paul Tiernan)

NOVEMBER 15 - KANAPEE - Hannover, Germany  (double-bill with Paul Tiernan)

NOVEMBER 16 - KANAPEE (2nd night added) - Hannover, Germany  (double-bill with Paul Tiernan)

NOVEMBER 17 - venue tba - Oberrieden, Switzerland  (double-bill with Paul Tiernan)

NOVEMBER 18 - venue tba - Zurich, Switzerland  (double-bill with Paul Tiernan)

NOVEMBER 19 - ALTABANOFF - Berlin Freidenau, Germany  (double-bill with Paul Tiernan)

NOVEMBER 20 - PRIVATE HOUSE CONCERT - Werl, Germany (double-bill with Paul Tiernan)














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