“Whether you regard him as a singer-songwriter, a soulful vocalist,

or a superb and innovative bassist, his talent is undeniable.” 

- Timeout Magazine


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, and “So Many Reasons” in 2007, "Jazz?" in 2013, and "Live" earlier this year. 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 recently release a live album 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




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Fri, Sept 11 - Double-bill w/Paul Tiernan - Private House Concert - Bolinas, CA

Sat, Sept 12 - Double-bill w/Paul Tiernan - Private House Concert - Montara, CA

Sun, Sept 13 - Radio appearance on KPIG w/Paul Tiernan - 10am - 107.5 FM, Freedom, CA - 

Sun, Sept 13 - Double-bill w/Paul Tiernan - Private House Concert - San Mateo, CA

Tue, Sept 15 - Double-bill w/Paul Tiernan - THE ROADHOUSE - Davenport, CA - 6pm until 9pm 

Wed, Sept 16 - Double Double-bill w/Paul Tiernan AND Maurice Tani - STRINGS - Berkeley, CA - 7:30pm

Thu, Sept 17 - FULL BAND w/Paul Tiernan & Tim Bulkley (drums) - ANGELICAS - Redwood City, CA - 7:30

Fri, Sept 18 - All Acoustic Double bill w/Paul Tiernan - BAZAAR CAFE - San Francisco - 7pm until 9:30pm

Sat, Sept 19 - Double-bill w/Paul Tiernan - Private House Concert - Saratoga, CA


Wednesday, October 14 - La Costanera, Montara CA - 6pm to 9:30

Sunday, October 18 - Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival, Main Street, Half Moon Bay, CA - 10am to noon


FRIDAY, DEC 11 - TRIPLE BILL w/jeff pherson & Rabbit quinn  MONKEY HOUSE - berkeley, CA - 8PM TO 10PM

I'm back my new favorite singer-songwriter venue in Berkeley "The Monkey House". This time on a triple bill with singer-songwriters Jeff Pherson (of Box Set) and Rabbit Quinn. I had the opportunity to play some shows with Box Set back in the 90's and have been a fan of Jeff's music ever since. Last place I saw him play was Madison Square Garden (as back up vocalist for Further). Rabbit Quinn is a wonderful singer-songwriter pianist reminiscent of Tori Amos. The Monkey House is like a house concert with a real stage and PA, very intimate concert setting. While this show is open to the public, you must email for a seat reservation to get the address.

Go to the Monkey House website for the email reservations link.


Friday, December 18 - Solo Show - HopMonk Sonoma         Sonoma, CA - 8pm to 10pm

This will be my first appearance at this new Sonoma music venue. They have a beautiful little listening room called the Tavern Room. I'll be there with guitars, basses, and even my little ukulele doing 2 sets of original acoustic music.

HopMonk Sonoma, 691 Broadway, Sonoma, CA 95476






Saturday, January 30 - DOUBLE BILL W/STEVE LAWSON - Private House Concert, San Jose, CA

Sunday, January 31 - DOUBLE BILL W/STEVE LAWSON - Private House Concert, Montara, CA


Sunday, March 6 - JOHN LESTER "JAZZ?" QUARTET - ANGELICAs REDWOOD CITY, CA - 7:30 to 9:30 (Doors/Dinner AT 6pm)              

A very special birthday show with my "Jazz?" quartet. This evening is a dinner show at my favorite venue on the SF Peninsula, Angelicas. Tonight I'll be featuring material from "Jazz?" album which consists of favorite rock songs set in a 1950's cool jazz context. 


Saturday, April 9 - double bill with michael manring      piedmont music store, piedmont, CA  

I'm very excited to be splitting a show with bassist extraordinaire Michael Manring. We worked together on a tour in the UK a few years back and he will also be featured on a two songs on my upcoming album release in late Spring 2016. The Piedmont Music Store show is a house concert style performance. More info about reservations to be announced as we get closer to the date.


NOw booking - double bill european tour with paul tiernan from november 3 to november 16, 2016 - more info tba




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