I'll be playing an all acoustic show at Cypress Meadows this Friday, May 17. This photo was taken after a recent rehearsal with my guitarist David Schibner. I'll be playing Sarah (my upright bass) as well as my Martin acoustic bass guitar, nylon string guitar, new Rick Turner custom 6 string bass, and my grandfathers 1930's Martin ukulele. David will be adding one more acoustic guitar to this mix (he travels light) and my star bass student, Kylie Pfeiffer, will also be bringing her upright bass to play with me on a few tunes when I play guitar and uke. 343 Cypress Avenue, Moss Beach, CA. Doors at 7pm, music at 7:30pm
I'll be down at the San Gregorio General store playing a solo show this Friday, July 20th from 5pm to 7pm. It's my first local show in a while and I look forward to returning to this casual venue on the coast just 15 minutes south of Half Moon Bay. There's no cover charge and it's an all ages, family friendly venue.
The San Gregorio General Store is located at the corner of Highway 84 and Stage Road, one mile east of the intersection of Highway 84 and Highway 1.
I'll be back at The Freight and Salvage with Steve Seskin for another special Father's Day matinee show, this time with Keith Greeninger on the bill as well! Steve, Keith, and I will play two sets "in-the-round" starting at 1pm (doors open at noon).
Steve Seskin has penned 7 number one country songs and Keith Greeninger is the winner of top songwriting awards from The Telluride Bluegrass Festival, The Kerrville Folk Festival, and The Napa Valley Folk Festival. Set in one of the countries premier acoustic music listening rooms, this is an event not to be missed. Last year's show was great! This is a family friend show with under 21 admitted for only $6 ($20 adults). A great Father's day event!
The Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison Street, Berkeley, CA phone: (510) 644-2020 Tickets $20 advance / $18 senior / $6 youth (under 21) reserve now
I'm very excited to be playing a support set for Charlie Hunter Trio at HopMonk Novato on August 6th. I have long been a fan of Charlie's. His 8 string guitar work (playing bass and guitar at the same time) is simply amazing and his trio always lays down phat and infectious grooves. 5pm doors, 6pm show. Get tickets here
"The Beautiful Princess of Never Come True" will be featured on this Sunday's Acoustic Sunrise hosted by Rosalie on KFOG (104.5 San Francisco, 97.7 San Jose). It will air in the 9am hour so tune in Bay Area!
I am thankful that Rosalie chose to feature this song for her San Francisco Pride weekend edition of Acoustic Sunrise. I am very excited to be played on my favorite Bay Area radio station and that the message of gender equality and acceptance expressed in "The Beautiful Princess of Never Come True" continues to resonate.
It was such a pleasure to be able to launch the new album 'Fathers and Sons' at Berkeley's world class acoustic music venue "The Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse". Thanks to singer-songwriter Steve Seskin for sharing the bill with me on this special Father's Day show! So nice to have my family in audience and my oldest boy sat in on vocals on 'Real Real Love'. Thanks to all my Bay Area friends who came out! What a great Father's Day.
I'll be headed down to one of my favorite radio stations ever... KPIG Radio 107.5 Freedom, CA (Santa Cruz/Monterey) to chat with Sleepy John about the new album, Fathers and Sons, on his show "Please Stand By". I'll play a few tunes as well. If you are not in the Santa Cruz/Monterey area, you can listen on the internet via the link above.
As I wrap up all the final tracks on the 'Father and Sons' album, I've been in discussion with mastering engineer Randy Merrill about doing the mastering work. Randy mastered my "Jazz?" album at Masterdisk in New York and is now at Sterling Sound. He's got great ears and I am so glad to have him aboard on this project! I had wanted to master in early February but I had to set the mastering date for just after the Grammy Awards in late February as Randy is up for three Grammys this year (two for Album of the Year; Adele's '25' and Justin Bieber's 'Purpose, and one for Song of the Year; Adele's "Hello). I think I can wait the extra week for Randy to be available!
Our crowdfunding campaign ended on December 28th and I am please to announce that we raised over $3500 with the help of 60 backers. These funds will be put to use promoting "Fathers and Sons" when it is released this spring. Our first task is to create professional music videos, something that has been out of reach for me and is now possible thanks to your help.
I'm very excited about the work I've been doing on my upcoming album "Fathers and Sons" and am kicking off an IndieGoGo campaign to help spread the word. The funding we seek with this campaign will be invested in getting this new album out into the world. As an independent musician, launch and continued promotion has historically been and a difficult endeavor. You can help by simply preordering a download, CD, or any of our promotional packages. You'll be the first to have these new songs and be a part of making it happen.
The inspiration for "Fathers and Sons" is the often unspoken family relationships between men. Each song messages the love, pain, struggle & questions that arise and confound the dynamics.
Recording is almost complete and will be wrapped up by the end of December. We launch the album in Spring 2017!
I'm looking forward to doing a bit of traveling in my own state later this month. I play venues in Sebastopol, Monterey, and Laguna Beach as well as a private house concert in Palas Verdes. The tour kick off on Wednesday Sept 21 as I join host Jon Gonzales and singer-songwriters Tabotha Antoinette, Hilary Marckz, and Kay Ashley for an in-the-round performance at HopMonk Sebastopol's beautiful Abbey room. Thursday Sept 22 I return to Monterey for a show promoted by Kiki Wow. I met Kiki on a show there in January with bassists Steve Lawson and Steve Uccello. This time around I'll be solo playing jsut about every instrument I own (guitars, basses, and ukulele). Friday Sept 23rd I've been invite by radio DJ Jason Freddy to play the KX935 songwriter series at the Laguna Beach Amphitheatre. All show details are on my "Shows" page.
Lots of new songs coming together for my upcoming album.
I am very much looking forward to playing a series of shows with bassist/looping artist Steve Lawson directly following the National Association of Music Merchandisers (NAMM) show next week. Steve hails from the UK and is a good friend and a great inspiration. We toured together in England on a triple-bill solo bassist show along with Michael Manring. Steve's music can best be described as "soundscapes" and his use of loop recording devices and special effects is second to none. Looking forward to out musical explorations and hearing the colors he decided to paint on my songs in the set.
"The partnership between Paul Tiernan & John Lester is one of those ‘happenstances’ that came about by accident but led to something rather wonderful. Since meeting in 2005, they’ve toured together and captivated audiences – now for the first time the unique alchemy of a live set is captured on their latest album ‘Live ‘. 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.
As with many live albums today the recording is clean as a whistle and the production spot on. You’re there with the duo, hearing exactly what the audience hears. The album eases in with the gentle relaxation of ‘Shooting Fish’, followed by the earthy depths of ‘Union Street’ – the rapture of the audience is as clear as it could be, you really could hear a pin drop. This recording is essential Tiernan & Lester featuring fourteen tracks and throughout they reflect the level of musical communication between the artists. Take your pick, the subtle seduction always remains, ‘So Many Reasons’, ‘Skinny’, ‘Boxcar Ballerinas’ or ‘The Rainbow Over Magen’s Bay’ – whether your new to this duo or a long-time familiar fan, the richness of this recording will establish it as a firm favourite."
Charlie Elland, FolkWords 1/11/15
I'm very pleased to be playing a series of double bill shows with Irish singer-songwriter Paul Tiernan. Paul and I will be playing 4 house concerts and 4 Bay Area venues in celebration of our new live album release earlier this year. Following the performances I have booked a recording session to start my next studio release (due out next year). The album will feature Paul on guitar and vocals, as well as New York drummer Tim Bulkley. Tim is also playing our show at Angelicas in Redwood City on Thursday Set 17th. See the "Shows" page for more info.
For the second year running I will be musical director and MC for the Farallone View Elementary School Talent Show here in our coastal town of Montara, about 3o minutes south of San Francisco. This year's show is on Friday May 1st. We will have 49 different acts and run a full PA and light show. I must say, I love working with these kids. We'll have singers, dancers, gymnasts, a rock band, comedians, puppeteers, and more. I've been rehearsaing with the acts since early March, teaching them how to be the best performers they can be. At this age, the sky is the limit for them.
Tonight, I’ve been invited to be a judge at the 25th Anniversary of the West Coast Songwriter’s (formerly NCSA) Open Mic Competition at The Freight in Berkeley starting at 7:30pm.
The WCS and the Freight have each had a huge influence on my own songwriting and performance. In the mid-90’s when I made the switch from being a freelance bassist to following the singer-songwriter path, I spent many an evening going down to the Freight to watch the master storytellers. Already in my thirties, I had never performed by myself on stage, though I had years of experience as a bassist in bands. I wasn’t really a “folkie”, but I took in performances at The Freight by the likes of Greg Brown, Dan Bern, and Chris Smither and saw how one person, on stage alone, could captivate an audience for hours.
When I started playing open mics, the WCS’s judged open mic’s gave me critical feedback on both my performances and my writing. I also spent time pitching song demos to publishers from NYC, LA, and Nashville at the many WCS song-pitching events. There, and at the open mics, I learned the value of song crafting. I learned that each line in a song must have a specific purpose. In three and a half minutes, there’s no time to waste on a weak line. I got feedback from people who weren’t my friends simply saying how “great I was”. Instead, I got professional critiques…and they didn’t always say I was great, but always gave me the feedback I needed. I went back to the drawing board with my songs many a time after those sessions and eventually learned to be my own critic. I learned where to set the bar for my own work.
In 1999, at the WCS Freight and Salvage Open Mic Playoffs, presenting winners from the previous 11 monthly open mic competitions, I won my first Song of the Year Award. Besides boosting my confidence as a performer, the award led to another performance at the annual WCS conference that September, which proved to be a career-changing event for me. I met Gretchen Peters there and would go on to tour with her as bassist and opening act on three European Tours.
Other doors opened for me through The Freight and Salvage as well. In March of 2001, I played a show there on my birthday. The engineer, Lou Judson, recorded that night and this show, in its entirety, became my first album “Live at the Freight and Salvage Coffee House”. From then on, I was a singer-songwriter.
Tonight I’ll sit in the judge’s chair and listen to young songwriter’s looking to get their starts. I’m very thankful to the WCS and the Freight, and I look forward to handing down some of the things I’ve learned along the way. Also, each judge gets to perform one song, so I’ll be playing my 1999 winning song “The Ways of a Woman”.
For those of you in the East Bay, come down to the Freight at 7:30 and help us celebrate what has now become a 25-year tradition!