Jon Shain grew up in Haverhill, Massachusetts, a Merrimack River mill-town that had already seen its better days by the time he was a child in the 1970s. His family’s business was a small textile dyeing company, and he worked in the factory during the summers throughout his teens. At the same time, Shain began to discover his love of American roots music and songwriting, specifically drawn to the narratives about regular people and themes of social justice.
Shain headed south to North Carolina in 1986, to study American History at Duke University and to continue his musical journey, as well. In addition to studying with jazz professor Paul Jeffrey, he also had the good fortune to learn the piedmont blues tradition firsthand by playing in Big Boy Henry‘s backing band. It was at this time that Shain also got to meet and play with John Dee Holeman and a number of the great older NC blues players. Shain's classes in school were heavily concentrated in southern history, English, and world religions. That mixture of the academic environment and the real-world blues music is what has most informed his musical direction.
Jon Shain is the rare folkie who truly brings the "chops" to his songs along with the lyrics. The last few years Shain has been playing esteemed listening rooms such as Passim in Cambridge, MA, Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs, NY, and Godfrey Daniels in Bethlehem, PA in addition to doing some of the highest profile shows of his career – opening sold out theatre shows for John Hiatt, Keb’ Mo’, Little Feat, and others.
When Shain is not recording or performing, he stays busy giving private instruction in Piedmont blues fingerstyle guitar, and teaching group workshops in songwriting and blues guitar. Whether in the one-on-one atmosphere of the teaching studio or onstage sharing a song with a roomful of strangers, Jon Shain is a natural communicator, keeping students and fans coming back for more.