Saturday, May 21, 2016

Water Hill Music Fest - Sunday May 1, 2016

A few weeks ago on Sunday May 1, we performed at the Water Hill Music Fest, a great outdoor, neighborhood music festival that happens in the Water Hill neighborhood of Ann Arbor every year on the first Sunday in May. I was excited when I moved into this neighborhood last year that I would be able to participate in this great festival. Eric Anderson, Azalea Grace, and I played an hour of music and had a good time!


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Marc Taras of WEMU and PJ's Used Records on "Many a Good Long Year"

I have come to know Marc by browsing and buying records and talking music with him at his store, PJ's Used Records, in Ann Arbor. I have discovered and come to love some great old, new-to-me music in the racks at PJ's--blues, jazz, old-time country.... When I brought in copies of my album to see if he would sell them in the store, he put it on the store stereo and responded immediately and enthusiastically to the songs and the sound. He has continued to offer kind words about his enjoyment and connection to the songs and also help in promoting the album. When I asked if he would be willing to write up a short description of the album, he had this to say:

Jon Ponder's Many a Good Long Year is a family affair of American song. While recorded in the Mitten state, it reflects his own family's East Texas roots, even including short pieces of personal history recorded by his grandfather's string band. Jon's own originals are deeply sincere slices of the modern "American Family" experience. His basic trio of guitar, banjo/mandolin, and cello (!) is augmented by some of Michigan's finest pickers and players, beautifully recorded, satisfying as a hot home cooked meal on a cold Michigan winter night. I invite you to join the family.

--Marc S. Taras hosts the radio program Cuban Fantasy on NPR affiliate 89.1 WEMU-FM, Ypsilanti, Michigan, online at, and holds down the fort at PJ's Used Records in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his beloved brother Jeff.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Jeremy Baldwin of The Roots Music Project on "Many a Good Long Year"

Jeremy Baldwin is the host of The Roots Music Project w/ Jeremy Baldwin on NPR affiliate 89.1 WEMU-FM in Ypsilanti, Michigan. He has played songs from my album a few times recently, and he graciously offered these words of description and review about the album:

Jon Ponder's new album, Many a Good Long Year, is an extremely personal statement in song. Ponder seeks his roots by going back in time through several generations of his family's history and, by default, American History. The songs always sound authentic because they are based on true life stories, sometimes with exact quotes from Ponder's ancestors. The lyrics are dense and filled with rich details, but they are always balanced with hummable melodies and often danceable rhythms. The core supporting musicians, Eric Anderson (banjo/mandolin) and Danielle Gartner (cello/vocals) share the spotlight with Ponder, along with an impressive guest list of Michigan instrumental all stars: Allison Stanley (drums), Robbie Linkner (bass), Bruce Gartner (fiddle), Jason Dennie (mandolin), Mark Lavengood (dobro), Drew Howard (pedal steel).  

Several members of Ponder's family even make appearances through archival recordings tracing their musical heritage. Jon Ponder reminds us that the more things change the more things stay the same. This recording is literally a labor of love and you can hear it in every note.

--Jeremy Baldwin, host of The Roots Music Project w/ Jeremy Baldwin on NPR affiliate 89.1 WEMU-FM in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Yellow Barn, Ann Arbor - Feb. 17

I'm playing a show Wed. Feb. 17 at The Yellow Barn in Ann Arbor. It's a great little listening room performance space, and they have recently started up a series of Wednesday night concerts with 2-3 acts on the bill. I'm playing from 7-8, blues duo Marten Murphy from 8-9, and West Park Music Society from 9-10. It's only $5 and there is free parking in front of the venue.

I'll be bringing along Eric Anderson on banjo and mandolin, John Nipper on drums/percussion, and Azalea Grace on harmony vocals. It should be a fun time! Come on out and tell your friends! 

Click here to go to the Facebook event and join!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Songwriting Thoughts and a Joseph Arthur Memory

A steady songwriting output comes more from work than from inspiration, but when I put in regular, disciplined time, I find that spontaneous moments of inspiration arrive more frequently and with more force. This picture is from 5 years ago. I went to Chicago to hear and see a Joseph Arthur concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music. A wonderful show where he sang, played, looped tracks, and painted (see the canvas in the background) while his layers of looped instrumentation played back. During his song “Chicago” (, one of those moments hit where I had to pull out a piece of paper and start scribbling my own lyrics. Incidentally, he seemed to have had one of those moments that evening too. The show started 20 or 30 minutes late, and when he came out on stage, he apologized and said he had been caught up backstage writing a new song that had just arrived. He had to get it to a certain point before stopping to perform the show or he would have lost it. So the other side of what I said when I started above is that, while the hard work and discipline are essential, the moment of inspiration is also essential—and fleeting. Whether it comes at the desk at the appointed hour or out in the world in the middle of other activities, if a certain something isn’t captured in the moment—the kernel or the seed, an important bit of melody, a key lyric or a relationship of words/images/ideas—the song is likely to be lost, at least for that time around. That night in the dark theater, I put down as many of the images, lines, and thoughts that arrived as I could; I got my ideas to a point where I could stop, be at peace, and listen to the concert. I continued writing my new song the next morning at breakfast at the youth hostel, surrounded by European travelers, and then the next day, back at home, I finished the lyrics and wrote the melody. I ended up with this song called “Bricked Up Windows (Out Here in Chicago),” which is on my new album and that you can listen to here: