Jon Ponder is a singer and songwriter based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. With songs grown from a rich storytelling tradition, Jon’s acoustic guitar and clear voice leave an impression. His songs range in style from old-time-tinged to country to contemporary folk and folk-rock. There are travel songs, heartbreak songs, and songs about family and origins, but the common thread throughout his songwriting is stories and images that take the listener to specific times, places, people, and experiences.
Jon Ponder comes from a line of musicians. He learned harmony singing, some guitar, and a little stagecraft from his dad, who has led a musical life as a tenor in a southern gospel group, a solo singer, a guitar player, and a Stan Freberg pantomimist. Jon is also influenced by his grandpa’s pickin’ and grinnin’ and stories of playing country music with his brothers while growing up in East Texas.
Jon began singing early on in church and school choirs, then playing guitar at age 16, and had his first performance experiences leading church song services. He grew up in southern California, went to college in Washington state, and has lived and traveled in the Marshall Islands, Greece, Jordan, and Yosemite, among other places. Jon moved from California to Michigan in 2006 to attend the University of Michigan. It was in Michigan, exposed to the vibrant folk music scene there, that his songwriting developed.
Many a Good Long Year, the first full-length album from Jon Ponder, was released in January 2016. The album showcases the poetry, melody, and storytelling that define Jon Ponder as a musician. Initially writing heartbreak songs, Jon began to find a new songwriting voice by returning to his grandpa's stories and to his own memories of his grandma and grandpa. The new album intertwines these stories and memories of grandparents and family with his own stories of finding his way in the world.
Jon recorded the album primarily with two of his music pals and collaborators, Eric Anderson and Danielle Gartner, who play and sing on 10 out of the 12 tracks. The talents of these additional fine Michigan musicians also bring the songs to life: Allison Stanley, Robbie Linkner, Bruce Gartner, Jason Dennie, Mark Lavengood, and Drew Howard. Instrumentally, the album employs varied lineups and arrangements: vocal harmonies, guitar, banjo, cello, mandolin, dobro, fiddle, pedal steel, bass, and drums.