Over the years, Jon Shain has developed and refined his own contemporary version of the Piedmont Blues, a bouncy, energetic style that developed in Shain’s adopted hometown of Durham, NC and elsewhere around the region. “I’d done several albums in a row that really sound like my live group: heavy on the harmonica, heavy on the dobro, and with a sound that is identifiably folk-blues,” Shain says. “I knew I wanted to do something different this time.”
On Ordinary Cats, his eighth solo album, Shain doesn’t abandon that sensibility completely, but he does plug it in and crank it up. “I knew I would be playing some electric guitar on this record,” he says. “I haven’t put a lot of electric guitar on my albums. I’ve played it on other people’s albums more than my own.” The result is a modern revisiting of the roots-rock (what some now call Americana) sound associated with Stephen Stills and Neil Young, at times. But there is still a generous amount of fingerpicked acoustic guitar from Shain, a former International Blues Challenege finalist in the solo/duo category.
Shain’s longtime musical collaborator, FJ Ventre, co-produced and engineered <i>Ordinary Cats</i>, as well as playing bass and providing backing vocals. Other major contributors to the album include Chris Stamey of the dB’s, who mixed the album, and Greg Humphreys on harmony vocals, currently making a name for himself as a solo artist after years fronting the NC bands Hobex and Dillon Fence. Pete Connolly, of the NC indie band Birds and Arrows, contributed drums to several tracks as well.
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