J.L. Stiles at Mendelssohn

J.L. Stiles at Mendelssohn


Versatile guitar artist J.L. Stiles will perform for Charlotte’s Web this weekend, bringing his own unique blues, ballad and harmonica style into play. Be there at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22 when Stiles takes the stage at Mendelssohn Club, 415 N. Church St., and expect to have a good time!

The music created by J.L. Stiles doesn’t sound at all like what one might expect from a white, Jewish singer-songwriter born and raised in Connecticut—especially one who didn’t start playing the guitar until he was 18. His rubbery, expressive baritone sounds closest to the sweet croon of the late bluesman Ted Hawkins, and Stiles lays into his 12-string guitar with the vigor and ambition of a streetwise punk who just discovered Leo Kottke. Add in the winsome harmonica and the carefree, riding-the-rails folk song structure he uses, and “the 12 tracks on [his album] Solo Sessions achieve an earthy authenticity… simultaneously classic and original.” (Performing Songwriter DIY Top 12 Pick for December 2001). One hears the roots of his music in the hazy notes of forebears like Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker, Richie Havens and the defunct college rock band Miracle Legion.

While his blues chops may have gotten him through John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom Room door, it’s the introspective harmonica and guitar ballads… that best show off his songwriting… coolly crooned in between harp licks over homespun finger-work on a 12-string acoustic,” raved SF Weekly.

A native of Connecticut who spent five years gigging in New Orleans before relocating to San Francisco, “Stiles emerges as an exciting and fresh performer who could help start an entirely new wave of young blues artists,” stated the Southland Blues.

J.L. Stiles has shared the stage with Etta James, Keb Mo, Corey Harris, Tommy Castro and Joe Louis Walker, among others. In reviewing his latest album, The Oregonian praised his new CD: “Remember the name J.L. Stiles. The 29-year-old songwriter is the real deal as evidenced by his new, live-in-the studio CD, Solo Sessions.”

Performing Songwriter adds: “In ‘Nothing Here for Me,’ the cocky troubadour surveys the wealth of his new hometown, San Francisco, and confesses that he’s most at home hanging out with hippies at the BART station. In ‘Fellow Grove,’ he sings about his childhood pastime of rounding up golf balls at a country club and reselling them to a pro shop. Stiles may take his style from the rural side of America, but his sensibility remains true to his real roots.”

Tickets are $10 in advance or $12 at the door. Tickets are available at Rockford Area Arts Council, 713 E. State St., 963-6765; Canterbury Books, Highcrest Center, 398-1454; and Tin Whistle, N. Main & Auburn, 963-0270; or by mail with check and SASE, 10928 N. Main, Rockton, IL 61072. For Web information, call 964-2238.

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