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Jon Check Update
"It's not a give or a take/ to make it or break it," sings Jon Check,
in the opening line of "Whatever," the 4th track on his self-titled,
self-produced debut album, which hits stores on November 11th.
"Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches," he says. "No one
moment or decision should make or break what you believe in.
Basically, that song is about having the patience to persevere and not
be deterred by obstacles. It's about understanding the middle-ground."
For Check, a 22-year-old Pittsburgh-based Singer-songwriter, the past
year seemed full of those types of make-or-break moments, as he
self-produced his record in Pittsburgh while still finding time to
tour through some of the Northeast's hottest clubs: Baltimore's 8x10,
Philly's World Café Live and New York's Coda. Not too shabby for an
artist without a record deal or an album.
"Every time I'd get on stage, or make any type of choice regarding my
career, or go into the [recording] booth I'd be telling myself 'this
is it! This is your only chance to get it right!' But that's not a
realistic way to look at things. Since then I've learned to relax a
little bit and take it all one day at a time."
Regardless of Check's inner struggle to chill out, the fruits of his
labor reflect profound confidence, as well as musical and songwriting
The album's eight songs run the gamut in style, arrangement and
approach. "If You Come With Me," the gospel-tinged number that opens
the record, features screaming B-3 organ, uplifting lyrics and a
standout background vocal performance by Rusted Root's Liz Berlin.
"I'll Never Know" is a short and breezy rock tune propelled by smooth
acoustic strumming and electric piano trills --- until the end, when
it explodes into a soaring, exuberance fade.
"Yeah, we did that one completely live," he adds. "What you hear is
what we played once."
Two slower songs, "Heroes" and "For The Life of Me" showcase Check's
balladeer side, while "Prince Charming" and "Balconies and Bended
Knees" are upbeat, party numbers featuring beautifully arranged horns.
"Whatever" and the dramatic closer "Straight Talk" round out the album
with a more modern-sounding pop approach.
Featuring numerous guest appearances and credits including "speech
pathologists" and "life coaches," the album is sort of a who's who of
Pittsburgh's musical community, the city that welcomed him five years
ago and refused to let him go. From the very first month he arrived,
he says, he was playing in bands all over the city and eventually
hitting the road with projects like Cornbred and Flowdown.
Various connections within the community eventually got him in the
Rolodex of Mr. Small's Funhouse, a studio and performance venue whose
artistic outreach wing, Creative Life Support, funds qualifying
musicians to make records.
That was how the studio connection came up," he explains. "I just sort
of made myself a familiar face up there, going in to record on session
for different people. Then one day I mentioned that I wanted to do my
album and they were into it."
So he entered Small's newest studio in February, following a legacy
that includes 50 Cent, Ryan Adams, the Darkness and Rusted Root.
"Basically they said 'Go for it. We trust you and we believe in you.
Record all you want and don't worry about the money. That was really
encouraging to hear."
S.O.S. Artist: Jon Check
S.O.S. Artist: Jon Check - Song Title: Colorado
Jon Check was 18 when he visited us last.....
18 year old Jon Check is a singer-songwriter, hailing from the Bucks County area. Normally, he is half of the brotherly bluegrass/folk/acoustic roots rock duo The Check Brothers. But ever since Matt Check left town in January to romp across Europe for six months, Jon has been a little lonely. Since then, he's been slinging his guitar around the Philadelphia area, spreading the Gospel of Check anywhere he can, trying to convince people he really does have a group, and waiting for his other half to return in June. In August, The Check Brothers will move to Pittsburgh to cheer on the Steelers and get famous. Until then, Enjoy the soul of a musician
as he sings about his life and times… and try to imagine the sweet sounds of Matts enveloping banjo and rugged voice harmonizing with his brother's, floating from somewhere across the Atlantic