Jon Butcher is a Grammy nominated singer and songwriter who is part of a select group of influential recording artists comprising the Boston music scene.
His videos have appeared on MTV and his hit songs include: “Life Takes A Life” ,”Wishes”, “Holy War”, “Goodbye Saving Grace” and “Waiting For A Miracle” which comprise the underpinnings of a music career that continues today.
Butcher has his own signature sound, particularly his guitar work which represents a skillful mix of Americana rock, R & B, Jazz and folk. All of his music is focused through a prism built from the Blues.
Butcher’s Electric Factory Music Company provides film scores, soundtrack and music licensing services for television and film companies looking for something decidedly unique. With it’s launch at FOX in 1991, ELECTRIC FACTORY has provided music for all of the major network and cable television carriers through shows like; the currently running hit show, Shameless (Showtime), United States of Tara (Showtime), Ugly Betty (ABC), The Simpsons (Fox), Six Feet Under (HBO), Deadwood (HBO), My Name Is Earl (NBC), and many more.
In 2013-2014 he released AXIS 3, the new Cd by The Jon Butcher Axis in addition to live touring dates. The AXIS will undertake, “Celebrating The Music of JIMI HENDRIX” in select theaters across the United States. Finally, his sister project, the acoustic blues-based Two Road East will also tour the US.
He’s had 17 international CD releases and international critical and guitar media acclaim.
Examiner spoke with Butcher about his upcoming projects and his career thus far.
Butcher: “You bet. AXIS returns to the very cool Larcom Theatre in Beverly MA on NOV 8. We played there last year and it was a gas, one of the best stops of our 2013 performance series. And speaking of New England we’re also coming to the Flying Monkey Performance Center in Plymouth NH, our first visit there, Sat NOV 22. Those are the concert dates for this part of the country.There’s also a possible BAREFOOT SERVANTS Reunion show sometime in 2015. There’s nothing calendared yet but Ben [Schultz, co-founder of BAREFOOT SERVANTS] and I are talking so we’ll see. And we’ll need to float the idea past Lee at some point, now THAT’s one busy guy!”
Examiner: Where did you play your first show as a professional musician and what was that like?
Butcher: “I guess ‘professional’ means you get paid right ? That would have to be with my first band, JOHANNA WILD. That name might not mean much beyond MA/NH/VT/ME, but back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Johanna Wild, was it in terms of local band mythology. Jeff Linscott, Troy Douglas Sutler III, Derek Blevins and myself ran rampant and made money, selling our own merchandise and producing our own live concert performances.”
Examiner: What was that like ?
Butcher: “It was terrific.”
Examiner: Are you originally from the Boston area? You were living in California for some time, is that when you became more involved doing television scores? Who brought you in to that area of music?
Butcher: “I’m not from Massachusetts but came to Boston for college. Coincidentally, Johnny A and I went to the same school, pretty much at the same time. He used to beat me up for my lunch money but all is forgiven now. Once I’d gotten a taste of Boston, by way of Alaska and Pennsylvania, long story there, I’d resolved to not leave after college, but in fact stayed on to dive headlong into the local music scene. In those days Boston was like the 1960’s era London- tons of talent of every description and lots of places to play. And not for free either.”
Examiner: Can you tell us about the filming of “Kiss the Sky” and where it will be shown?
Butcher: “KISS THE SKY is a feature-length film written and directed by film-maker Norman Lang. It’s the story of a world-acclaimed musician who loses his way and is redeemed through the reconnection to his long lost Stratocaster, which in fact comes to life. I play the lead character Johnny Payne, Tara-Pierce-Buck (from HBO’s hit series TRUE BLOOD) plays Johnny’s Stratocaster. The movie is in production and will debut in Reykjavik Iceland during 2015 prior to world-wide release.”
Examiner: How is your newest recording, Axis 3, in comparison to your earlier work?
Butcher: “AXIS 3 was the first JON BUTCHER AXIS cd to be released since the band was originally together touring and recording. We recorded new versions of OCEAN IN MOTION and LIFE TAKES A LIFE the way they were originally intended. Our newest recording however is called ‘EXPERIENCED’ which will release NOV 8. We’d intended it to be a companion to our live touring show exploring the music of Jimi Hendrix, albeit in different ways than previously done. But the more we recorded the more original material found it’s way onto the Cd, as a result EXPERIENCED is multi-tiered. We get into some serious Jimi jams but we’ve also included original music on the disc as well. People will love it.”
Examiner: When was the moment in your career that you realized, “I’m going to do this!”
Butcher: “I went to school at Graham Junior College for Broadcast Journalism in Boston in ’74. My college dorm was located right in the heart of Kenmore Square. One fine, warm spring day during my first month at school I hoisted my Fender Bandmaster amplifier in my dormatory window, with the window wide open. Springtime in Boston is pretty cool. I then proceeded to blast a few highdecibel Hendrix licks out that dorm window, and was immediately rewarded with a positive response from everyone on the street below. And instant notoriety from the student body. I knew in that moment that I was right where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to be doing.”
Examiner: Any WOW moments or road warrior stories that you care to share?
Butcher: “It’s nearly impossible to gather one WOW road story among a thousand or so over the years That being said, AXIS once played a show in San Juan Puerto Rico as a stop on a tour, when we got there we all noticed a huge wall of chicken-wire fencing in front of the stage. We asked about it. The guy at the venue said, ‘ if they like you they throw things- money, food, bottles.’ As we found out later while being pelted from several thousand happy concert-goers, this was true. Of course that same day Tony our sound engineer was robbed at gunpoint while laying on the beach in broad daylight, but that’s another story..”
Examiner: How do you think the music business has changed over the past twenty years or so?
Butcher: ” Resisting the temptation to opine about the good old days, the fact is there are fewer and fewer venues for bands and artists to work in now. There are a lot of reasons for that but the fact still remains. And even though there are countless ways to distribute music beyond the original record company pathways, it’s become increasingly difficult to actually sell music via a vis Cd’s. Free downloading has all but eradicated the old models, the old ways of making and disseminating music. As a consequence this is both good and bad news for working musicians. Exposing your music to the world is easier thanks to the internet, but getting paid and otherwise making a living is much, much more difficult. I think they call that a paradox.”
For more info on Butcher: www.jonbutcher.com
Upcoming dates include:
November 8, 2014 – Larcom Theatre in Beverly Massachusetts
More info: www.larcomtheatre.com
November 22, 2104 – The Flying Monkey Performance Center in Plymouth New Hampshire
More info: www.flyingmonkeynh.com