Jonathan Wilson is an old soul with immense talent, but chances are you’ve never heard of this multi-instrumental Californian.
The softly spoken folk musician-come-producer has graced the stage with industry legends, jammed with Elvis Costello and even caught the attention of Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. But Wilson humbly takes it all in his stride.
“The band and I we were all studying those guys from the side of the stage,” Wilson says of supporting Tom Petty earlier this year. “I mean their songs are like the best you know? That was just an honour to be out there with those guys … they were extremely special times.”
Wilson’s affinity for music grew from childhood, with the enigmatic artist describing himself as “one of those kids obsessed with guitars, drums and songs”. “Back in the younger days when I wasn’t exposed to all the tough to find B sides … I was listening to bands of the day that you could hear on the airwaves, whether it was The Beatles, The Eagles, or the King.
“I was inspired by the shooting-for-the-stars kind of people where the goals were large and the productions were on a grand scale, and they were extremely creative so that’s always been the goal, to tap into some of that. But I’m also inspired by jazz, and that’s a big part of my past.”
With a diversity of inspiration behind him, Wilson’s 2011 debut album, ‘Gentle Spirit’, captures the true essence of his calm persona, and love for “old school” analogue recording techniques.
“The majority of the album was done to tape. It’s something that I’ve always done, not just for the sake of it but for the sound of it. It’s a proper way to record, it’s expensive, heavy; the machines break, and to fix it you have to get somebody or be schematic yourself. You have to be a musician, a tech and a scientist.”
Having made his mark on the fabled Laurel Canyon music scene in LA, Wilson is thrilled to be bringing his tunes to Australia. “People listen to the album and they’re sort of expecting this extremely mellow type of show, but the truth is the band definitely gives excitement to the songs so the live show is exciting.”
Jonathan Wilson performs at the Courier-Mail Spiegeltent as part of Brisbane Festival Sep 16-17.