Park City, Utah’s Mountain Town plays “Acoustic Music From The American West” in the style of traditional country music. Dr. Jon has been a performing musician for over 20 years, and his music blends traditional country with bluegrass and folk, yearning pedal steels with dobros, and rhinestone-adorned suits. Dr. Jon has been playing piano and Flamenco guitar classically since he was six years old and has worked as a session musician in high school and college to help fund his dental school education. When he opened a dental office in Park City, the musicians who passed through the city on their way to and from the thriving local music scene gave him the “nickname” Mountain Town.
Mountain Town has played at the Scottsdale Arizona Music Festival alongside the Kingston Trio and as an opening act for Arlo Guthrie. They’ve shared the stage with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot at the Sundance Film Festival, and KPCW’s “Fresh Tracks Friday” in Park City has played their music. The sound of Mountain Town is like the collaboration between the Flying Burrito Brothers and Townes Van Zandt, with influences from George Jones and the late, great Hank Williams. It’s soothing enough to cry to, hopeful enough to remind you that things will get better, and comforting enough to let you know you’re not alone. Great Music for Sad Occasions.
Similar artists to Mountain Town include Old Crow Medicine Show, Chris Isaak, The Mavericks, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Johnny Cash, and, of course, Willy Nelson.
They released their first full-length album, titled “Far From Home.” In an effort to provide strength and light in these uncertain times, this album blends traditional themes of the American West with the common struggles that so many people endure today. Album contributors include Nashville’s NashVox recordings (which were self-released) and London, UK’s The Animal Farm Music (which released the album). Check out the latest album & the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how you got started?
MOUNTAIN TOWN: No mystery here – Loved music from an early age and my parents were kind enough to fund professional lessons and relatively decent instruments. As a lad, fell into folk, country music (used to listen to The Grand Ol’ Opre) and the ‘rock’ of the 80’s. Played music in College and Dental School to help buy books and when it was time to open up the Dental Practice – it really helped to get people in the door in my relatively small town of Park City, Utah. In 2019 I began self recording and publishing since I was working a few years at a Navy Hospital on the East Coast and was noticed by The Animal Farm Music of London, UK.
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
MOUNTAIN TOWN: A combination of both. For the formative years, it was all professional music education with my ‘Folkie’ side reserved for after proper rehearsal. As the years rolled, the improv took over the structured side, just as the original music I do now has taken over the covers I used to do. I’ve dabbled in co-writes and structured songwriting, but much prefer to just write alone and from the heart. That being said, when Ville from the label makes a suggestion, I usually take it – HA!
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘MOUNTAIN TOWN’?
MOUNTAIN TOWN: My favorite influences are the 20th century musicians that you’ll find on stage at The Grand Ol’ Opre. Their showmanship, storytelling and heart speak to me like no other. Mountain Town is named for the place that I call home…Park City, Utah. It’s the place that I moved West to be, it’s the place that I built my practice and countless friendships and the place where I always find peace.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
MOUNTAIN TOWN: We’ve got two flavors of sound in the Mountain Town catalog. The polished, theatrical pieces are produced by The Animal Farm and I must say that our Producer Mat Leppanen brings out musical textures that are absolutely incredibly deep, complex and alluring. With the labels support, our self published works (mixed and mastered in Nashville, TN by NashVox Studios) are much more gritty and raw. Mountain Town started out as a ‘jingle jangle Gypsy band’ with rotating musicians and a very care-free ‘mountain vibe’. We carry that through but also offer much more professional pieces suitable for radio play and when audiences want to see just how far we can go musically.
6. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative and entertainment?
Music is a wonderful vehicle and it can unify and motivate people (for the right or wrong reasons). I try to keep politics out of our songs (but not on the Union strong “Strike ‘Till The End”) and allow the audience to take the journey with me. After a show, a crying gal came up to me and asked “Why do you play such sad songs – it just makes me cry” and I told her “It’s because we’re all human and I’m here to cry with you” as I gave her a hug. That became the theme for the song ‘Find Some Gold’.
7. Do you feel that your music is giving you back just as much fulfilment as the amount of work you are putting into it, or are you expecting something more, or different in the future?
Playing the music when it’s showtime does 100% bring me as much fulfillment as I’d ever hope for but I have to say, the business side is just as annoying as the dental office.
8. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
I’m a notebook guy. I write down themes, lyrics and ideas in the morning, in the middle of the night, after coming home from the bar, while I’m flying around in airplanes. When I get an idea that I really like, I’ll just develop it. My re-writes are all by hand in those notebooks. First the words, then the music, finally the solos. I pitch it to the label or the band and we work it up from there. My preference is for solo writing….I’m sure I drive my Wife nuts with it because I need absolute silence when it’s writing time. I kid that the inspiration is like a horse that can easily be spooked and scared away.
9. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
Technology. I’m a pencil and pad kind of guy. But I’m optimistic! Big music corporations have to commission blind ad campaigns – smaller artists can connect very easily in the technology age.
10. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
MOUNTAIN TOWN: Freedom and respect doing the music we believe in. To call the label and to be able to get advice and mentorship at the drop of a hat. To be able to call a booking agent and get successful bookings. To sell $500 in merchandise at shows and really connect with people at the meet and greets. I’ll still never get over the joy of getting a rousing applause for a song that I’ve written and that we’ve performed well which brings joy to the audience.
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