Jonathan Wilson (musician)

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Jonathan Wilson
Jonathan Wilson at Troubadour 2.jpg
Background information
Birth nameJonathan Spencer Wilson
Born (1974-12-30) December 30, 1974 (age 46)
Forest City, North Carolina, U.S.
OriginLaurel Canyon, Los Angeles
  • Singer-songwriter
  • producer
  • musician
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • piano
  • percussion
  • keyboard
Years active1995–present
Associated acts
Jonathan Wilson - musician, songwriter, record producer, guitar builder, guitarist, drummer, singer
Jonathan Wilson in Copenhagen [photo by Palle Demant]

Jonathan Wilson (born December 30, 1974) is an American musician and record producer based in Topanga, California, United States.

Early life[edit]

Wilson was born on December 30, 1974 in Forest City, North Carolina and raised in nearby Spindale, North Carolina. His father was a bandleader[1] and his grandfather a Baptist pastor whose services Wilson was often invited to play at. Wilson has cited his upbringing in North Carolina and the state's rich musical heritage as an early influence.[2]



Wilson founded the band Muscadine with Benji Hughes in 1995. The band released their debut album, The Ballad of Hope Nicholls, on Sire Records in 1998.

Solo career[edit]

Wilson released his album Gentle Spirit on Bella Union on August 8, 2011 in the UK and Europe and on September 13, 2011 in the US. The album debuted at number 15 on the UK Indie Chart and was awarded the #4 spot on Mojo's 2011 Best Albums of the Year list.[3] Gentle Spirit features many special guests including Barry Goldberg, Chris Robinson, Gary Louris, Andy Cabic, Otto Hauser, Josh Grange, Gary Mallaber, Z Berg, Adam McDougall, Johnathan Rice, among others. Jonathan was named Uncut Magazine's 2011 "New Artist of the Year".[4]

In April 2012, Wilson released "Pity Trials and Tomorrow's Child", a limited edition vinyl EP on Bella Union for Record Store Day 2012. American Songwriter named it, "Five Things To Look For On Record Store Day".[5] One of the album's three tracks, a cover of George Harrison's "Isn't It A Pity", includes guest vocals by Graham Nash.

In October 2013, Wilson released his second album, Fanfare, on Downtown Records and Bella Union. The album debuted at #8 on the UK Indie Chart, #50 on the UK Overall Chart, #18 in the Norway Overall Chart and #49 in the Netherlands in its first week. Uncut Magazine and Rolling Stone Germany named Fanfare its Album of the Month the month of its release. The album features contributions from David Crosby, Graham Nash, Jackson Browne, Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Father John Misty, Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes) and Patrick Sansone (Wilco). The album also features Wilson's band, including Jason Borger, Omar Velasco, Richard Gowen and Dan Horne. Roy Harper wrote the lyrics to the song "New Mexico".

In February 2018, he released his third solo album Rare Birds.[6] On March 6 2020, he released his new solo album called Dixie Blur. Wilson also completed a solo album titled Frankie Ray in 2007. The record was never officially released.

Record producer and other projects[edit]

Record production[edit]

Wilson currently[when?] maintains his recording studio, Fivestar Studios, in Echo Park, Los Angeles, which he relocated from its original location in Laurel Canyon in 2009.

Over several months in 2013 and 2014, Wilson produced and played on Conor Oberst's new album Upside Down Mountain released on Nonesuch Records in May 2014. The album was recorded at Wilson's Fivestar Studios in Los Angeles and Blackbird Studios in Nashville.

In 2013 Wilson produced "Jubilee", the fifth album from Canadian band, The Deep Dark Woods in Alberta, Canada.

In 2012, Wilson co-produced and played on Roy Harper's latest album, Man and Myth (Bella Union, 2013) at Fivestar Studios. In the same year, Wilson produced a Glen Campbell session at Fivestar Studios for Daytrotter.

In 2011, Wilson co-produced and played on the debut Father John Misty record, Fear Fun released on Sub Pop, at Fivestar Studios.

In 2010, Wilson produced and collaborated with Bonnie 'Prince' Billy on a series of songs for release on Spiritual Pajamas Records, a boutique 7" label associated with Folk Yeah Presents. Wilson recorded and produced Dawes' debut album, North Hills, at his Laurel Canyon studio. That same year, Wilson recorded and produced Dawes' second album, Nothing Is Wrong, at Five Star Studio.

As part of Wilson's project, What You Need Is What You Have, The Songs of Roy Harper, Wilson has produced songs performed by Will Oldham, Andy Cabic, Chris Robinson, Benji Hughes, Dawes, Jenny O., Johnathan Rice, Josh Tillman, and others. Wilson also produced Jason Boesel's album, Hustler's Son, Mia Doi Todd's album Cosmic Ocean Ship and mixed Goodnight Lenin's debut album, In The Fullness Of Time, due for release in late 2014. Wilson has also recorded and/or produced many other artists in his studio, including Gerald Johnson, James Gadson, and Josh Tillman.

Other music projects[edit]

In 2010 and 2011, Wilson collaborated with Erykah Badu in the studio on several songs, only one of which was officially released. Wilson also appeared as a special guest with Erykah Badu at her 2011 Coachella performance.

In April 2011, Wilson performed with Robbie Robertson and Dawes on CBS's Late Show with David Letterman, ABC's The View and Later... with Jools Holland in support of Robertson's album How to Become Clairvoyant.

In the fall of 2011, Wilson was invited by Roy Harper as a special guest at Royal Festival Hall as part of Harper's sold out 70th birthday celebration. Wilson also toured with Wilco in the fall of 2011 for 15 shows across the UK & Europe. In July 2011 Wilson performed and collaborated with Jackson Browne and Dawes on a mini tour throughout Spain. Wilson performed at the 2011 benefit concert for Musicians United for Safe Energy at Shoreline Amphitheater joining Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt, John Hall, The Doobie Brothers, Jason Mraz, Tom Morello, Kitaro, Sweet Honey In The Rock and others. Wilson was joined onstage by Jackson Browne and Graham Nash to perform his song "Gentle Spirit". Wilson also joined Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne, Bonnie Raitt and others for the concert's finale, "Teach Your Children".

In August 2012, Jonathan was featured as a guest of Move Me Brightly, a tribute to Jerry Garcia in honor of his 70th birthday. The event was held at Bob Weir's TRI Studios in Marin County, California and featured other guests and musicians including Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Donna Jean Godchaux, Jeff Chimenti, and many others. In June 2012, Jonathan and his band were invited by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers to support them on their 2012 European tour, which included 2 sold out nights at Royal Albert Hall.

In 2013, Wilson is curated a collection of songs as part of What You Need Is What You Have, The Songs of Roy Harper, a Roy Harper tribute album that includes songs performed by Will Oldham, Andy Cabic, Chris Robinson, Benji Hughes, Dawes, Jenny O., Johnathan Rice, Josh Tillman, and others. Wilson was a member of The Emerald Triangle, a touring collaboration with Andy Cabic, Johnathan Rice, Neal Casal, and Husky. In addition, Wilson has recorded projects and/or performed with Johnathan Rice for Reprise Records, Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes and Phil Lesh from the Grateful Dead,[7] Ramblin' Jack Elliott, and Bert Jansch.

In 2017, Wilson appeared on Roger Waters' "Is This The Life You Really Want?" release and played with Waters on the 2017–18 Us + Them tour.[8]

Laurel Canyon[edit]

Wilson is credited with revitalizing the Laurel Canyon music scene[9] with the help of his many friends and is featured in the 2009 book Canyon of Dreams by rock historian Harvey Kubernik.[10] Wilson had hosted private jam sessions at his compound in Laurel Canyon that involved Andy Cabic, Pat Sansone and John Stirratt of Wilco, Gerald Johnson, Johnathan Rice, Gary Louris and Mark Olson of The Jayhawks, Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes, David Rawlings, Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Jakob Dylan, and other notable artists who have played professionally with and/or in The Electric Flag, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Van Morrison, The Cars, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Miller Band, and Pearl Jam. The jam was founded by Wilson and Chris Robinson.


Solo artist[edit]

  • Frankie Ray, Pretty and Black Records, 2007
  • Gentle Spirit, Bella Union, 2011 (UK Indie chart peak: #15)
  • Pity Trials and Tomorrow's Child, Bella Union, 2012
  • Fanfare, Downtown Records / Bella Union, October 2013 (UK Indie chart peak: #8, UK Albums Chart peak: #50, Norway chart peak #18)
  • Slide By, November 2014
  • Rare Birds, Bella Union, March 2, 2018 (UK Albums Chart peak: #79)
  • Dixie Blur, BMG, 2020
  • The Way I Feel & More, July 2020
  • 69 Corvette EP, August 2020
  • El Camino Real EP, September 2020
  • Rare Blur EP, November 2020

As part of Muscadine[edit]

  • The Ballad of Hope Nichols, Sire Records, 1998
  • LP2, Sire Records
  • Live From Studio East, Sire Records

Album production credits[edit]

Song production credits[edit]

  • Dawes, "Wild Tales", Be Yourself: A Tribute to Graham Nash's Songs for Beginners, Grass Roots Records, 2010
  • Johnathan Rice, "On The Line", Be Yourself: A Tribute to Graham Nash's Songs for Beginners, Grass Roots Records, 2010
  • Jonathan Wilson, "La Isla Bonita", Through The Wilderness, A Tribute To Madonna, Manimal Vinyl, 2007
  • Bonnie "Prince" Billy, "See You Again", What You Need Is What You Have, The Songs of Roy Harper, TBD, TBD
  • Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Mariee Sioux, Grass Roots Record Co., TBD
  • Johnathan Rice, "Goldfish", What You Need Is What You Have, The Songs of Roy Harper, TBD, TBD
  • Benji Hughes, "Another Day", What You Need Is What You Have, The Songs of Roy Harper, TBD, TBD
  • Chris Robinson, "Hallucinating Light", What You Need Is What You Have, The Songs of Roy Harper, TBD, TBD
  • Jenny O., "Cherish", What You Need Is What You Have, The Songs of Roy Harper, TBD, TBD
  • Whispertown2000, Acony Records
  • Ilya Monosov, Holy Mountain Records

Musician credits[edit]


  1. ^ Dominguez, Juliette (June 7, 2009). "Laurel Canyon's Latest Rock 'n' Roll Scene". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  2. ^ Barton, Laura (January 29, 2012). "Jonathan Wilson misses the blue, blue grass of home". The Guardian. Retrieved March 18, 2017.
  3. ^ "JW - MOJO 'Best Albums of 2011' - December 2011". Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  4. ^ "Flickr". Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Five Things To Look For On Record Store Day". Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  6. ^ "Rare Birds". Retrieved 2 March 2018.
  7. ^ "Spotlight: Jonathan Wilson". April 24, 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  8. ^ "Jonathan Wilson: That Space-Age Feeling". June 14, 2018. Retrieved 19 April 2020.
  9. ^ "Canyon Jam". 7 June 2009. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  10. ^ Roberts, Randall (23 September 2009). "First Glimpse at Harvey Kubernik's Canyon of Dreams: The Magic and Music of Laurel Canyon Photo Book and History". Retrieved 17 January 2018.

External links[edit]