Musician connects with audiences through acoustic songs

Singer-songwriter Jonathan Foster will perform on the Stio Stage at Miners Park on Main Street on Saturday. The performance is part of Mountain Town Music’s summer concerts.
Photo by Keli Tims

Singer-songwriter Jonathan Foster recalls his first visit to Utah from his childhood home in upstate New York.

“I was 10 and the mountains eclipsed ours,” said Foster, who will perform June 25 on the Stio Stage at Miner’s Park. “I knew I wanted to travel to different places.”

Travel is one of Foster’s muses for songwriting.

“I had cousins ​​taking us to California,” he said. “I come from a very small place and I’m always fascinated by diversity wherever I go.”

I just need to remember when I release a song, I’ll have to play 300 or 400 times…” Jonathan Foster, singer and songwriter

In addition to traveling, Foster finds lyrical inspiration in ideas that amuse her or events that take place in the world.

“Sometimes I write about things I’ve seen or something that confuses me,” he says. “There is always something I wonder about: where do we come from? And how did we get here as a society and community? »

Other times, Foster’s songs are just “awkward.”

“I try to dig holes where I don’t even know where I’m going, so I try to meet the listener halfway,” he said with a laugh.

Foster developed his acoustic folk-rock style throughout his decade-long career.

“I’ve always been drawn to songs reduced to acoustic versions, and when listening to live music, I gravitated towards the softer aesthetic of singer-songwriters,” he said. “I also think as I got older my ears got burnt out from loudspeakers and playing rock ‘n’ roll in bands in college. So, I wanted to do the softer, acoustic singer-songwriter kind of folk-rock.

Foster grew up with music.

“My first instrument was the trumpet, and my father and grandfather had harmonicas,” he said. “I learned to read music when I was in seventh and eighth grade piano, because we were lucky enough to have music at school with a choir, a band, and musicals.”

A friend’s father introduced the guitar to Foster.

“He owned a pawnshop and basically gave me this pre-classic guitar,” Foster said. “It was made in Korea and it had nylon strings.”

Foster’s second guitar was a Fender that got beaten so badly that he lost interest in playing for a while, he said.

That changed when he got his hands on a cheap but brand new Martin composite made from faux wood.

“I call it my campfire guitar because you can leave it outside in the rain,” Foster said with a laugh. “But this guitar played so differently, and it was my first introduction to how a guitar can feel good with your voice and feel good with your songwriting. It was a giant step forward. »

Foster is a self-taught guitarist.

“It was a long process, and I still have that wonky style that some people laugh at while others tell me it’s ‘very unique,'” he said with a laugh. “But it all stems from necessity. I always try to turn it into submission.

Over the past ten years, Foster has released five independent studio albums, including “Lantern Shade”, released in 2021.

Last April, the singer-songwriter released a single, “Mountain Echo”, which is unrelated to the album.

“My goal is to keep releasing song after song, unless there’s a demand for a bigger project,” he said. “I used to release an album every two years for the past 10 years, but I don’t know if that will continue. I am however a fan of the old-school album concept and the listening to albums.

In addition to recording and releasing her albums, Foster has toured the country several times.

“I mean that’s what I do best,” he said. “I write lyrics and I play melodies that have kind of an aesthetic to the ear and I try to find an audience for that. I just have to remember that when I release a song I’m going to have to play 300 or 400 times. So I better like it.