Jon Linker hunches over his plate of ribs, getting in a quick meal while he discusses plans to set up for the show that night. He stands a few inches over 6 feet tall and decks a beard worthy of the Duck Dynasty clan. He’s wearing a button down flannel shirt, jeans and large leather boots.
His ensemble creates an appearance that clearly says “stand back,” but in reality Linker’s personality couldn’t be further away from stand-offish.
His group, Jon Linker Band, remains a favorite with students at UNC Charlotte who frequent bars around the school. Local to the Piedmont region, the band plays a couple times a week in the University area and Linker, lead singer and guitarist, plays solo gigs as well, including an open mic night he hosts weekly on Wednesdays at Boardwalk Billy’s.
The group members’ interactive relations with the University area community takes their reputation to the next level. They’re always willing to talk with fans, and quickly respond on networking sites.
The band proclaimed first fan Ethan Creed, a UNC Charlotte Civil Engineering major, tries to attend shows whenever he can. “I saw them perform at Bad Dogs one Sunday this summer and loved their alternative southern vibe,” said Creed. “I went up to Jon after the show and shook his hand and he’s never forgotten who I was. I just enjoy watching him perform. I think he’ll become a comedian one day.”
The fan’s support means a lot to the band for varying reasons. Although Creative Loafing Magazine posts all their show times, the band rarely gets coverage besides word of mouth from their fans. The members spend time interacting with supporters before, after and even during the shows. While finishing their food before the show, over a dozen people approach them, which a majority of the band knows by name. No more than five minutes pass before someone else walks up to get in a few words, and they couldn’t be happier about it.
Earlier that day Linker spent his free time looking for the Charlotte Beard and Mustache club meeting, a group he now feels accomplished enough to join after a few years of working on his facial hair. “I’ve been working on mine for just as long, but I can’t keep up. Jon’s definitely the beard man of the group,” said Harry Kolm, bass player for the group. Kolm bears a flesh colored beard that looks more like he forgot to shave this week than actually tried to grow it out.
Kolm has played with Linker longer than the other two members, Taylor Newell on drums and Julian (Jay) Boucherle on guitar and vocals, but they all rag on each other like a group of brothers. Each of the members brings a different flavor to the group. Kolm loves jazz-rock fusion, while Boucherle is into blues.
Newell’s interest in funky beats takes his music listening anywhere from dubstep to old school funk. The one genre they all agree on and tend to have the most influence on the group’s music is ’90s grunge alternative. Hearing Linker’s Eddy Veeder style voice on top of their melodic acoustics makes the influence easy to identify.
“We are not a country band,” the members said loudly in unison. While they admit to enjoying the classic forms of country like Johnny Cash, they can’t stand being compared to modern country music. Southern rock infiltrates their songs, but never country.
If you’re a fan, you know to pay close attention to Linker’s voice too, and not just for the sound. While the other members make up the rhythm section, Linker provides the words. Lyrics are the most important element in a song to him, and it’s where the band starts when creating a new song. The band’s newest songs feature Boucherle as lead vocals, which show goers liked last Thursday during their show at the Milestone.
The band’s success and recognition started to take off rapidly within the past year and they’ll be spending this summer traveling and doing shows. Linker loves playing live, but making records in the studio is where he really wants to be.
Finding time to practice can be hard and they usually use shows as practice time. The four members make up five other bands as well, though Jon Linker Band holds the fort for priority. When things get more settled, they hope to have more time to dedicate to recording albums. The band prefers playing at smaller venues with an intimate crowd.
During summer Linker opened up to his student fan base that he had become comfortable with, allowing him to experiment live. One night, he announced to the crowd that he felt like he was playing in his own living room –hence the little of the band’s first album, The Living Room. Now working on their third album, the band has come a long way since then and the future looks promising.
“I want to have a sponsored tour. I don’t want to get in a van and travel all around the place looking for gigs and trying to promote myself. We just want to make enough to live off of and start putting out records. I’ll be playing music and making records until the day I die,” said Linker.
To hear Jon Linker Band and find out about their next show, click here.