Jon Gindick's Bio
How Many People Get to Do What They Love Their Entire Lives?
I have always been torn between being a writer and a musician. When I graduated from college with a degree in psychology, I spent several years writing short stories, novels, and songs. I gave harmonica lessons and jammed every chance I got.
I got myself a job as an advertising copywriter and honed my persuasive writing skills. Eventually, I put it all together, and I wrote and self-published my first book, a light-hearted, comically illustrated harmonica primer called The Natural Blues and Country Western Harmonica, and advertised it in “Rolling Stone” magazine classifieds.
Within a week, there were orders in the mailbox.
And thus, a one-man mail-order business was born. In the back of the book, I advertised lessons on tape cassettes, made a shipping office in my kitchen, and started sending those suckers out.
In 1984, a much larger publisher contacted me, and for them, I wrote Country and Blues Harmonica for the Musically Hopeless, which eventually sold over a million copies. It was a book, cassette, and harmonica packaged together (in a red net) and distributed to bookstores, toy stores, novelty stores, gift stores as well as music stores. It sold over 100,000 copies a year for 15 years. Thank you, Klutz Press!
Soon after, I made an instructional video with BB King. What an experience to sit down in a studio and jam in a duo with the man himself! At the time I don’t think I understood the enormity of this gift from the universe. Here’s a 1-minute clip of BB and I playing a duo.
Teaching groups and individuals, selling books and creating new ones became my full time career. My 3 week classes were full. A news team from NBC came to my classroom and filmed a segment that was aired nationwide.
I developed my own style of teaching individuals and groups. I paid attention to some of the emotional aspects of learning. I focused on the students and making learning fun. I also used my guitar playing to get them jamming.
In 2002, I started “Blues Harmonica Jam Camp,” an innovative and welcoming 5-day experience in Clarksdale, Mississippi, with 20 to 30 avid students, five master players/coaches. We stayed in shacks in a blues compound in the heart of the blues country, with classes and jams from 10 am to 10 pm (with a nice nap break!)
Over 20 years, I conducted about 50 of these events. My coaches included great players: Jason Ricci, Richard Sleigh, Dennis Gruenling, TJ Klay, RJ Mischo, Larry Eisenberg, Hash Brown, Cheryl Arena, Brian Purdy, Grant Dermody, and many others. Putting on these camps is how I developed my chops, experience, and knowledge.
Unmentioned so far is that I have written songs with serious lyrics and played harp and guitar on a rack throughout this entire journey. I have two albums of my songs with my best writing, singing, and harp work.
In 2000, I retired from Jam Camps. Yes, in some ways, I regret it, but in other ways, I am very happy to step aside and pursue other things.
Today I live in Ojai, California, writing songs, playing harp, filming harp lessons, and giving Skype consultations to harp players from all over the world. I enjoy working one-on-one with dedicated learners. I love teaching, and I feel that the harmonica has been my best friend over the past 50 years of finding my lonesome way in this mixed-up world.