J.S. Ondara Has A Bright Future
I saw J.S. Ondara at Newport Folk Festival this past summer, so I thought I was prepared for his show at The Sinclair in Cambridge on Friday night. As powerful as his previous performance was, this show topped it.
A self-proclaimed folk singer, Ondara emigrated to Minneapolis six years ago from his native Kenya to try to make it as a musician. Why Minneapolis you ask? Because that’s where Bob Dylan is from! It is as good a reason as any to move somewhere, but the climate must have been shocking to him!
His debut album is titled Tales of America and the reception to it has been nothing less than spectacular. So spectacular that he has already released an expanded version of the album that contains an additional five tracks. The songs – “American Dream”, “Saying Goodbye”, and “God Bless America” (to name a few) – are deeply personal and emotional. As I looked around the sold-out crowd, I saw many mouthing the words along with him.
Ondara is one of the most earnest performers making music today. Despite appearing comfortable on stage, he has not lost his charm; he has toured with such artists as Neil Young and Lindsey Buckingham, of whom he said ‘he has a bright future.’
He played two new songs for us which he called ‘A’ and ‘B’ and asked for name suggestions! I am interested to see the titles when his next album is released next year since he did not like the names audience members suggested. He told us a story about playing the last song he wrote for the album for his producer and, when asked what the name of the song was, he replied ‘Good Question’ which became the name!
This was a solo performance; at Newport, he did a number of songs solo and then the members of Dawes backed him up as they did on the album. Something he did not do at Newport was open his set with an a capella version of ‘Turkish Bandana’ which was sublime!
I remarked to my friend that I’d bet Ondara never thought he’d have a guitar tech, especially this early in his career. Mr. Ondara, I think you have a bright future!
Opening the show was a Nashville-based singer-songwriter named Elise Davis. While her songs were mostly on the dark side, she has a lovely voice and I enjoyed listening to her.
I suggest going to hear Ondara as soon as you can while he is still playing smaller venues (The Sinclair has a 525-person capacity; his previous show in Boston was at The Red Room which has a capacity of 200). His shows in Boston have sold out quickly.
Thanks to J.S. Ondara for the ticket; all opinions are my own.
Posted on November 3, 2019, in concert photos, concert reviews, music, Uncategorized and tagged boston, concert photos, concert review, Elise Davis, folk singer, J.S. Ondara, music, singer-songwriter, Tales of America, The Sinclair. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
Suze,,, It was a pleasure meeting you late Friday evening outside the Sinclair theatre, after our JSO concert…. What a performance, you covered my thoughts accurately. Thank you. Can’t wait for JSO to return…. I hope to celebrate more great concerts, while you are there to review!! God bless you and rock on sister!!
Thanks Lisa. It was a pleasure meeting you as well. I’m sure we will run into one another again… Rock on!