Jonny Kaplan

California, US
Artist / Band / Musician
Alternative / Rock / Country
Ripe Records, US/ Bittersweet Recordings, Europe
Jonny Kaplan was born in Philadelphia. Like most of the working class kids in his neighborhood, he listened religiously to FM rock radio. He attended his first Stones concert at the age of 13 and immediately got a guitar he labeled “a barely playable piece of junk.” The influences of Keith Richards, Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan and The Byrds sparked his passion for the country rock sound, which ultimately became the foundation for Jonny’s musical journey. By16 he had become serious about making himself learn the instrument, and 2 years later he was good enough to start playing in clubs.

The year he turned 19 Jonny moved to New York and hit the streets looking for a gig. He jammed with a couple of rock bands and no doubt could have found more gigs, but the vagabond in his soul was calling and he ended up drifting west. Two years later he found himself on the pacific coast and decided Los Angeles was a good place for a guitar player to camp for a while. He put a cool band together but finally got fed up with trying to find a singer to accompany him and decided to try his hand at vocalizing. Luckily for him, the band he was jamming with allowed him the time to…as he laughingly puts it “sound horrible for a while!” In no time he was immersed in songwriting. The seminal,”before their time” band was called Hummingbird.

Jonny worked hard over the next 7 years to establish himself and the band, only to have the band to dissolve after all the hard work. In 1997, following the death of Blind Melon singer Shannon Hoon, producer Christopher Thorn asked him to fly to Seattle and possibly fill the void left by Shannon. But Christopher had other ideas in the way of a gift, and when Jonny arrived in the Pacific Northwest he found himself being escorted to the studio to record his first album, California Heart. The players included members of The Wallflowers, Lone Justice, The Posies and Jay Dee Maness (The Byrds). To Jonny’s great surprise his 60’s-70’s country/rock feel was in demand within the industry, as well as among fans.

California Heart was voted “Americana Album Of The Month” by England’s Mojo Magazine, and Jonny was on his way…he thought. His American label went belly up within months of the album’s completion. However, the album’s European release received glowing reviews and Jonny put his new band together…The Lazy Stars.

Jonny’s next album “Ride Free”, (2005) started off as a collection of recorded demos. The tracks were co-produced by Jonny and Dusty Wakeman and featured Doug Pettibone ( Lucinda Williams Band), Rami Jaffee (The Walllowers), Skip Edwards (The Flying Burrito Brothers), and The Lazy Stars. The album had less country feel in the way of pedal steel, and louder guitars with a true rock sound. Released in Europe, it was marketed as "rock" instead of "alternative country" and Jonny’s appeal grew much larger. Ride Free enjoyed big-time receptions and every tour stop was packed with young rock fans clamoring to hear the “new” band. The songs Ride Free, Hidden Treasure and Stick Around have all become mainstays on European alternative rock radio.

Jonny and his band of Lazy Stars have been enjoying life and touring Europe ever since. Selling out club shows and sharing the bills at Festivals with bands like The Black Crowes, Ryan Adams, Wilco, and many more. While back at home Jonny and the band record and tour constantly, determined to break into the U.S. market.

Jonny’s songwriting has gained him the respect of all his peers, and his songs are regularly being placed in films or network TV shows. But as far as “American success” he’s still soaring just under the radar. As Jonny puts it,” My career has been a slow, steady climb upwards. There are new fans at every show and I’ll be playing for them until I’m an old man…like all of my heroes.”

It would be two years before Jonny released his third album, “Seasons” in 2008. He attributes the extended period between discs to things like a full touring schedule and a lot of "false starts" with record executives that weren’t sure Jonny had a career. He finally decided to do the record on his own and not wait for anyone to define his direction. “I am making my career.every day” he says, and making it rather well indeed. Seasons was produced by Jonny and recorded in Los Angeles and Nashville with members of The Foo Fighters, Mike Ness Band, Buck Cherry, and The Lazy Stars.

Critics and music buffs call Seasons a cross between Jonny’s first two albums, a bit of roots and rock with a noticeable maturity in the songwriting department. There are surely a lot of the early 70’s influences from the Stones, Dylan, Neil Young and The Byrds.

But Tracks like “Still Lonely” and “Meet Together In The Morning” are all Jonny and have lyrics with a ring of “classic” and “timeless” written all over them.

In Jonny’s words, “This record celebrates the highs and lows, joy and sorrow, camaraderie and loneliness that are all a part of life on the road.” Spoken like a true vagabond.

The Lazy Stars Are:

Dan Wistrom , guitar , vocals

Jokin Salaverria , bass vocals

Brian Young , drums

Rami Jaffee, keyboards

Chris Lawrence , pedal steel guitar
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