In an age where marketing rules the roost, JL Stiles remains a breath of fresh air. You may find Stiles alone in the wee hours plunking ragtime and Piedmont blues on his guitar like he was born a century ago or perhaps delivering the blues on his guitar and harmonica with much the same philosophy as Jimmy Reed. It is partly out of these foundations Stiles delivers a totally unique and raw sound tending toward the sweet and profound. A true maverick, Stiles neither throws away the past in the name of modern appeal nor does he eschew his cutting edge sensibility to satisfy revisionists. The result is a pure art that is both rare and priceless for his growing number of fans.
These days Stiles still plays stellar solo shows but often adds stand up bassist and singer/songwriter Robert McLean in the mix to provide beautiful harmonies and a melodic pulse. Adding Darius Minaee on drums creates a loose and grooving trio around the chunky Stiles finger plunked guitar. Owing little to the power trio format, often Stiles solos while amazingly holding the rhythm with his thumb. The Stiles harmonica improvisation, inseparable from his guitar, remains quintessential.
Listening to Stiles you might not think he sprang from the New England cold and muggy summers of Connecticut but a chance happening upon a dying and virtually unplayable guitar started him on his musical journey at age 17. After 5 years in New Orleans Stiles moved out to San Francisco where he has surfaced heavily in major venues in the area in addition to tours throughout the US and in Europe, Mexico, and South America. He recently released his third CD, "Land of the Plenty", which draws from the best of Stiles solo and with his band. Previous release "Solo Sessions"(Shoeless Records), featuring Stiles uncut and solo, garnered huge praise from reviewers and remains very popular amongst his fans. His first release, the also highly praised "Sanctuary"(Shoeless Records), holds a number of gems, the veracity of which shines through the raw production quality.