For decades Don Stiernberg has been known around Chicago as a busy and versatile musician, turning up on recording sessions and at performances of all kinds to play mandolin, guitar, other string instruments, and sing. Recently he has established a focus on playing jazz on the mandolin.
His 1999 release "About Time" on Blue Night Records garnered exposure on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Since then he has appeared at festivals and clubs around the country and recorded four more titles for Blue Night Records: "Unseasonably Cool"(2001), and, with guitarist John Carlini, "Angel Eyes"(2004)and the all-Gershwin collection "By George"(2005). "Home Cookin'"(2007) makes jazz vehicles out of tunes by Bob Wills, Wes Montgomery, Jethro Burns, James Taylor, and Stevie Wonder. Don's mandolin can also be heard on dozens of recordings by other artists in genres ranging from bluegrass to pop and children's music.
In addition to being a faculty member at The Mandolin Symposium and a member of the mandolin team at Steve Kaufman's Acoustic Kamp, Don has given workshops at festivals such as Ashokan Western and Swing Week, The Winnipeg Folkfest, Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas, The IBMA World of Bluegrass in Louisville, KY, and the Musikhochschule in Wuppertal, Germany. He has written the jazz column for Mandolin Magazine since it began publication.
While still a teenager, Don found his direction in life when he met Jethro Burns for mandolin lessons. Later, as a member of The Jethro Burns Quartet, he was able to share the stage with such luminaries as Chet Atkins, Steve Goodman, and The Newgrass Revival. Don co-produced and played rhythm guitar on Jethro's final recordings, "Swing Low, Sweet Mandolin"(1995) and "Bye Bye Blues"(1997) for the Acoustic Disc label.
These days Don fronts his own jazz quartet. When not appearing in concert, he'll most likely be found around Chicago, either in a recording studio or in a tuxedo on a bandstand.