The Mountains and the Trees pursues solo dream

Don’t let the name fool you. Though the band name The Mountains and The Trees might tend to conjure images of grand scenery, the simple, acoustic music created by Newfoundlander Jon Janes does indeed fit well with the nature-inspired moniker. And even though he has a band name starting to pop-up on marquees all over the world, The Mountains and The Trees is all Janes and he alone. He did give the band route a legitimate try in years past but ultimately found writing and performing solo to be the most fulfilling.

“I was a drummer for 10-15 years before I started performing as The Mountains and The Trees,” Janes starts. “I played drums for everything from cover bands to punk bands and eventually grew tired of waiting to play drums for others.”

As the result of said boredom, Janes began exploring other musical instruments including the guitar. The newfound exploration would ignite Janes’ songwriting abilities, taking him from having his various bands perform his songs to him playing them for himself.

He then progressed from performing his material at local open mic nights to hosting open mic nights to playing his own shows.

He tries not to remember his earliest shows.

“When I started playing guitar and performing live, I was terrible,” he laughs. “I’m sure there are many people that saw me in 2005 and 2006 that could attest to that fact.”

Janes’ persistence paid off however, allowing him to experience the good fortune of seeing his musical aspirations set to “fast-forward” over the past two years, going from releasing an independent EP to sharing stages with acts like Wilco, Billy Bragg and Iron & Wine.

“In June 2009, I had received an invite to perform at the North By Northeast Festival in Toronto,” Jon says. “A couple of months after that, I was invited back to Toronto to showcase at the Toronto International Film Festival and while there, I had the fortune of meeting someone who recommended that I do a UK tour which I ended up doing in May of 2010.”

Following that whirlwind of activity, Janes made his second North By Northeast Festival appearance and followed that up with a Canadian tour with acclaimed group The Wilderness of Manitoba. In August 2010, Janes released his debut full-length CD, I Made This For You, before returning to Europe for another month of shows this past September.

Once his current run of shows in the Maritimes wraps up, including a stop tonight at the Royal Canadian Legion in Sackville, Janes is set to cross Canada again before another run of European dates.

Given his obviously packed schedule, one has to wonder how much Janes really gets to see of his home.

“I really don’t have a home right now,” he says. “It would be nice to have a place to call home though. I have my parents’ place in Newfoundland where my stuff is stored but I’m on the road all the time it seems and rarely there.”

Janes acknowledges that his frequent traveling and lack of a place to lay his head isn’t the worst thing in the world at the moment, especially considering the experiences he is picking up as collateral.

“Sometimes you’re only given one chance in life to be a musician. It could all end tomorrow and not a day goes by that I don’t think about how fortunate I am. The only time I really question my decision to pursue music is when I drink,” he laughs.

Article published in February 4, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript