Jon Drake’s acoustically infused pop music is typically layered with extensive instrumentation from an eight-piece band under the moniker Jon Drake & The Shakes. The group has been getting significant attention as of late, particularly in their homebase of Chicago, due to the grandeur of their live performances and the approachable yet creative style attractive to the radio-friendly inclined fans of folk, pop, and alternative country. 

But Jon’s session with us here at Epitonic, he stopped by solo. Setting up he was mildly disarmed without the support of strings, horns and more from his usual fleet of contributors. He would later explain how having a band of that size is understandingly unwieldy, and he decided to do the session on his own. 

A solo performance live or recorded is revealing. It often shows how a song was initially composed, perhaps on a sofa in a living room in the songwriters apartment, and strips the track down to its blueprint. Not everyone can pull off a performance like this, but Jon Drake certainly can. It was refreshing to hear such an honest and direct interpretation of these songs which are otherwise produced to the max on 2012’s Grape Juice Records release Dear Ulysses. It revealed the core of the songs, and also the heart of Jon’s talent and passion for crafting songs.