“[Jonathan] makes sensitive, gossamer-delicate guitar instrumentals that invoke a more introspective, self-exploratory side of the human psyche,” says Listen.com about Jonathan Nicholson's music.
Jonathan is a self-taught fingerstyle guitarist currently living in Spokane, WA, who has been making quite a stir in the last few years locally and abroad with his unique blend of soothing, yet intricate guitar work, and his emotionally captivating songwriting. “He manages to craft lovely tunes that reward a thoughtful and careful listener with lots of cool stuff to meditate upon.” (The Easterner)
Jonathan began playing guitar at 15 (much later than the typical guitarist), and it immediately became the vehicle for his passionate nature. “I remember playing until my fingers bled, and then taping my hands up, and playing for another few hours or so,” recalls Jonathan. “I just couldn't stop playing. I felt this huge sense of loss when I would put down the guitar, like I had just lost my best friend. I couldn't stay away. Actually, I still can't.”
Within a year or so, he joined a local alternative band called the Righteous Corn Farmers (or RCF for short), which survived many lineup changes survived for several years, and before finally breaking up recorded a CD entitled “Shush”. From there Jonathan worked with several vocalists, and then in 1998 became one-half of the experimental atmospheric duo Fall Walks. This comprised of very airy and haunting guitar work by Jonathan and very moving and beautiful percussion by longtime friend Sam Smith. They recorded a five song self-titled CD in 1999, and disbanded about 6 months later.
Since he first started playing, Jonathan was immediately drawn to writing riveting instrumental pieces, but it wasn't until the fall of 1999 that he decided to take the plunge (after years of pestering by friends and family) and become a solo act. He recorded a demo in his apartment and adopted a name that reflected his love of mythology and unique spirit: Calliope's Burden. The name was inspired by one of his favorite Greek myths, that of the muse Calliope watching her human son Orpheus (also a talented musician) helplessly as he lived his life.
So he started dropping off a tape locally simply entitled “Calliope's Burden”, and noticed something quickly happening: He was getting calls back asking if he had a CD for sale, and where it could be bought. Oh yeah, and did he want to perform at these venues.
In the years since he began performing live, he has released 4 CDs, has written and recorded the music for Floetry: Visions Of Nature, a Relaxation DVD that is an amazing combination of music and video, has had numerous interviews and performances on local radio and television, and has performed at various cafes, restaurants, festivals, and concert halls throughout the Inland Northwest.
In the spring of 2002 he decided to stop using his stage name, and start performing simply as Jonathan Nicholson. “The name (Calliope's Burden) was confusing for a lot of people, and I also started to feel that I was hiding behind it”, says Jonathan. “It was an amazing experience when I decided to abandon the stage name, it was very frightening yet liberating, like I was saying that I wasn't afraid anymore to just be me.”
"Although the saying is overused, I feel his music is very moving and full of spirit. ” ( Mark Peterson, Good Morning Northwest KXLY NEWS 4) It is this spirit in his music that has made fans of all ages, and it is not uncommon for a 5 year old to be dancing while an elderly couple is relaxing and enjoying the music with their eyes closed, while a 16 year old next to them is watching attentively as Jonathan performs.
Jonathan's music touches people on a very personal level, and can be used for relaxation, reflection, or just pure enjoyment. One fan wrote, “Jonathan creates a safe and beautiful space for the listener with his music that you never want to leave.”
And as another fan put simply:
“Listen, and Enjoy.”