Jon Stickley Trio returning to Sisters


Last updated 7/4/2023 at 2:18pm

Photo by TomFarr Photography

The John Stickley Trio will play Big Ponderoo this weekend.

The Jon Stickley Trio is returning to Sisters for the Big Ponderoo music festival next weekend. The Trio taught at the Americana Song Academy for Youth before the Sisters Folk Festival in 2017. They were slotted to play at the Sisters Folk Festival before it was canceled due to wildfire that year, and returned to play in 2018.

Jon Stickley has been interested in music from a young age.

"When I met one of my best friends in high school, he was a banjo player, and that's when I got hooked in wanting to learn guitar and got interested in bluegrass," said Stickley.

Stickley first joined a bluegrass band in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, when he was in college in 2000. The band played bars and small venues around North Carolina.

"Seeing the community around the bluegrass band thing and the jams that happen at festivals really spoke to me," said Stickley. "The virtuosity of the musicians and the high level of musicianship and the collaboration between musicians was another big part of it for me."

The trio developed naturally for Stickley based on where he was in his career, being in between bands circa 2010. He had been playing upright bass with Town Mountain band but wanted to return to playing guitar. Over the years, Stickley booked gigs under his name around town and had various iterations of a bluegrass band playing with him, including a four-piece band, a duo, and then he moved into a trio.

Around 2011, The Jon Stickley Trio was born when Stickley realized the trio layout was what fit best for the sound he wanted.

The trio includes a violinist, one of Stickley's closest friends, Lyndsay Pruett. Pruett has been in the trio since the beginning, and is still playing fiddle and arranging pieces.

"She's a huge part of how the trio sounds," Stickley said.

With Stickley on guitar, the third trio member is a drummer. They've gone through several members, eventually finding their current drummer, Hunter Deacon.

"He's been instrumental in really changing our sound recently, mixing that jazz and bluegrass sound," said Stickley.

Most of the songs are written by Stickley and then arranged by the trio.

"As Hunter's been with us longer, I've been dictating less and less with how the song grooves and the rhythm we play to. I just let the other two do their thing because they're so good at it," he said.

Playing in a trio for Stickley is something that "never gets old." Because each member is such a valuable piece of the sound, they are always all doing something on stage.

"We are never bored on stage. The musicality to just do one song, it's always a challenge, takes us to a different place, and it's an hour of meditative musical exploration with a structure to it," said Stickley.

Now out of the pandemic, the trio is mainly touring on long weekends, as Stickley recently had his second child. The trio hits different regions every weekend, with Sisters being on the Pacific Northwest trip, one of their more extensive trips for the year.

Stickely has an important local connection. In 2019, Jon Stickley got his first Sisters-made Preston Thompson guitar, and has been a Preston Thompson artist since then. He fell in love with the guitar, especially for playing bluegrass.

"I'm always looking forward to getting back into the shop and hanging out and picking a bit when I am there," said Stickley.

The shop is almost finished with his second guitar, and Stickley is hopeful he will get to play it on his trip to Sisters for Big Ponderoo.

One of the trio's new songs on Meantime's Up is "Preston's Tune," a tribute to the Sisters guitar builder who died in 2019.

"It's just a fun flat-picking piece that I wrote to honor him and the guitar," said Stickley.

The Jon Stickley Trio will kick off Big Ponderoo at The Barn with a free workshop at noon on Saturday. They will be doing some trio songs and talking about their pedals and sound and taking questions about playing guitar.

The trio will be playing at the Three Creeks Brewing production facility venue on Saturday, June 24 and at the Sisters Artworks venue on Sunday, June 25.

To learn more about Big Ponderoo and get your tickets before this weekend, visit:


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