This gig was advertised as having an eight 'o'clock start, but when we entered the small stage area upstairs at Rough Trade in Nottingham we found that Jon DeRosa was already in full flow and that he had come on stage about a quarter of an hour early. The reason became apparent during the set. He had to get a train back to London which was leaving at around nine that evening. After looking forward for a long time to his first gig in Nottingham, we found that rather disappointingly we had missed the first half of his set. Not to be deterred we joined the crowd who stood in awe of the man's talents. His baritone style is just phenomenal.

Jon DeRosa is a guitarist, composer and singer-songwriter who currently resides in Los Angeles, but who was raised in the small shore town of Manasquan, New Jersey where he grew up studying classical and flamenco guitar. He began writing and recording music in his early teens and by the time he turned eighteen had become part of dark folk/goth band Dead Leaves Rising, who eventually disbanded in 2002. In 1998, DeRosa lost nearly all hearing in his right ear, and the accompanying aural hallucinations inspired him to also start before Dead Leaves Rising broke up Aarktica, a mostly instrumental, guitar-based atmospheric project that still remains active to this day. As a result of his hearing loss, DeRosa began studying Indian classical vocal music with La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela and later, with Michael Harrison.

As well as continuing to perform and release music as Aarktica, and in addition to playing guitar with New York City chamber pop ensemble Flare. DeRosa also briefly recorded under the name Pale Horse and Rider, releasing two albums of urban country songs. After lending his voice to Stephin Merritt’s opera 'The Peach Blossom Fan' as the role of Hou Fang Yu, he unveiled his first eponymous release, the 'Anchored' EP, and then in 2012 his debut solo album, 'A Wolf in Preacher’s Clothes'. In 2013, DeRosa digitally released 'Signs of Life', like 'A Wolf in Preacher's Clothes', via Rocket Girl Records and toured Europe in support of punk/no-wave icon Lydia Lunch.

These days he is heavily bearded and tattooed. Dressed in an all white suit, he cut an almost godly figure. He looked comfortable too, just him and his guitar. There was no help tonight. He had wandered up from London alone to do an acoustic set for his growing Northern following and to promote his just released second solo album, 'Black Halo'. He mentioned two or three times that he had goods to sell, and that we must buy as he needed the train fare back to London again. He treated us to a handful of songs from the new album including mesmeric versions of the title track, 'Coyotes', Dancing in a dream and 'The Sun is Crying'.

After his set, I managed to take a few pictures in private and have a chat, and instead of the guy I thought he would be I found him to be exactly the opposite, a quiet, humble sort of chap that spoke of nothing but his music and his wife and family back home. I left having missed half of the set, but feeling like I had more than the rest to take away with me. I wish I could have had a bit more time to spend with Jon DeRosa. He is a special sort of fellow.


Photos by Dave Goodwin
www.davegoodwinimages.com












Related Links:

http://jonderosa.com/
https://twitter.com/aarktica
https://www.facebook.com/JonDeRosaSings


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