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Jon Lampley: Get In Where You Fit In


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Jon Lampley knows how to "get in where you fit in." He's been doing it since he was a boy in an Ohio suburb, spending his week as "the only black kid at school" and his Sundays at Apostolic church in Akron, learning to play gospel music and call the spirit down.

He also learned early on that commitment is crucial to what he does, commitment not only to the music he plays but also to the people he plays with, and to the audience too. You get the sense watching Jon that if he doesn't feel it, he probably won't do it.

Maybe that's why he's so in demand in so many projects right now. He's a member of Jon Batiste and (catch him regularly on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert), Huntertones (a band he joined in college at Ohio State and that led him to New York), Cory and the Wongnotes, and works often with O.A.R. and Lawrence, and has played with Sammy Miller and the Congregation and Red Baraat among others.

Jon says, "I've just prioritized the people. I've identified the people that I want to associate with and what I need to do, how I need to better myself as a musician and as a human to get into that circle."

Huntertones new record Time to Play, produced by Louis Cato and featuring guest collaborations with Cory Wong, Lionel Loueke and Cato, comes out this month. Jon and I spoke recently about growing up in two worlds, learning to play "unnecessarily soulful melodies" and call on the deep well of musical emotion that he learned in church, what he looks for in a collaborator and why he thinks he gets called so much, how he practices and prepares, and what he means when he says "music is the vehicle."

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