New Single “Endless Highway,” Out Last Week, Added to Spotify’s Official “Got Blues” and “Blues Stompers” Playlists, Helping Tolchin Earn Enough from Streaming for Him to Stay Home from the Road

Jonah Tolchin – the Americana artist who has 93,000 monthly listeners on Spotify – found himself writing in a more blues-based vein when several things happened in his life. The results appear on his stunning new Luther Dickinson-co-produced album Dockside, recorded at the legendary studio of the same name in Louisiana:

1. Jonah got re-married and became a parent. As a step-father, suddenly any sense of artistic limitation seemed not only trivial but also hypocritical as he encouraged his daughter to follow her heart; his heart led him back to the blues.

2. He felt that he’d had enough life experience (ups and downs in the music business, life on the road, a psychotic episode, ADHD, a divorce and then a re-marriage, writing a book on spiritual approaches to guitar) to write a good blues song. Through his trials, from his Jewish upbringing to recent Buddhist revelations, he had grown spiritually.

3. Peter Green, one of Jonah’s chief inspirations and a Jewish guitar player, died on July 25, 2020.

New single “Endless Highway” came out last week while Dockside releases October 20. Next single “Blues With a Feeling” (originally made famous by Little Walter) comes out September 22. Hear/share “Endless Highway”.

Raised by Jewish parents, Jonah’s 23andMe test revealed him to be 99.3% Ashkenazi Jewish. Inspired by the legacies of Green and Mike Bloomfield, both Jews, Tolchin felt that there was a way to respect the blues and find his own way within the genre. Though he refused to go to synagogue in his youth, he felt a connection to Judaism via Green and Bloomfield. He was bullied because of his faith, finding refuge in his guitar and in the playing of his Jewish guitar heroes.

Jonah’s spiritual journey started with Judaism and has led him to Buddhism, especially after a retreat at Blue Cliff Monastery in upstate NY in 2015.

Soon, he realized that he had a newfound perspective on the painful well of experiences he had been through that could lend itself to blues. Take “Suffering Well,” which features co-producer Luther Dickinson on guitar; the song takes a Buddhist angle that suffering is inevitable but there’s a way for one to take sorrow and turn it into compassion. On “Nothing Gonna Take My Blues Away,” Tolchin writes as someone who does not want his blues taken away; without the pain, one can’t have growth of self. These ideas came from the writings of Thích Nhất Hạnh, which translates to No Mud, No Lotus [Flower]. It’s a book he took into a prison group with his mother, a storyteller who was leading a workshop. (Thích Nhất Hạnh passed away in January, 2022.)

Dockside is the first release on the label Jonah has started Clover Music Group, the formation of which helps him to stay spiritually grounded (and to which he’s already signed a second artist with plans to grow a full roster).

In a recent Instagram post, Tolchin celebrated his placement on two official Spotify playlists—Got Blues and Blues Stompers—by saying, “The music industry is tough, and getting harder all the time with the shear mass of releases. Most artists need to tour in order to have a career, or make any kind of substantial income. One of my goals of starting this label was to be able to create a respectable income and following from streaming alone. It’s not an easy feat, but I know people who are currently doing it—so I know that it’s possible.

Even though streaming royalties have a long way to go, I just want to express my gratitude to @spotify for supporting my music over the last decade. With this kind of continued playlist support, I may be able to achieve my dream of focusing on being a writer and recording artist.

Because of my ADHD and various other mental health issues, I’ve learned that I need to be grounded and have a daily routine. It’s tough to do that on the road, and most importantly I want to be home with my family and watch my daughter grow up. Those are the things that matter most to me.”

NPR Music’s Ann Powers has praised Tolchin’s “[guitar] leads Duane Allman would have respected.