Raised in central New Jersey, Jonah Tolchin was introduced to blues music in his early teens. After a rebellious few years in which he dropped out of high school and ran afoul of the law, he found himself searching for an outlet for all his pent-up energy. Years earlier, his father had spent some time living in Mississippi, where he ran a record store, so music was always in the Tolchin household, though it wasn't until Jonah was 14 that his father turned him on to the blues. He immediately connected with the style and its passion, and spent the next several years immersing himself first in the blues, then in the many different branches of roots music from bluegrass to old-timey jug band. He and some like-minded friends formed a blues band in high school and, shortly after graduating in 2011, Tolchin launched a solo career with the release of his self-recorded debut EP, Eldawise.
Seeking to open his senses and expand his artistic vocabulary, Tolchin spent much of the following year traveling around the U.S., gaining new experience, gigging, and writing the material that would form his 2012 LP, Criminal Man. His rustic Americana and sharp songwriting began to make waves in the folk and indie communities and he was invited to play at the legendary Newport Folk Festival. As his career continued to gather momentum, he toured frequently and eventually landed a deal with Yep Roc Records. Pairing the young artist with producer Marvin Etzioni, a veteran session band was assembled (including members of Los Lobos and Deer Tick) to make his Yep Roc debut, Clover Lane, which appeared in summer 2014. For his follow-up, Tolchin reunited with Etzioni, booking sessions at Muscle Shoals' legendary FAME Studios, where they worked with engineer John Gifford III to record 2016's Thousand Mile Night. Producer Sheldon Gomberg was at the controls for Tolchin's next offering. 2019's Fires for the Cold was a moody and contemplative set that included guest vocals from Jackson Browne and Rickie Lee Jones; the album included a cover of Little Feat's "Roll Um Easy," with LF veteran Fred Tackett on guitar. ~ Timothy Monger, Rovi