Who Is Jon?

In a nutshell, I am a musical underdog. There are no major label advances, marketing or publicity teams here. No limousines or red carpet events…. I am a husband and father who was a contract furniture salesman and real estate investor by day and a musician by night. After about 10 years of feeling as if I was being torn in two by the completely contradictory roles that I played, it hit me. What if I didn’t HAVE to wake up dreading every morning? What if I trusted in the infinite power of the universe to guide me along the path that it was calling me to take? What if…? I kept seeing an inspirational message in my mind that used to scroll across a co-worker’s screen saver…as if speaking directly to me. “Take the leap. The net will appear.” What a simplistic, yet completely powerful sentiment. This was not a question, but a group of two statements. Not, “Maybe you should take the leap” or “Wouldn’t it be cool if the net appeared?” No. “Take the leap. The net will appear.” Do what it is that you fear. You will be taken care of.

Well, in January of 2010, I took the leap! You may notice that the phrase, “it will be easy” was not included in the inspirational screen saver. That’s because, most of the time, the best and most worthwhile things in life are not easy. My path has not been easy. But, it has been extremely liberating and rewarding and it does tend to get easier with each passing year!

My “leap” involved allowing myself to believe that I could support a family as a musician in his 30’s in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have to admit that it sounded absolutely insane. I had played in bands for 12 years and made some money, but not what I would call a living wage. The money came on weekends, but what about weeknights? I knew that I would have to step into a lead role and play solo acoustic shows and lead my own band if this was ever going to work. This was definitely outside of my comfort zone. I enjoyed being the #2 guy. Let someone else have the spotlight while I play the supportive role. I was a rhythm guitar player and background vocalist and I wrote songs for others to sing. This didn’t fit the new plan. I needed to sing and play solo acoustic shows so that I could play more frequently and play on weeknights (clubs can afford solo acts on weeknights, but there is generally not enough money for bands). I would need a small, yet efficient band that could play at a competitive price, so that I could take on a LOT of gig opportunities. I started a 3-piece band, worked with a booking agent, booked shows on my own and we played damn near every bar in Fort Wayne and within an hour radius. I played solo acoustic shows, hosted open mic nights and songwriter nights. I studied other local musicians who were doing what I wanted to do. We moved out of our beautiful house and into a much smaller rental. I took a part-time job or two, as needed. I did everything that I could to make the dream work. And it did!

After 8 years of trial and error (and lots of successes), I am starting to figure some things out. I am focusing on better-paying opportunities such as weddings and private parties (I still play a lot of club gigs, too). I am also focusing on my original music, which is the whole reason that I wanted to be a musician in the first place.

My original music is the reason why I have built this site and have mounted a significant social media presence. I love to play cover songs, but I want to be known for my own music! From 2014- 2016, I financed and recorded my first solo release, “Chaos and Clarity.” If you believe in supporting the underdog and if you enjoy quality music that is a bit off the beaten path, I think that you’ll appreciate me and what I do. My songs are all written by me and the stories are lived by me. These are not songs about big butts or being in “da club.” Rather, they are glimpses at different aspects of life. These are songs that you can relate to. If you choose to support me by purchasing my album, I want you to know that you are enabling a dream and feeding a family. You are not paying for my 5th house, my limo driver, my A&R guy’s expense account or my $1 million-dollar music video. You are simply helping to stitch together the “net” for someone who has chosen to take “the leap.” For that I am eternally grateful!


  • Missy Czaja says:

    I love this so much! Beautifully written! So glad I know you and grateful I got the opportunity to play in a band with you for so many years. Good luck on this album and I can’t wait to hear it! Love to all of your family!

    • Jon Durnell says:

      Thanks, Missy! That’s very nice. It’s been an honor and a privilege to get to know you and to play with you all those years too! I really hope that you like the album and thanks for the support!

  • Gordon Bainbridge says:

    Very nice statement. I hope you’re able to survive as a musician in Fort Wayne. How are you related to Les Durnell? He’s an old friend and classmate of mine, and he sent me a link to your site. I live in Washington on a island north of Seattle and come back to FW only for high school reunions.

    • Jon Durnell says:

      Hi Gordon,

      Les is my father! I am actually playing and DJ’ing a little bit at the reunion this September! Maybe we’ll see you there! Thanks for the words of support. Doing music for a living is difficult, but very rewarding and I wouldn’t have it any other way.



  • Jim Mohr says:

    Proud of you brother – you did what we all dreamed of doing before life happens. You are a master of your art and deserve all the success in the world.

  • Shelly Dixon says:

    Jon, your story is one that really resonates with me. This is beautifully written, inspiring and a brilliant bio. I, too, took a leap of faith and left a job of 10 years that I grew to hate. I thank the Universe, that I’ve made a living with music for 3 years now. So far so good. I also have benefitted from simplifying my life to make ends meet. I drive an older car so I don’t have a car payment, live in a small apartment I can afford, I cook at home and rarely eat out, I don’t have cable, I don’t get my nails done, I do my own hair, I do not have any credit card debts…the list goes on. It’s like I got out of my own way. I’m so grateful to be doing what I love and the experiencing the feeling of freedom. I may not have a 401K, but I’m happy. Life is short and nothing is guaranteed.Thanks so much for sharing this story! I wish you continued success with your music! I

    • Jon Durnell says:

      Thanks so much for the kind words, Shelly. Yes, sacrifice and simplicity are a couple of the ingredients for success as well. I wish you all the best in your musical pursuits!

  • Jon Dize says:

    Fantastic post, Jon. Were you this cool in grade school? Where can we purchase your music? I’m assuming iTunes is not on the list… see you at Teds sometime!

    • Jon Durnell says:

      Thanks, Jon! No, I was not this “cool” in grade school. Haha! Thanks for the compliments and encouragement! You can purchase my music right here on my site at the “Chaos and Clarity” button on the bottom of the page. You can also purchase it at a show. Thanks again for your support!

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