As hard as it is to break into the increasingly competitive local club circuit, it's arguably more difficult to hang in there, working the same ground, the same crowd, to questionable result. But there's always change, no matter the sense of stasis. And there's been nothing but change for singer/songwriter/guitarist J-Sun, both personally and on the music scene that the sensitive, blond singer with surfer-style looks has been working since he started making the rounds about five years ago.
Back then, J-Sun, now 29, was a frequent player at acoustic outlets like The Mill and Junk Yard, where then-solo musicians, such as Steve Burry (My Friend Steve), VonRa, Davey Rocker (David Schweizer) and Liz Larizza (Wellville), were cutting their teeth.
That's when J-Sun, born Jason Libs, learned to work a crowd as he developed his writing and guitar work. The son of a 1960s musician who traded music for a career in the family's candy business, J-Sun left his native Indiana, to much clicking of tongues, determined to make his way as a musician. His moniker, inspired by some of his flower-power followers, went well with his nostalgic, '60s-influenced style. J-Sun played barefoot his mellow folk creations, fortified by his melodic voice and positive energy.
Some of his musical mentors are easily recognizable in his songs, which range from traditional folk to poppy alternative, with pleasing whispers of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, John Lennon and Simon & Garfunkle in the arrangements and vocals.
About three years ago, when the local scene began to shift -- The Mill and Junk Yard closed down as House of Blues and Hard Rock came up -- J-Sun turned inward, contemplating his personal and professional direction. Hardly a hiatus, J-Sun channeled the questioning into "An Early Mid-Twenties Crisis," his full-length CD released earlier this year. Having taken him three years to complete, the project was both the ache and the cure.
Employing painstaking extremes, J-Sun wrote, performed and produced everything on the disc, even pasting together the CD packages. The harmonious result is a personal scrapbook, with 17 very diverse selections that sample his early folk songs, as well as his newer, more alternative pop rockers. It's in his newer sound, in songs such as "Pavlov's Limbo," that you hear J-Sun's potential, especially for an expanded band. "I'm ready to go beyond what I'm doing," he confirms, having moved beyond his crossroads. "It's overdue."
With a renewed sense of urgency and purpose, J-Sun plays Monday, Oct. 11, for "The Living Room Jam," a local acoustic night at House of Blues. "It's perfect outlet for J-Sun," says organizer Schweizer. "His voice sounds so great in that sound system -- that stage and that light could not lend itself better to another musician; he's just on fire."