Orphan Jon is an American Roots and Blues artist originally from Bakersfield, California. OJATA; often referred to by fans of Orphan Jon while touring with his band The Abandoned, was formed in 2015 by vocalist and songwriter Jon English. In the Fall of 2017, he was signed to SoCal’s highly respected and well-established Blues label Rip Cat Records. Releasing two works with Rip Cat Records; his debut album “Abandoned No More’ released in the Spring of 2018 immediately garnered high praise throughout the Blues industry and attained award nominations as well. The follow up to his debut album on Rip Cat was “Reckless Abandon” a live recorded show that took place at his favorite spot in his hometown of Bakersfield, California; O’Hennings. “Reckless Abandon” LIVE was released in the Spring of 2020.
After Rip Cat Records decided to close up shop in late 2020, Jon; along with his wife Stella, created their own music label Vintage LaNell Records. In January of 2021 Orphan Jon; along with his band The Abandoned went back into the studio in his hometown of Bakersfield, Ca. to produce his second studio album, and first on the new label. “Over The Pain” was recorded at the legendary AUM Studio Productions and was produced and co-written by his close friend Whiskey Bayou Records; Tab Benoit owned label, recording artist Alastair Greene. Released in the Summer of 2022 the album has been receiving many accolades and airplay throughout the world. Its opening track “Tight Dress” stayed on the European all genres Hit Tracks Top 100 for 22 weeks, topping out at #13, and “Livin’ My Life” off the album is currently charting as well. One of the highlights for the album was being featured on Little Steven’s Underground Garage on SXM radio Rock Station 21. The album finished out the year strong, having made several “Best of” lists by reviewers for 2022.
Another milestone for Orphan Jon happened in February of 2022 when he was signed to the highly respected management firm The Galaxie Agency out of Nashville, Tennessee. Of late he’s been writing new material and will be producing another live album that will be released in 2024.
Since forming, OJATA has steadily grown in popularity due in part to its high energy and musical passion they display while performing. They’re a grassroots band that loves the connection they have with audiences in whatever setting. Roots and Blues is their life blood, and it shows in their ever popular eclectic originals; and the few selective interpreted covers, they bring to every show. It is the bands goal to captivate the audience from the first note struck until the last chord is played while entertaining them both musically and visually.
Orphan Jon simply put, is a very unique artist; and along with his touring band The Abandoned, has an energy and style that not only captures the traditional fans of the blues, but also has them steadily gaining a younger audience as well.
One SoCal writer said, “when you see and hear OJATA you’re taken on a journey through the ups and downs, the twists and turns, peaks and valleys of the vibrancy of love and everyday living through their music. They are a rare breed full of spirit and charisma, and they put on a show that is both energetic and captivating with a tight sound like no other.”
“Orphan” Jon English’s vocals are a moving musical tapestry; they’re emotional, heartfelt, intense and at times very soulful and yearning, he has no inhibitions when it comes to leaving his heart and soul fully exposed to the listeners. That’s just how he is. Full disclosure on life. His life; in song. A life that everyone in some form or fashion can connect and relate to.
Along with Orphan Jon’s vocals is his special guest lead guitarist; at times a co-writer, but always a journeyman, and an artist that will showcase a flowing, rhythmic, harmonious blend of string manipulations as that invites your soul on a cosmic colorful expedition to places you might’ve never been before. Then there’s his stellar rhythm section that has a steady uplifting, driving, subtle and powerful bassist that takes your heartbeat on a vast rousing journey, accompanied with the energetic, captivating, influential dynamics of the drummer, and you have The Abandoned.
Orphan Jon, and The Abandoned, is a band that totally captures the essence of what American Music is all about; hard work, rough life, grinding days, moving souls, touching hearts and heartfelt love, day to day, and all the time.
Singer/Songwriter Jon English aka “Orphan Jon” resides in Wichita, Kansas. He is the face, vibe, heart and soul of OJATA. He’s a passionate soul, and it shows in his performances and by his songwriting. Singing is his true love. Although he doesn’t have the vast years of experience in any particular music genre as most of today’s popular music artists, it most certainly can be said that he has lived a life in a way most haven’t.
Born in a county hospital in Bakersfield, Ca. in the summer of 65, he was abandoned along with his three older brothers before the age of one. Placed in an orphanage by the state and bounced in and out of several homes before finally being adopted at the age of 10, he learned at an early age what being alone, forsaken, abused, and dealing with the troubles of life truly feels like.
Things never did get better for him even after he was adopted. His adopted father was rarely around, and his adopted mother was very abusive during the 5 years she was in his life, both physically and emotionally. And though she treated him in such a manner; she still had a huge positive influence on his musical life. Because of her love for music she would encourage him to sing and perform the songs of the artists she liked. This is something he would do often.
For it was during these moments; that he discovered, there would be some normalcy and relief from the abuse he suffered almost daily. And it was during these times she showed him a little love, compassion and motherly affection. She introduced him to the poetic harmonies of The Everly Brothers and The Temptations, the cool surfer music of the Beach Boys, the soulful melodies of Motown’s Marvin Gaye and Mr. Dynamite himself, The Godfather of Soul, Mr. James Brown.
During his late teen years, he decided to not let the anguishes of his childhood be a negative in his life anymore. Instead, he took the past wrongs and began to make them into future rights. Nevermore allowing the bad to influence him, he turned his life around and later in his mid 40’s discovered how he can tell his story in music and create in song what was hidden away from all to see and hear for many years, until now.
His music is his self-expression of life, his life; and though personal, it’s very relatable to others. For who hasn’t been alone, felt forsaken, sometimes abused, and dealt with the troubles of life? Or been in love, had joys, feel free and uplifted from the cares and burdens of living?
He has said, “I was a motherless child that eventually found his mother. A mother for my early abused life, a mother for the hardships that abandonment brought, a mother that gave to me her unwavering love. This mother will never leave or forsake me; she will always be there for me, even when I hadn’t met her yet, she was there, she was always there, she is the world of music”.
Those Of The Abandoned
In respect to those that are currently or have formerly toured; as well as recorded, with Orphan Jon in The Abandoned we share with you the following amazing artists. Each one is an important part of the musical journey taken by OJATA. Of course not every artist is listed below, but we wanted to share with you the one’s that had the biggest impact on Orphan Jon’s recording career to date.
Bruce Krupnik-Guitarist / Songwriter 2015-2018
Bruce was the writing force with Jon in the infancy of OJATA. His input and musically creative mind immediately locked in with Jon’s equal abilities in writing lyrics. From the very first day they teamed up together on a Saturday afternoon on Jan. 31st in 2015 there was an instant chemistry that produced such popular songs as “Leave My Blues Alone”, “Blood Moon”, “Backbone”, “Dance For Me Girl”, “Sowin’ Seeds” and “Cold Man Blues”.
Bruce was also a prolific songwriter in his own right, as well as being an amazing guitarist. Having his foundation in the blues created the perfect “marriage” between him and front man Jon English in their songwriting team for OJATA. His knack for hearing Jon’s lyrics and then creating the right tone and music that fits was truly an enjoyment to behold, and his abilities in arranging was impeccable. It was easy to see and understand why Jon and Bruce are the foundation on which OJATA had been built. Having had Orphan Jon as his partner to create, was a work worth seeing and hearing.
And even though Bruce is no longer touring with OJATA, his influence still rings strong to this very day. He has to date co-wrote all the tracks for Orphan Jon’s multi-nominated debut album “Abandoned No More featuring Bruce Krupnik”, as well as later for the recording of “Reckless Abandon LIVE”; both released on Rip Cat Records. And even though Bruce had to leave the The Abandoned in late 2018 due to personal health issues, the writing tandem of English / Krupnik will provide many more opportunities for Orphan Jon to go into the studio in the future and share with the world what these two created on many sunny Saturday afternoons in the beautiful coastal city of Arroyo Grande, Ca.
Bruce currently resides on the Central Coast of California. He was strongly influenced by Blues and American Roots music. And along with bassist, Wil Anderson, had previously received world wide airplay with “The Strata-tones”.
Jon has said “Bruce will always be seen as the life blood and spark that kick started my musical career. He was an amazing artist and mentor for me. We wrote together like it was always meant to be. It was so natural and easy for us two. It was an instant connection. I learned much from him. His confidence in, and support of me, created in me the belief I could do this thing called songwriting. I’m forever grateful to have had him in my early musical life as I did. I’ll never cease to show my gratitude for him. He’s a very gracious, kind and gifted soul. He was there, at the right time. For without Bruce, there never would have been OJATA.”
Brett Cox-Guitarist 2018-2020
Guitarist Brett Cox who took over the lead guitar duty’s for two years after the departure of Bruce Krupnik resides in the San Joaquin Valley city of Bakersfield, Ca. He is strongly influenced by a vast plethora of Blues styles and American Roots music. Having been an astute student of one of Bakersfield’s legendary Blues guitarists Bunky Spurling, he has honed his skills from the age of 13 and over the years has won great respect from many well known Blues guitarists such as Gary Hoey, Albert Castiglia, Ray Wiley Hubbard, and original OJATA guitarist Bruce Krupnik.
Previously, a co-writer in one of Bakersfield’s best Blues bands in the early 2000’s, Revelator, and eventually touring for awhile with The Iron Outlaws, established himself amongst his peers as a force to be reckoned with. His style and tonality is unique to himself. And it was this uniqueness that he had brought to OJATA’s already established stepping out mood and sound that so many have become fans of. Already having collaborated with Jon English in co-writing the ever popular song “Love Light” that’s found on “Abandoned No More, featuring Bruce Krupnik” there was no doubt the fit was a good one when needed. Brett can be heard on Orphan Jon’s 2020 Rip Cat Records release “Reckless Abandon LIVE”
Jason Blakely-Drummer 2019 –
Drummer Jason Blakely, born in Burbank, CA, is The Abandoned’s current purveyor of the beat. He received his first drum at age 3, and even though it was neon blue and said “Playskool” on the side, he was smitten. By age 11, he had taken piano lessons for 7 years, drum lessons for 6, was already dabbling with the guitar, and had won “Most Outstanding Jazz Band Member” from A.E. Wright Middle School, an award created that year specifically for him.
Performing in various jazz and concert band programs, he grew a taste for playing live on large stages such as Disneyland and the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, where he played drums for the production of, “A Chorus Line”.
During freshman year of high school, at age 12, he joined his first band. It was with this band he became familiar with the stages of the Roxy, the Whiskey, and the rest of the Sunset Strip. By age 17, he had appeared on 4 different albums, including one produced by John Gass (Whitney Houston, Boys 2 Men, Mariah Carey), of 90’s R&B fame.
In competition, he won a performance/songwriting mentorship from Capital Records’ Lauren Israel after taking home first place in a battle of the bands. He has also won the opportunity to play “Save Tommy Night” (USC vs. UCLA pep rally held on campus) through a separate battle of the bands, and has made it to the regional finals of Guitar Center’s Drum Off, twice.
Since moving to Bakersfield in 2004, Jason has played with several different local groups, including a 10-year stint with the nationally-touring act, Latin-Rockers, Velorio. Other groups of note include Therese & the Sweetness, Mopey Lonesome & the Drunken Voicemails, and Crime Bison.
Professionally, Jason has co-produced several albums, as well as overseeing marketing and promotional duties for an assortment of groups. After recently spending 2 ½ years at iHeartMedia managing brand campaigns for a diverse portfolio of businesses, he now has dedicated his skills and full attention to providing OJATA another avenue of creativity and professionalism to keep the rhythm section strong and rolling. Jason can be heard on Orphan Jon’s 2020 Rip Cat Records release “Reckless Abandon LIVE”
Ray Sadolsky-Bassist 2019 –
The Abandoned’s current Bassist Ray Sadolsky is an east coast transplant born in Queens, NY who moved west after a very success career as a live performer and session musician in Boston. Since the move west, he has only furthered his resume and reputation, performing with, and producing, some of Bakersfield’s finest musicians.
He has also appeared on stage with several national acts including Eddie Money, Big House, The Buckaroos, Freebo and Monty Byrom and the Road Pilots. A huge theater fan, Ray has also performed in the Ovation Theater’s production of “Million Dollar Quartet” and has directed and promoted several live concerts for the theater. His main bass influences are James Jamerson, Paul McCartney, Rocco Prestia, Sting, and Pino Palladino. Ray can be heard on Orphan Jon’s 2020 Rip Cat Records release “Reckless Abandon LIVE”
Tony Jack Grigsby-Bassist 2016-2019
Former Bassist Tony Jack toured and performed with Orphan Jon extensively during the early years of OJATA. He grew up steeped in southern blues, roots and country music. Starting out on steelguitar he quickly realized his real love was the blues and those low notes that locked in with the rhythm of the drums. He moved over to the electric bass and has been there ever sense. Emerging as a professional bass player in the Los Angeles and Hollywood music scene he has gone to play from California to New York and beyond. His influences include James Jamerson, Donald Duck Dunn, Carl Radle, and endless others. Tony Jack provided his talents to the 2018 studio recorded debut album “Abandoned No More, featuring Bruce Krupnik” on Rip Cat Records.
Stan Whiting-Drummer 2015-2017
Former Drummer Stan Whiting toured and performed extensively with Orphan Jon at the infancy of OJATA. He started playing drums when his parents bought a drum set for him at a very young age and after noticing his tendency to pull out the pots and pans and bang on them. Fast forward to 2015 where Stan has played music around the Central Coast for nearly 20 years and has had the privilege to play with the area’s top bands and artists. Diverse influences include Mick Fleetwood, Carter Beauford, David Garibaldi, Chris Tyrrell and of course, the legendary John Bonham. Mr. Whiting plays SJC drums and provided his talents to the 2018 studio recorded debut album “Abandoned No More, featuring Bruce Krupnik” on Rip Cat Records.