Whitman musicians Juli and Jon Finn record ‘Tribute’ to Bonnie Raitt

Born in Capetown, South Africa, Juli Finn moved to Colorado when she was 4 and then to Tacoma, Washington when she was 19, where she says she “grew up” for the second time.

“I started playing guitar in high school. I also went the classic route,” she said. “My passion is rich instrumental rock guitar.”

She won a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston and became an undergraduate at the age of 42. Since then, she has pursued a career that includes live performance, recording, songwriting and teaching music.

Her husband, Jon Finn, has been a guitar teacher at Berklee for over 30 years and is the author of five instructional books. He grew up in Westwood and has lived on the South Shore ever since, describing his life as “a bit the opposite of Juli’s in terms of transformations”.

At Berklee, he started the Jon Finn Group, which produced three internationally released albums and performed widely. In addition to his guitar instructional books, he has written for Guitar magazine and performed as a guest solo artist for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops.

Each went on to successful careers as musical performers on their own. “But when we found each other,” Juli Finn said, “we quickly realized that the music we create together transcends our solo work tenfold.”

Performing together, they lend their own take on blues, rock and classic covers, performing at such prestigious venues as Tanglewood, Carnegie Hall, Sky Church in Seattle and Roseland Theater in Portland, Ore.

Whitman residents also create, perform and record their original music. This month, the couple perform a release show for their new album, ‘Tribute’, at the Red Lion Tavern Cave, 71 South Main St., Cohasset, Thursday, June 2, from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are $20; they can be purchased at www.exploretock.com/thetavernattheredlioninn/event/341120.

“Tribute” features the Finns and their band’s rendition of four classic songs by blues-rock artist and pop star Bonnie Raitt, as well as a new song written by Juli Finn in tribute to Raitt’s artistry.

The recording features Juli and Jon Finn on guitar and vocals, backed by bandmates Joe Santerre on bass, Larry Finn on drums and Rich Cesarini on keyboards.

Juli Finn described the new recording as “a testament to my own music and my growth as a musician, and my success as a woman in the landscape of the musical profession”.

Juli Finn composed and performed an original song based on music by Bonnie Raitt for Jon and Juli Finn’s new album, “Tribute”.
Charlie Hollis and Dave Shaheen

“I was careful to record Bonnie’s songs in my own style, being careful not to create a mirror image of her own individual sound,” Finn said from the couple’s home in Whitman.

Tracks covering music that Raitt has written or made into vehicles for herself are “Give it Up or Let Me Go” (written by Raitt), “Love Me Like a Man” (by Chris Smither), “Angel from Montgomery ” (by John Prine) and “Walking Blues” (by Robert Johnson).

Juli Finn said she has long admired both Raitt’s music and his continued success in an often volatile industry.

“I’m inspired by all she’s accomplished and how, at 72, she’s still touring and making music,” Finn said. “I love her humble sense of gratitude in her accomplishments…She’s a powerhouse, but also so grounded.”

“Being a woman just being powerful,” Finn said of Raitt’s example. “She fights against the idea that aging women can’t be important in the entertainment industry.

Finn said his own original track on “Tribute,” titled “Dig Deep,” came from his research into the pop star’s thoughts about his work. The track represents both Raitt’s and Finn’s efforts to dig deep into the musical sources and lived experiences that drive their music.

Robert Knox can be reached at [email protected].

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