LIMA — When he’s not playing his music on tour, Jonathan Foster is a practicing biologist.
This Saturday, Foster will perform songs from his five albums at The Lab, owned and run by Marc Bowker, who has become a major contributor to Lima’s burgeoning live music scene.
“I’m a touring singer-songwriter and I’ve never been to Lima before. I’ll be playing about 200 shows this year across the country on my ‘Nomadic’ summer tour, and it’s on my way back out west,” Foster said.
Foster uses both his talents as a scientist and an artist to draw attention to issues that affect current and future generations.
“I always think of the world from the perspective of the natural environment and that subtly influences my writing,” he said.
Foster holds a bachelor’s degree in biology, with a concentration in conservation biology, from SUNY’s College of Environmental and Forest Sciences in Syracuse, New York.
He is deeply committed to the environment. After graduating, he interned and then spent six years with the US Army Corps of Engineers helping administer the Clean Water Act through the Environmental Protection Agency. For the past 10 years he has run his own business working on wetland conservation and the preservation of endangered species, especially birds and amphibians.
He has lived in northern California since 2001. The song “Into the Black” from his latest album comments on wildfires in the state. It begins with “We’re just sitting here, waiting for the smoke to clear / Close your eyes, hide the pain / See a misty sky, little droplets of rain.”
His music has changed over time.
“I started writing songs as a teenager and started playing other people’s songs in college to help pay our bills. It’s really been in the last 12 years that things have changed. Over the past 10 years I’ve released five studio albums and during that time I’ve toured nationally across the country on an independent level, meaning small stages and venues,” said said Foster.
“As with anything, as we evolve as we get older and learn more about the world. Really what it is is learning about ourselves – what we love and what we gravitate towards I would say I’m a much more articulate songwriter and more accomplished guitar player than I was 10 years ago,” Foster said. “There’s even an evolution with the material that’s already been released. is fun to listen to these changes. I still perform some songs that I wrote maybe 20 years ago, but I perform them differently now. You make subtle changes and hear how the soul of the song has changed over time.
“Today I try to focus on the present, whereas before it was more about writing about myself or a small event that was exciting. Now I try to communicate a bigger picture intended to a wider audience with multiple perspectives. I also leave the meaning up to their interpretation rather than being direct.
For Foster, like many artists, the pandemic has slowed his pace. This gave him more time to think, and his focus shifted to writing about larger societal issues.
“I wrote 90% of my last album called Lantern Shade (released last year) during the pandemic years when my summer tour was cancelled. I approached the pandemic in terms of what it means for our people and our communities. I’ve also written about all the social unrest going on.
This summer he’s back on tour and too busy to write new songs on the road.
“When I’m traveling, it’s really hard to finish songs,” Foster said. “Hopefully when I get back home to Northern California, I’ll be ready to go back to the studio and put together some new material for release next year.”
Learn more about Foster’s music and sample his music online at jfmusic.net/songs.
Contact Shannon Bohle at 567-242-0399, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @Bohle_LimaNews.