Interview with Jon Synder from “The Dave and Jon” band

jon1. Hello Jon and welcome to Kick Acts. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Jon Snyder and I’m here to eat all your hot wings!! I teach and play music professionally, but that doesn’t mean I’m lazy. I guess I’ve been learning to play guitar for almost thirty years and have been gigging bars and clubs for about twenty years. Geez, you’d think I’d be better than I am by now! I teach at the Guitar Lab in Evansville and carry between 40 – 50 students a week. I’ve been married for four years and have a two year old son (and one on the way). My social security number is…

2. You’re currently in the band called “Dave and Jon”. Tell us who’s in the band and how we can find you online and any shows that we can catch you.

Ok, I’m going to go slow on this question; the members of the Dave and Jon “band” are Dave and Jon. Seriously, you had to be kind of expecting an answer like that, right? Dave Lutz sings and I play the guitar. Oh, Dave has a guitar and wears his guitar while we play, but that’s about as far as he goes with it. I’m not sure where you can find info about us on the web. Dave handles all that. I know we have a Myspace page and Dave and I both have Facebook pages, so start there!! (Editor, Jon, here is your band’s link http://www.myspace.com/thedaveandjonband)

3. You guys have an acoustic act. How does that differ from say, being in a “full” on band with all the instruments? You were playing with Hog-maw, is that still going on? If so, tell us about that project too.

Playing in an acoustic act can be both easier and more difficult than playing with a full band. On the one had, many songs don’t require much more than just strumming some chords, but on the other, you don’t have anyone else to hide behind, so your mistakes are more obvious. There are a lot of songs that don’t normally transition well to acoustic, so I have to be creative in the rhythms I play to help get the general “feel” of the song across. Sometimes it works, sometimes it sounds stupid. We’ve found most of the time people don’t really care as long as you are playing the songs they want to hear. I don’t mean that to sound like we don’t care, we do really try, but when it comes down to it, the kind of music we play is really geared towards a “sing along” type of crowd. We can play some arsty-fartsy stuff, but we prefer to entertain and get paid.

I do still lead and play in Hog Maw. Honestly, that style of music is much more “me” than the stuff I play with Dave. Hog Maw is a blues based band, though we try to sound a bit more modern than what some people may categorize as “blues.” It has more of an edge. We are currently writing and will soon be recording our second CD. We just hired a new drummer named Jim Cauley, who some might remember as the drummer with the Huckleberries. He’s great, though a HUGE sissy!

4. You guys (Jon and Dave 🙂 are known for doing show tunes during your acoustic sets. How has the audience responded to that? And do you consider yourself the “Captain” in the “Captain and Tennille” show?

Well, I do handle the harmonic and rhythmic portion of our performance, just like the Captain. And Dave does have longer hair and wears women’s underwear, just like Tennille. Any more questions about that? Well, I didn’t know we were actually “known” for doing show tunes, and I assuming you’re talking about the t.v. songs we play. We don’t actually know any show tunes from musicals. Honestly, we don’t do it very often because it seemed to annoy people. That really surprised me. I thought people would flip to sing along to some classic t.v. show themes. You live and you learn.

5. Do you have a greatest gig story you’d like to share? (In any band)

I’ve done a lot of great gigs with a lot of great people. Probably the one that I remember the most fondly was with my first “real” band, Tin Pan Alley. We were playing outside at a beer festival in Daylight, Indiana and a HUGE storm came in about halfway through the gig. We thought the place would clear out, but instead everybody there (and there were a couple hundred people there) jumped under the band tent with us and danced and had fun for the rest of the night. We were so packed in, I couldn’t even see the other guys in the band.

6. How about the worst gig? (In any band)

I’ve done a lot of crappy gigs with a lot of crappy people (laughs). Kidding. Most of my crappy gigs have been with guys I love like brothers. I’ve been lucky that way. Even in the worst playing situations, it’s great to know you can count on the guys playing next to you. I guess the worst gig was playing for a horse riding club. They were kicking horse apples at us.

7. Do you have any other hobbies other than playing guitar? Collect stamps? Collect hats from off the side of the road?

I don’t really have time for hobbies. For a time I was a real health nut, I worked out constantly, but family and age slowed all that down. I do like to read when I have time and I love the Red Sox and the Colts. I have an awesome collection of Fender lunch boxes, the entire collection actually. Does that count? I used to fish all the time, but again, no time now. Seriously, how do people have time for hobbies?

8. If you had to pick the greatest guitar player of all time who would that be and why?

I get asked that by my students all the time. Sorry, but I can’t give a direct and finale answer, I can only offer some of my favorites. No order here: Brian Setzer, Billy Gibbons, Robben Ford, Freddie King, every guitar player to ever play with the Alman Bros, Sonny Landreth, Kenny Vaughan, Pete Anderson, Jim Campilongo, Eddie Van Halen, Willie Nelson (not kidding), Elliot Easton, Jimmy Herring, the list goes on and on…

9. You stay pretty busy playing and giving guitar lessons. Do you ever get one of those kids that just don’t want to play but his parents make him? How do you handle that?

Had one of those today. The thing is, you serve a different purpose to different students. Some students have a serious drive to learn the instrument and others are just there for a hobby. I have found that for some students I’m a friendly ear when they are going through some tough times and their lessons with me are almost a form of therapy. And, unfortunately, for some students I am nothing more than a baby sitter. I used to get rattled when I had a student who clearly had no interest in learning to play, but now I just do my best to try and create some interest and at the end of the lesson, I just put it out of my mind. You can’t get hung up on students like that, instead I put my energy into the ones that thrive on what I have to give. I wish I could say that I’ve been able to turn many of those reluctant students around, but that doesn’t happen very often. I usually give a student like that a month to show some interest and then I have the “talk” with the parents. I can say that I had one student like that about five years ago and after a year of telling his parents that he just wasn’t into learning the guitar, he did a complete 180 and is still taking lessons from me today, one of my favorite students in fact. Just goes to show, you never know.

10. # 10 is called “Shout it Loud”. It’s were you get to talk about whatever you want to talk about. So go ahead Jon, and “SHOUT IT OUT LOUD”!

Jeez, where to begin… I don’t really have anything to shout about. I’m pretty lucky. I put in the time to learn my instrument enough to make a living with it, and that makes me fortunate. I think there are a number of things I would have been really good at; I think I would have made a better writer than guitar player had I put my efforts into that. But I get to play and teach guitar for my bread and that is a pretty good deal. I’m no where even close to being one of the more talented players in the area, but I’m reliable and professional and I have good tasted in knowing when to play and when to hold back. I think I’m a better “behind the scenes” type of player than the guy trying to wow everyone with technical greatness. There are so many things I still have to learn, which is also a great feeling. It would be depressing to feel like you’ve accomplished all you can and now there’s nothing left but to look back.

Bonus question… And a Hypothetical question here. It would never happen. But suppose you and your singer are having lunch, say at Cheeseburger in Paradise and you have been doing shows there for months. The waitress comes up to the table and recognizes David, the singer in your band but she doesn’t have a clue to who you are…How do you handle that? Does she still get a tip?

Ah, you’ve been talking to Dave. Yup, that’s happened a few times. It was pretty funny. It would have been different if the waitress was new, but she’s worked EVERY biker night we’ve played, counting last summer AND this summer. She looked at me and asked, “is this your first time at Cheeseburger in Paradise?” I felt sorry for her because we all laughed and she obviously didn’t get why it was so funny. I think she thought we were laughing at her, but we weren’t. I’ve been in a number of bands and I’m pretty the last guy to get recognized and that’s totally cool with me. You can get away with more when nobody notices you (evil grin)!!

Super Duper bonus Kick Acts question… 🙂 Dave has been known to be an ass and hard to work with. In fact, you are probably the longest guitar player that has ever played with him including myself…Do you think Dave has a “Yoko Ono” complex or is just an “ass” in general? Have you ever experienced it? If so, how do you deal with it? Tune him out? Long for December 9th, 1980 or just medicate yourself in front of a Keith Richard’s poster and dream about a yellow submarine?

I’ve been working with Dave for almost ten years now. I don’t think anyone else has even come close to that. Honestly, I think anyone who works with Dave really does have to have his or her shit together because you never know what song he might want to try (even if HE doesn’t know it) or what part of the song he may decide to go to. Let’s just say he can be a challenge and he’s actually got a bit of a reputation for it with pretty much everyone he’s worked with (I’ve seen a lot ’em come and go). He’s a great guy, one of the best people I know, and I don’t know a single person who would argue with me about that, everybody likes Dave, it’s just he’s so unpredictable when it comes to performance. In all fairness, he’s gotten a LOT better since we started playing much more regularly. We’ve learned to read each other. And I couldn’t do what he does, I’ll admit that. He has no fear. He would have made a pretty good game show host. Any success we have is directly attributed to him. I’m the guy who plays the guitar for Dave Lutz, who is the true rock star of the duo. We’ve had some rough nights and will most likely have some more, and he can frustrate me to no end with his incessant talking between songs and less than tactful comments (he really shouldn’t call people “losers” on the mic, even though he’s kidding). But I stick with him because he’s my meal ticket… just kidding. I stick with him because I’m lucky to play with such a talented guy who also happens to be one of my best friends (and he’s my meal ticket). Besides, who else am I going to find to play with who would so proudly sing such completely fruity songs. People love it! Well, SOME people love it…

Thanks for the questions and I hope to see everyone out every Tuesday this summer at Cheeseburger In Paradise!!

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3 Comments


  1. //

    Thanks again for the questions. Just wanted to add that I DID tip that waitress and it was a VERY generous tip!!


  2. //

    Jon is BY FAR the biggest sissy I’ve ever played in a band with. Dave Lutz is a close 2nd. Both talented-but Jon is, in my opinion, the most under-rated guitar player in this area…along with Cooper “Princess” Bell.
    Jon-put that check in the mail soon.


  3. //

    Thanks Jim, but the I think the phrase your looking for is “over rated.”

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