There is a strong early Bob Dylan vibe blowin’ in the wind of J.S. Ondara’s debut album Tales of America released earlier this year. The record, a sublime set of stark sometimes melancholy tunes that perfectly frames the boyish vocals and nuanced delivery inherent in Ondara’s voice has earned him a nomination for emerging artist of the year to be presented by the Americana Music Association later in the year.
Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya listening mostly to rock music, Ondara apparently always thought that “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” was a Gun’s ‘N’ Roses song. After he lost a bet to a friend who told him that the song’s true origins, folk music became his passion. And so began his travels down the Dylan rabbit hole that eventually lead him to Minneapolis, in Dylan’s home state, to pursue his career.