Park City dentist who moonlights as a musician signs with a London-based record label
‘This Highway Ends’ begins streaming April 30
Jonathan Kolon will honor Park City and mark the trials the country has gone through with COVID-19 when he releases his new song “This Highway Ends” on April 30.
“It’s about working at the hospital and dealing with COVID — false positives to people dying,” said Kolon, the founder of Silver Creek Dental and Dharma Wheels Cyclery, who is known musically as Dr. Jon and leads the roots-music band Mountain Town. “If you hear it, there is a lot of struggle, but I’m a pretty optimistic guy.”
The song, which will be available on all streaming services, will be released through The Animal Farm, a record label based in London, according to Kolon.
The label was founded in 2005 by brothers Ville and Mat Leppanen, who started out as producers in the early 1990s. The company now specializes in production, artist management, label services, publishing administration and booking.
“I can’t believe there is a professional label that is developing me as an artist,” Kolon said.
Kolon’s path to The Animal Farm started more than 20 years ago when he moved to Park City from Detroit to practice dentistry, which included five years at the People’s Health Clinic.
During that time, he honed his guitar and vocal skills in the local music scene.
“One of the things that attracted me to Park City was the fact that you could go see live music every night, whether it was at Mileti’s, the Alamo or Cisero’s, at the time,” he said. “I found everyone liked music, and that was a way to get people into the dental office door.”
Kolon would fix teeth during the day then sit in at gigs and sessions during the off hours with local stalwarts that included 10th Mountain, the Motherlode Canyon Band, Fatpaw and George Austin.
“After seeing support the town has given to live music and performing arts in general, I wanted to be a part of the community, and for years I focused on playing covers with these artists,” he said.
In 2015, Kolon decided to take a Navy contract, because he wanted to teach dentistry.
So, he applied for and landed the job as program director of the dental residency program at Navy Medicine and Readiness Training at Portsmouth, which is in Virginia and is also known as Naval Hospital, Portsmouth.
“When my wife Kim and I moved out here, we just took along just the basics, including a couple of guitars,” he said with a laugh. “And it was a fun opportunity for me to fly around in helicopters.”
Kolon felt a bit of culture shock when he decided to check out the East Coast outdoor community.
“There is no skiing and no biking, but a lot of running,” he said. “So, after I would work 50 to 60 hours, I wouldn’t come home to ski or take a bike ride. I would write songs, instead. I had a stack of notebooks with song ideas, and decided to sit down and do them.”
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Kolon decided to make some recordings and contacted his Park City music circle via Zoom.
“My fellow artists walked me through the process of laying down some tracks and doing a mix,” he said. “They also told me about places on the internet where musicians can pitch songs, and get lined up with labels. It’s kind of like speed dating.”
Kolon took a cue and recorded and mixed some tracks and put the music on one of those websites.
“I sat back, and nothing happened, until one day when I got a message from Ville, who wanted to know more about what I do,” Kolon said. “We did a formal Zoom interview, and Ville and his brother Mat asked me to send me a song that I wanted to be associated with if I had only five minutes left to live.”
Kolon sent in his demo and lyrics of “This Highway Ends.”
“I really liked this songwriting,” Ville Leppanen said in an email interview. “The demos he sent were down to earth, as (was) his attitude in general, and it all felt really honest and heartfelt right away. His relaxed, good-natured vibe was quite infectious, completely in line with his musical output. I liked his unpretentious and earnest approach to his craft.”
The Leppanens recruited session musicians from London to re-record the music, and sent the master to Kolon for his vocals.
“It was funny because my wife said it sounded like Brit-pop, which was a far departure from the bluegrass music I play with Mountain Town,” Kolon said. “But she told me just to put the music on our speakers in the kitchen and sing. So I did, and she said, ‘This will totally work.’”
Kolon returned to Park City and recorded his vocals in the basement of his Prospector home, and sent the song back to London.
“After they got the song, they gave me guidance and told me to continue doing my old-timey, bluegrass cowboy songs, but also said the songs they would like to do with me would be more polished and different,” he said. “The cool thing was that they wanted to know if I was OK with that.”
The sincerity impressed Kolon.
“They like the fact that at the end of the day the music is done out of love, and that makes me want to stay loyal to them,” he said. “I could just fix teeth and teach and come home and watch movies. Instead, it’s fun to put some art out into the world.”
The plan is to release four songs this year, according to Kolon.
“I talk with the label every Sunday, and they want more, because I’m one of their only country singers,” he said.
Kolon just finished the follow-up release, “The House Always Wins,” and has plans for the next two.
“Things cosmically lined up,” he said. “Signing with The Animal Farm Music improves the quality of the recordings, provides income for session musicians and studio staff and provides artist development and management that could not be done independently.”
Leppanen said he enjoys working with Kolon.
“The internet allows us to connect with cool artists the world over and help them along the path,” he said. “The goal has always been to provide a platform for artists who we think are cool to get the voices heard.”
For information about The Animal Farm Music, visit theanimalfarm.co.uk
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