Biography

Hi! I’m Jack Pearson. As long as I can remember I’ve been in love with music, words and the meaning of things. I was born in California but spent my growing up years in Alexandria and Minneapolis, Minnesota. My dad was a Lutheran pastor and my mom played the organ. I grew up on hymnody, folk music and early rock and roll. I love wood as did many of my Swedish ancestors and so, naturally, was drawn to the acoustic sounds of wooden instruments. I was smitten by the guitar at a campfire sometime in 1965 and have yet to recover. The banjo came shortly thereafter and also has a special place in my heart. I was part of a little folk group in junior high with my brother, Brian, and a couple of friends - Harry and Wendy. I don’t remember what we were called but we had a lot of fun playing salad luncheons and church youth events. One time someone paid us five dollars and I could hardly believe it! Someone was paying me money? To play music?!?! Okay, it was only $1.25 because we had to split it four ways, but that experience helped kindle a dream I’ve been chasing ever since. Favorite musicians in those days included Peter, Paul and Mary, the Goldbriars, the Kingston Trio, Simon and Garfunkel, Gordon Lightfoot and a guy named James Taylor.

I started trying to write my own stuff, too: poetry and songs with the encouragement of a beloved high school teacher, Mr. Wally Kennedy. My dad played the mandolin so that joined what I was doing along with the fiddle. I studied fiddle for awhile with Mark O’Connor while going to school in Seattle. I then spent a couple of years at the University of Minnesota and taught at a fun music store called the Podium. In those days I listened a lot to the music of John Hartford and Norman Blake.

Since 1979 I’ve performed full-time for kids and families in the Upper Midwest and around the country in every situation you can think of. I bring a music/story experience of imagination, spirit, folklore and history on guitar, fiddle, 5-string banjo, mandolin, dobro and an assortment of small percussion instruments including my one-and-only amplified toy box lid. I’m a songwriter with one foot in our American folk tradition and the other joyfully lost in the landscape of imagination. I work with K-6 kids in schools both as a performer and resident artist. I also work closely with churches helping with worship or doing a concert for the kids or families. Summer finds me as musician-in-residence at Mount Hermon Conference Center near Santa Cruz, California. I’ve worked with Mount Hermon since 1986 leading campfires, singing with the kids, fiddling, playing spoons and boinging on the jawharp.  Through my work at Mount Hermon I found a good friend in Buddy Greene, an incredible harmonica player and musician.

I met Nancy Isaacson at a camp in Wisconsin when we were twelve. We were married in 1978 and have been ever since. Nancy and I live way up on the upper Mississippi in Minneapolis. We have two amazing kids, Peter and Kari, both grown up now and pursuing lives in children’s literature; Peter in writing and Kari in illustration. I make good pancakes, love to read, and wear suspenders a lot. I also love and understand rocks.