Stringed instruments, life & other stuff presented by guitarist Jeff Foster
Stringed instruments, life & other stuff presented by guitarist Jeff Foster
Welcome to www.jefffoster.net
A complete retrospective of Jeff's recorded music, including band/CD info and streaming MP3s
Get your copy of Jeff's CD Midnight In Zagreb
Jeff Foster, Eclectic Guitarist
"Jeff has great chops and embellished my guitar pieces significantly. Maybe I should learn to play guitar!" ~~ Mason Williams, Grammy-winning composer of Classical Gas
“Jeff Foster, as well as being one of the most versatile guitarists around, is an exceptional writer. He uses a combination of acoustic, flamenco and electric instruments (as well as MIDI guitar synthesizers) to create music with fascinating textures and sounds. A great example is his haunting tribute to the freedom fighters of Croatia, Memories of Zagreb.” ~~ Liona Boyd, world-renowned classical guitarist
“Foster's polished, well-produced music is testimony to just what is possible with a home studio and a great deal of care. Of course, having impeccable chops and a highly evolved compositional sense helps. Relax and let Jeff's considerable skill take over. He burns remarkably well!” ~~ Mark Nelson, MIDI Guitarist Magazine
Jeff Foster cannot remember not playing the guitar. As a toddler his first stringed instrument was a ukelele, and he spent his younger years banging away on an old Silvertone, one string short of a full set. After beginning formal training on the guitar at the age of 10 (with all strings intact), Jeff gradually added bass, banjo, fiddle, mandola and pedal steel to his musical arsenal. He was also first-chair drummer in his high school band, and the Cowan Blackhawk marching cadence haunts him to this very day.
Jeff knew at a tender age what he wanted to do with his life, practiced non-stop, and became a semi-professional musician and guitar teacher while still in high school (with a little bulldozing on the side in the family business to make ends meet). He cut his teeth playing in several area bands as lead guitarist and banjo picker, continually writing songs and refining his eclectic guitar style. Jeff's fascination with classical, flamenco and jazz manifested early, and he was soon known for his advanced and spontaneous guitar musings.
A performer and composer since the early 70s, Jeff has played virtually every style of music over the years, including classical, flamenco, jazz, new-age, rock, country, blues and bluegrass. As a solo artist or band member, Jeff has opened concerts for and/or performed with such luminaries as Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention, John McLaughlin & the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Pat Benatar, Tracy Chapman, John Prine, Taj Mahal, Steve Goodman, Jorma Kaukonen, Rick Danko, The Ides of March, and many gifted, lesser known musicians.
The late great John Hartford once gave Jeff a lesson on how to tap-dance while playing the fiddle. Other notable musicians Jeff counts among his friends include world-renowned classical guitarist Liona Boyd (for whom Jeff wrote liner notes for two CDs), latin guitar shredmeisters Strunz & Farah (the subject of an extended article in StringDancer), and his boyhood idol, Mason Williams, with whom Jeff opened a concert in Bakersfield, California in the mid-90s. Mason invited Jeff to join him onstage to perform a two-guitar version of Mason's seminal guitar composition, Classical Gas. It remains Jeff's favorite gig of all time.
Jeff has rubbed shoulders with other a few other famous musicians... but he doubts they remember, being so drunk and all.
Living in Bloomington, Indiana in the late-80s, Jeff decided to augment his education, and began his studies at Indiana University. Sponsored by Dr. Anthony Seegar (nephew of folk legend, Pete Seegar), Jeff's individualized major program focused on Ethnomusicology, specifically on the history and development of Flamenco, the indigenous music of the gypsies of southern Spain, noted for its intricate and robust guitar stylings.
In addition, Jeff studied Jazz Improvization under Dr. David Baker, a truly ear-opening experience. Another area of study was Special Education under Dr. Barbara Wolf, which Jeff found quite useful in his role as a Master Music Artist with Very Special Arts, bringing art-related experiences to challenged populations throughout Indiana. In 1989 he received an Honors Grant from IU to travel to Croatia (then a republic of Yugoslavia) to research and document the use of art and music in the Croatian special education programs. As a result of this trip and his VSAI sponsorship, Jeff was selected to be an official delegate of Yugoslavia at the First Annual International Very Special Arts Convention in Washington, DC, where he performed with special kids at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and visited the White House, where he had the pleasure of meeting President and Mrs. George H. W. Bush. The President had an extremely firm handshake, as Jeff recalls.
Jeff began teaching guitar in 1971 when he was but a junior in high school. His favorite place to spend his spare time was Rocky's Music Center in Muncie, IN, where he and Rocky became good friends. Impressed by Jeff's skills on the guitar, one day Rocky asked, "Jeff, do you know how to read music?". Jeff had learned to read music at the age of 10, so Rocky pulled out a copy of Mel Bay's Modern Guitar Method, flipped to one of the back pages and asked the excited youngster to play what he saw. Jeff passed his audition, and thus began a long career in music instruction that continues to this day. See the Lessons are for more info. In 1996, during his tenure as a student at Indiana University in Bloomington, Jeff was recruited as a guitar instructor by IU's renowned School of Music. He began by teaching classes for beginners and intermediate students, and by the time he left Indiana for California in 1990, Jeff had taught hundreds of IU students to play guitar, and created an advanced-level class called Sight Reading and Ear Training for Guitar, writing the textbook himself.
In California during the 90s, Jeff was tapped to teach classical guitar at California State University - Bakersfield, a post he held for four years. This was one-on-one instruction, exclusively in the classical style, with a little flamenco for students interested in the music of the Andalucian Gypsies.
In 2009, Jeff launched his Recreational Guitar class at Ivy Tech Community College - Bloomington, Indiana. Operating out of the John Waldron Arts Center in downtown Bloomington, Jeff has since expanded his Ivy Tech program to include Recreational 5-string Banjo and Introduction to Music Theory.
Jeff's interest in electronic technology began in 1984, when he acquired his first Macintosh computer. He was one of the first guitarists in the nation to fully embrace and explore MIDI guitar synthesizers, extending his creative endeavors into MIDI sequencing for studio production and live performance.
Jeff went online in the mid-90s. He soon leveraged his knowledge of music, guitar and computers as an America Online Community Leader in AOL's Computing/Music & Sound channel, where he worked for almost four years. Jeff took care of channel maintenance and supervised activities for their guitar forum, GTR, creating content and building the feature list. His relationship with AOL ended in 2000, but Jeff found he rather enjoyed web design, and in the new millennium launched his web design and hosting business.
Beginning in the early 90s, Jeff got into audio production, beginning with his homespun CD, Midnight in Zagreb. During his California days, Jeff engineered and produced four other CD projects, and since returning to Indiana has continued to produce CD projects and the Brown County Hour, the most-downloaded radio program on WFHB Community Radio, broadcasting out of Bloomington. In 2012 Ruthie Allen Lincoln released Fascination, co-produced by Ruthie, Jeff and long-time friend Ron Keithe.
Today, Jeff resides contentedly with his wife, Rhonda Foster and two large black canines out in the woods near Nashville, Indiana. He teaches music, operates his project studio and web design businesses, and continues to perform solo and with Foster Jones with his buddy Frank Jones. Jeff also frequently sits in with other performers and bands as the opportunities arise. He remains continually amazed at how a guy with no steady job can stay so busy.