Meet Your Barista: Jon @ HB-Shelbyville Rd
If you’ve ever met Jon, you know his enthusiasm is contagious, and that a five minute chat can quickly turn into a deep and genuine conversation.
“He’s a really talented musician and in his songs, he talks a lot about his experiences as a trans person. He’s also a total activist who gets involved with all kinds of organizations that look out for marginalized groups,” says his manager, Ashley.
Which location do you work at?
I work at the Shelbyville Road location in St. Matthews.
How long have you been working at HB?
I’ve been here at this location since early November 2015.
Louisville Native or Transplant?
I’m a Louisville transplant, originally from Cape Girardeau, Missouri. I moved here from Mississippi, where I was living after I graduated
Tell us a little bit about your music!
I do play music and love to make lots of different types of art! I perform solo as Jon Asher Tenholder. I started playing guitar in college, and am self-taught, so the genre I play comes from a mix of music I connect to emotionally: country, folk, americano, light rock genres that focus on lyrics and the acoustic elements of guitar. Fairly typical, nothing too expansive or new-sounding. I play drums as well, any genre that I can practice and replicate! I’m also working on a collaborative project called “The Captain The Ship.” Check us out on Facebook and Soundcloud.
Do you write most of the music you/your group plays? Is there a song you’re most proud of?
I think a song I am most proud of is called Fires. It is about my social and physical transition as a trans person, mainly grief of change and loss. But I like the song because it is honest in sadness and tone and I feel like anyone can conceptualize grief in their own way and connect from that basic experience to mine as trans person. I want to humanize the aspects of my personality that are non-conforming and I feel like this song does a good job of that.
Here’s the link to an old video of “Fires” on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oHWfBygquD8
What’s most exciting/inspiring to your art and music?
My most recent inspiration/material for writing is my inner turmoil and dialogue. Coming from a family with unhealthy dynamics including emotional, verbal, and physical abuse, I have had difficulty with my own coping skills such as co-dependency and lack of self-referral and emotional identification. Trauma affects the brain and body and creating music helps me to search my thoughts, emotions, hopes, etc. make them feel real and tangible, to better understand myself, and help others understand me, etc.
It sounds like you’re pretty involved in Trans & LGBTQIA activism here in Louisville – are there any particular organizations or exciting projects you’re working on at the moment?
I support the Fairness Campaign, although I have not been as involved as I would like to say! I attend Diversity at the Table, a community group started by Talesha Wilson, a BLM activist, LGBTQIA advocate, Black, Queer Womanist and UofL alum. We meet weekly to talk on race, gender, sexuality, family, any type of relevant social issues and how to work through them as individuals.
Also, Books and Breakfast on that last Saturday of every month. Chad Golden started this group in Louisville to promote community conversation, reading, and discussion on issues affecting black communities in Louisville. Free books, free breakfast, in a loving atmosphere!
I was also just involved in a photo shoot. My friends, Briana Simone and Alexis Terion, created this shoot in commemoration of the reported 27 trans lives lost to violence in 2016. They are promoting their new clothing brand that strives to be inclusive to marginalized groups/identities!
Is there anything from your personal experience you want people to know or that you’ve learned from?
Something I would always love to share with folks is that I wish that people could take more time to be an active listener or advocate for a group of people they are different from, whether race, religion, genetic difference, etc. I have learned about myself, my ego, my biases and how that affects people that experience oppression where I do not simply by listening. I feel like people of color, queer people, non-Christian people in this country live in a socially “less than” space. I think that comes from a lack of social, emotional, and factual information that surrounds those folks, misinformation from media, the education system, nationalistic beliefs, etc.
I feel a positive step to debunking this misinformation is with humility and genuine, human connection to people who are asking to be seen and heard, who want and deserve to feel valid, loved, embraced by those who have power or social influence over their lives and safety. If choosing to volunteer or be involved in different community, act from a heart-space of service and humility, not a savior.
Anytime I see you, you are always so positive and enthusiastic – do you have a life philosophy that governs your outlook?
I try to stay positive, but I definitely experience so many emotions in the day! Recently, I have been living by a Buddhist philosophy called the Lotus Sutra. It means that every living being has a divine nature and I chant in order to help nurture that in myself and others.
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
If I could visit anywhere in the world, I would go to India, then Spain, and Ireland, and basically everywhere.
What’s your favorite HBC drink?
My favorite HB drink is…Well dang, I enjoy too many. I honestly love grabbing a fresh cup of drip coffee, my favorite being Bolivia! But to treat myself, definitely a Salty Turtle.
Keep an eye out for Jon’s new music endeavors! You can often catch him performing at events at some of these local venues:
Time and Space on Bardstown Rd.: Mondays 9pm
Four Pegs: Thursdays at 9pm
The Vibe Open Mic: Thurdays at 9:30pm (Haymarket Whiskey in the back)
Wick’s New Albany: Thursdays 7pm.
Also, tune into 100.9 FM Crecent Hilll Radio WCHQ for some of his original songs!