J. D. Foster

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JD Foster
JD Foster in Ithaca NY 2013
Background information
Born (1953-08-07) August 7, 1953 (age 67)
Indiana, United States
GenresRock, alternative country
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter, producer
InstrumentsBass, guitar, bass clarinet
Years active1986–present
Associated acts Calexico, Marc Ribot, Richard Buckner, Anna Coogan, Dwight Yoakam, Patty Griffin, 17 Hippies

JD Foster is an American record producer, bassist, multi-instrumentalist, composer and songwriter.


Producer, performer and recording artist

JD Foster has produced albums and songs for a wide variety of artists and contributed as a bassist and multi-instrumentalist on many alternative, rock, and country albums. His list of collaborations includes Marc Ribot, Patty Griffin, Calexico, Ronnie Lane, Richard Buckner, Lucinda Williams, Vinicio Capossela, Anna Coogan, 17 Hippies, Il Pan Del Diavolo, Eszter Balint and many more. As well as being a producer, JD Foster is also a songwriter, musician, and recording artist.

From Florida to L.A.

He started his career in Central Florida, playing bass with numerous Orlando, Gainesville, and Saint Augustine musicians. Foster lived in Los Angeles throughout most of the 1980s playing with Dwight Yoakam, Jim Lauderdale, Rosie Flores, Pete Anderson and many other country artists. He started his major label recording career as bassist in L.A. with Dwight Yoakam in 1986. [1] His work with Yoakam earned 3 platinum albums, saw tours all across America and Europe, as well as appearances on Austin City Limits , Solid Gold, [2] The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson , The Grammys , [3] and various music videos. [4] [5]

During these years Foster also appeared "sidelining" in several TV shows and feature films. In this capacity he worked with artists including: T. G. Sheppard, Ben Vereen, Janie Fricke, Robert Blake, Drew Barrymore, and Madonna in the film Vision Quest.


Foster relocated to Austin Texas in 1988. There he joined The True Believers with Alejandro Escovedo. He also worked with Escovedo & Jon Dee Graham in the Make Believers. Foster played with Ronnie Lane in his Texas version of Slim Chance and appeared in Rupert Williams' documentary The Passing Show: The Life and Music of Ronnie Lane (2006) where he is interviewed about this association [6] During his Austin tenure Foster also started a band with Danny Barnes and Rich Brotherton, The Barnburners, releasing one recording. He and Brotherton also played regularly with songwriter David Halley.Foster & Halley also performed together in different productions of Bad Girls Upset By the Truth the musical play by Jo Carol Pierce.During this time he worked on recordings with The Silos and tour dates with Lucinda Williams among many others.

New York

Foster moved to New York City in 1991 and began working with artists in the improvisational scene and has worked closely with Marc Ribot on many projects through the years. He toured the US, Europe, and Japan with Ribot's noise combo Shrek appearing at events such as the Saalfelden Jazz Festival. Foster again toured Europe and Japan with Green on Red in the early 1990s. They performed on European television, at major venues and rock festivals, including the London Fleadh, Glastonbury Festival, and Roskilde Festival. In 2004–2005 Foster toured and recorded with Patty Griffin joining her on the "Sweet Harmony Traveling Revue" tour alongside Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, Gillian Welch, and David Rawlings. He also performed with Griffin on Austin City Limits and Late Night with David Letterman . [7] Foster worked on Laura Cantrells 2005 release [8] [9] before he joined Calexico in the following year. 2006 he produced the Calexico album Garden Ruin . [10] On this album his choices for production were "very adventurous in details - using unusual percussion, or wanting to bring in instruments like banjo ukuleles, bass melodica, electric mandolin, and tenor guitar." [11]

He played bass on T-Bone Burnett's album Tooth of Crime (2008) as well as appearing in the Signature Theatre production of the play in the 1996 – 97 season at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.

Foster formed The Slummers in 2010, with Dan Stuart, Antonio Gramentieri, and Diego Sapignoli. They released their debut album Love of the Amateur and toured Europe a year later.

In the autumn of 2013 Foster worked with the Ithaca based songwriter Anna Coogan, to record a co-written collection of songs for a new album. [12] Foster produced Coogan's first solo album The Nocturnal Among Us in 2009. [13] The duo performed dates in Germany, Netherlands, London, and NYC in 2014. They were joined by drummer Brian Wilson aka Willie B. (Johnny Dowd) on several dates. In October 2014 Foster and Coogan released their album "Birth of the Stars" on Elevate Records.

JD also often performs in the house band of the Radio Free Song Club with David Mansfield & Dave Schramm [14]

Other international collaborations

JD Foster joined the 17 Hippies in Berlin to take part in the production of Phantom Songs. [15] (2011).

In recent years Foster has been working extensively with Italian musicians and is strongly associated with the up-and-coming "Palermo Sound." [16] A recent Italian record review states: "Tra l'altro Storia Di Una Corsa denota chiaramente un sound moderno ma non per questo in linea con quello prevedibile e gettonato dai progetti musicali più pacchiani e quotati del momento. Determinanti, in tal senso, sono stati i gusti, le scelte, di chi questo disco l'ha prodotto a livello artistico senza tralasciare alcunché: JD Foster, appunto. " [17]


Foster won the Austin Chronicle Music Awards for Producer & Bassist of the year 1989–90 [18]


Describing his role as a producer, Foster says:

"I try to speak the same language as the artist. When you're chasing down the overall vibe of a recording, you know, the arrangement, instrumentation, tempo, sound, feel...probably the biggest factor is communication. It's exciting to figure out with the artist and engineer the direct technical way to record the sounds they're hearing in their head. " (2003) [19]

The Australian Songwriter Simon Bonney said about Foster in an interview from 1993 :

"J.D. was my tour guide (...). J.D. has a country background, but not exclusively, and he can contribute many other ideas as well. If I'd shown these songs to a purely traditional country musician, that person wouldn't have got it." [20]

Joey Burns (Calexico):

"JD is wonderful. Great to work, hang, listen, talk, go out and be with. He has a lot of experience and at the same time loves the sense of discovery that music can be. He knows how to breathe and reassure people of just how much a gift this whole ball of wax is." [21]

Partial discography

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  2. Solid Gold 87 on YouTube
  3. 87 Grammys on YouTube
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  5. Another Video with Yoakam on YouTube
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  7. Video with Patty Griffin on YouTube
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