From the start, bandmates Jon and Jennifer Ellison found a connection in the raw, redemptive power of rock & roll music. Mere minutes after the two met, they spent a night at a mutual friend’s party listening to frontmen like Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen for hours. This mutual passion for music laid the brickwork not only for their marriage, but for the formation of their band, Bearing Torches. Their music is the sound of a working-class family band whose members have survived homelessness, overseas stints in the Navy, dead-end jobs, and depression. These songs tell autobiographical stories about survival, big dreams, harsh realities, and bittersweet victories, with Bearing Torches finding plenty of source material in their own history.
For Jon, rock & roll was always synonymous with connection to a bigger world during his childhood years. He grew up in a strict religious household where secular music was not accepted or allowed. Things weren't any easier at the seminary he attended as a teenager — the same school that eventually threw him out for listening to the FM radio under his pillow after lights out. As a result, Jon found himself homeless, sleeping on a park bench during the day and working night shift at a local grocery store. A young adult, Jon took control of his future by making the decision to join the Navy. This turning point led Jon to meet his future wife, Jen, changing the course of his life forever.
Once Jon's commitment to the Navy was up, the couple landed $6-hour jobs and simultaneously formed Bearing Torches. "We were just stumbling our way through it, learning as we went,” Jen remembers launching the band before they’d even mastered their own instruments—cutting her teeth on the drums while Jon tightened his songwriting chops. Before long, the band had expanded its lineup and established a new home in Nashville, where Jon's younger brother, Joseph, served as the band's guitarist. With family friend AJ Babcock rounding out Bearing Torches' roster, the group explored a level of shared musicianship that seemed uniquely deep. “Jen and I are spouses. Joseph and I are blood brothers. We have the same tastes, the same roots in music. Those instincts mesh together around our common experiences and common approaches to life, and that's the real thing that helps us connect musically,” Jon says of his three bandmates, two of whom sharing his last name.
The band pays tribute to Tom Petty's finesse, Bruce Springsteen's fire, Pete Seeger's storytelling, and Woody Guthrie's spirit. "Hearing their music gave me the confidence to tell the stories I wanted to tell. Everything started clicking once I discovered rock & roll, because those guys told the truth.”
Bearing Torches isn't just a band; it’s a love story. It's a family. In a town filled with country stars and first rate sidemen, this is a hardscrabble rock & roll group whose musical chops weren't taught in the classroom, but learned onstage instead. Jon explains, “In a world where you become more and more isolated, how can you shine a light on what people are actually going through? You can tell that story in a rock & roll song.” Bearing Torches has struggled and survived, and they have told their story every inch of the way. An undeniable force, they are the ultimate example of real, raw rock music.