Often called Lombard’s “First Family of Folk" Tom & Anne Jones and their daughter Cathy, teach guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, autoharp, mountain and hammered dulcimers, and string bass, as well as harmony singing by ear. The Joneses love sharing traditional music and they actively encourage everyone to take part.
Cathy majored in violin at Earlham College where she performed early music, lead a barn dance group and hosted a folk music radio show. In college, Tom performed with concert choir at Earlham and Anne studied piano at Wesleyan College in Georgia.
While students at the University of Chicago, Tom’s & Anne’s growing interest in the guitar brought them together and to the Old Town School of Folk Music where they studied guitar and banjo. Before long Anne was teaching babysitters and placed a classified ad offering “Summer Youth Guitar Classes". This was the start of a front porch school in their Glen Ellyn bungalow in the summer of 1966. Anne and Tom led students in backyard hootenannies plunking guitar, banjo, and gut bucket bass, and have been sharing their enthusiasm for home made traditional music ever since.
Anne’s success with teaching neighborhood children led to a year as an instructor at the Old Town School of Folk Music. The next year, Anne was asked to start a guitar class in Hinsdale, where Tom & Anne pioneered, and still continue, adult evening guitar and banjo instruction in the western suburbs through the College of DuPage.
In 1971 the Joneses moved to a larger Glen Ellyn Home with an entire floor dedicated to lessons, instrument building and repair classes and ensemble groups. By 1975, due partly to the trendiness of the guitar and banjo, and Anne’s volunteer “song lady" program in local schools, the program was teaching 250 students each week, 100 of them youth students, at the Joneses home. Added were classes in fiddle, mandolin, banjo building, and ensemble, in bluegrass, old-timey, and folk styles. The Joneses began classes at the Wheaton Schools Adult Education, the B R Ryall YMCA, and developed associations with the Fox Valley Folklore Society, Plank Road Folk Music Society and The Warrenville Folk Music Society.
By 1977, too busy for their quiet residential neighborhood, The Joneses moved to a 15 room house on Roosevelt Road in Wheaton, and soon two full floors were devoted to music, and banjo and guitar classes at the Glen Ellyn and Naperville Park Districts were added.
The Jones Family String Band was born about this time, when Tom and Anne played at schools, summer camps, scout groups, etc. often with their young children who were learning to play.
The Jones Family String Band has performed at Downers Grove Heritage Fest, Fox Valley Folk Festival, Gebhard Woods Dulcimer Fest, Warrenville Folk Fest, Kline Creek Farm Harvest and Danada Fall Festivals, Clayville Rural Life Center, The Graue Mill, and for numerous other local organizations and groups.
Since 1987 the Joneses have taught in their picturesque circa 1915 Tudor/Arts & Crafts house in Lombard, where Tom spent his school-boy years. Lessons on various instruments take place regularly in all corners of the house. The living room is the frequent site of jam sessions, sing-a-rounds, rehearsals, classes, workshops, and house concerts.Tom and Anne are celebrating their 41st year as a teaching team. Former students now number in the thousands, and Anne has the honor of having been the first guitar teacher of noted performers Muriel Anderson and Andrew Calhoun.