Don Stiernberg has been a professional musician for nearly 50 years. Along the way he has been involved in performing, writing, recording, producing, and teaching, but is best known for his mandolin playing. His path was set very early on as he grew up north of Chicago. Emulating his older brother, he experimented with playing various stringed instruments, finally landing on the mandolin. Things got serious when an ad played on the radio: “Study Mandolin with the great Jethro Burns”… At his first lesson he discovered what he wanted to do: play the mandolin, be a musician, and try to be as cool as Jethro Burns! Within a few short years he was playing professionally, first in a bluegrass band with his brother, later standing right next to his hero in The Jethro Burns Quartet. There was no turning back, and thanks to encouragement and mentorship from his family and hero he is still out there trying to achieve those early goals.
Currently Don is regarded as a leading exponent of jazz mandolin style, and a respected teacher. In June of 2020 his tenth recording project ,”Straight Ahead” by The Don Stiernberg Quartet, was released and quickly garnered praise in The Chicago Tribune as one of the “Best Jazz Recordings of 2020”. “Rhythm Twist”, recorded coast to coast by Stiernberg, Price, Ruby and Kehrberg was released in September of 2022.
There are four online instructional courses for mandolinists available at Soundslice.com, and the book “Jazz Mandolin Appetizers”is available from Mel Bay. In person, Don teaches at mandolin-focused camps and events from coast to coast and abroad, and covers the same territory performing at clubs, festivals, and concert halls with his own group. On the horizon is more of the same: a dedicated pursuit of ‘the good notes” to share with audiences, listeners, and students.