J.C. Anderson was born in Burlington, Iowa in 1952. English musicians of the 1960s introduced him to Blues greats like Muddy Waters, Albert King and Elmore James. He was already singing in a local blues-rock band by the age of 14. He soon bought a guitar, taught himself to play, and was hired for his first paying gig when he was 15. The Huns and Seventh Heaven were two of his early bands that played throughout southeastern Iowa and Illinois.
J.C. moved to central Iowa in the mid 1970s. He entered the Des Moines music scene and formed several bands that played the area. The first was Neon Tan. The next, Public Nuisance, began hosting the Blues Jam at Bagg’s on University. He went on to work the Sunday jam at The Cloud with Stingray. In 1991, the Thursday night jam began at a club at 15th and Grand, The Grand Avenue Lounge. J.C. later joined the house band. This jam continued for years, with many well-known musicians and through different owners, remodels and name changes.
In 1995, during the time it was called The Grand, J.C. formed the first band to bear his name and entered the Iowa Blues Challenge. They used the first place prize package to begin recording their CD of original work Long Time Waiting. This release included songwriting by J.C., his wife Madalyn, and longtime bandmate Doug Johnson. Released on the Hot Fudge label, it received excellent reviews by publications such as Blues Revue.
The club changed hands again and Blues on Grand continued the Thursday night jam tradition. During the most active years, J.C. played an average of 150 shows a year, mostly in Iowa. The band opened for many touring national acts.
Over the years, many musicians played for the first time on stage with J.C. Jams continue in other clubs in the city and remain an important place for musicians to meet. Numerous bands (including several of J.C.’s) have been formed from the networks they support.
J.C. continues to play with his band and other friends around central Iowa.