Playing the guitar is Jim Perona's lifelong passion and 10-year profession. Jim is one of the most performance-active guitarists in the Chicago-land area. Growing up as the youngest of 6 kids in a very musically inclined family, Jim’s earliest memories are of music, as well as his first words of “Who are you? Who who?” (taken from the The Who’s “Who Are You?”). After performing in rock bands & pit orchestras throughout his high school and early college years, Jim transitioned to classical guitar after hearing “Recuerdos de la Alhambra” for the first time (he couldn’t believe that it was just one guitarist performing the piece). Perona then dove headfirst into classical guitar lessons, studying privately for a year before beginning formal studies at Northern Illinois University under the tutelage of Fareed Haque. After graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree (Classical Guitar Performance) in 2008, Jim moved to Boston to begin his Master of Music studies with Eliot Fisk at the New England Conservatory of Music.
While helping Jim grow as a classical guitarist, Eliot also encouraged him to embrace his rock music roots and find a way to unite that part of his musical DNA with the performance intricacies of classical guitar. This served as the impetus for Perona’s musical career path - A practice approach consisting of transcribing contemporary music (1930’s – Current) for solo classical/fingerstyle guitar. Jim graduated from the New England Conservatory of Music in 2010 with a Master of Music (with Academic Honors), specializing in Guitar Performance.
Perona moved back to his hometown of Wheaton, IL and began pursuing a career in music performance. He continued to transcribe contemporary songs and growing that new category of his repertoire, while visiting, emailing & cold-calling various local establishments in an effort to book performances. During this time, Jim started advertising on various private event service websites in order to try and build a wedding performance business. With a repertoire that consisted of traditional wedding music, classical guitar staples and his growing list of contemporary arrangements, his wedding business started to gain momentum. His reputation began to grow locally as well, gaining various high-end recurring restaurant bookings and has since gone on to be the longest-tenured performer at some of them. By early 2013, Perona decided to go all-in on the wedding & private event performance business, and has booked over 200 performances a year since then.
Jim has now arranged over 200 songs for solo guitar and features them prominently in his performances. He regularly medleys multiple songs together at a time in a seamless fashion, making each performance unique and exciting. The classical guitar performance technique combined with the familiarity of the repertoire has made for exciting performances in a wide variety of different venues: high-end local restaurants, rock clubs, bars, corporate events, assisted living centers, memory care centers and many more. This performance act has also helped garner numerous awards, including TheKnot.com’s “Best of Weddings” (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019) & “Hall of Fame” awards, WeddingWire’s “Couple’s Choice” (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019) awards and Gigmaster’s “Top National Guitarist” award (2012, 2013). Jim has also been personally invited by John McDonough (Chicago Blackhawks President & CEO) to perform on multiple occasions for the Chicago Blackhawks organization at the United Center. In 2018, Jim was invited to perform and lecture at the Boston Guitar Festival (link to performance video here: Jim Perona LIVE at Boston GuitarFest 2018). The following year, Jim was invited to perform for the United Center Concert Club, serving as the pre-concert act to headliners Fleetwood Mac.
You can preview Jim Perona’s playing via his robust YouTube Channel, www.youtube.com/jimperonaguitar/playlists