David Onderdonk began playing the guitar at the age of eight. Growing up in Evanston, IL, his early interests included folk, blues, and rock music. In 1974 he was accepted into the classical guitar program at the University of Illinois in Urbana, IL. In addition to his classical studies (classes with Manuel Barrueco, Eliot Fisk, Eduardo Fernandez, and Turibio Santos), he also played in the U of I Jazz Big Band under John Garvey.
In 1976, David started his career as a classical guitarist. From 1978-1980 he gave concerts in Europe, Central and South America, and throughout the United States as a Modern Dance accompanist. He moved to Chicago in 1980 and began making connections in the Jazz community working in various Jazz clubs around the city including Andy’s, The Green Mill, and The Jazz Showcase.
Between 1984 and 1985 he released two albums on Quaver Records (“Close Call” & “Lookout”). This was followed tours of the Midwest in support of those albums. In 1993 he and drummer Mark Walker released “Loose Contact” (an album of original music) on Southport Records. This CD received a four star review in Downbeat Magazine. In 1996 he was a featured guitarist in JAZZIZ magazine for their “Guitars on Fire” issue. His studio recording work includes CD’s, TV jingles, documentaries (A&E with Bill Kurtis), and a movie soundtrack (“Off The Map”). In 2005 he released an album of Renaissance guitar music as an independent project.
He has played and/or recorded with Michael Feinstein, Kurt Elling (three Grammy nominated albums), The Lakeside Singers, Megon McDonough, Terry Callier, Grazyna Auguscik, Fareed Haque, Fred Simon, and Marlene Rosenberg. He has also appeared on recordings with Pharoah Sanders, Mavis Staples, Cassandra Wilson, Mike Stern, Howard Levy, Paul Wertico, and Paul McCandless among others. He is currently a member of the Chicago Jazz Composers Collective.
An instructor for over thirty years, David currently teaches privately in his own studio, The Music Institute of Chicago, Interlochen Summer Arts Camp, and Studio North Academy. Past teaching credits include Columbia College, Roosevelt University, and The Old Town School of Folk Music. He previously served as Interim Instructor of Guitar at Interlochen Arts Academy for the 2015-2016 school year.