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Local musician relates genesis of performance

Bemidji musician Jake Jackson plays guitar. He will perform from 9 p.m.-midnight tonight at Brigid's Irish Pub and Restaurant. Pioneer Photo/Patt Rall

Jake (Jacob Lee) Jackson knew early on, as he played the "spatula guitar" to his father's, music, that his future lay in music and performing.

In reality, Jake cannot think of a time when he wasn't thinking of music. His dad and mom both work for Paul Bunyan Broadcasting. Kevin can be heard on KZY-FM doing the morning show and Nicole meets and greets at the front desk in the downtown office and studio.

Friends and fans will be able to hear Jake playing acoustic guitar with Greg Gaston on drums and Gary Broste on bass when they jam from 9 p.m. to midnight today, Dec. 17, at Brigid's Cross Irish Pub and Restaurant, 317 Beltrami Ave. N.W.

"My parents started me on piano lessons when I was quite young," Jake said. "My dad actually was my first piano teacher, and we had an old upright piano in the house. I was stubborn, and so they got me another teacher, Gretchen Hazard, and she taught me for a few years. My parents got me started on saxophone and violin in the sixth grade, and I stuck with saxophone all the way through high school. But once I started listening to rock music, I wanted to play guitar. For my eighth grade Christmas, my parents gave me an electric guitar. It had a little amplifier with lots of feedback, and I just wanted to sit in my room and jam.

"Way back in middle school," Jake said, "I started to play guitar in a friend's band, and in my freshman year of high school, they needed a bass player so I started playing bass."

Jake graduated from Bemidji High School in 2006 and attended Bemidji State University for two years. He talks about some of his music teachers at BSU such as Patrick Riley, who plays bass in a local jazz ensemble. When Jack played saxophone in the jazz band for a year, he said John Konecne gave him many opportunities. Jake also mentioned Greg Gaston, who teaches the History of Rock and Roll and music technology.

Jake went on to explain how Jazz Improvisation is learning how to phrase extended solos so that they don't sound as if the musician is just playing random notes. Jake bases his ability on his studies at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he transferred after two years at BSU. Berklee accepts students who wish to study more contemporary music, whereas most colleges are more conservative focused with classical music. Berklee is all jazz studies and "louder" music, Jake explained.

"I chose to study electric bass performance," he said. "There are so many guitar players at Berklee, in fact it is flooded with guitar players because the school accepts students with potential, but a lot of them don't last more than a year."

He said the faculty works students hard.

"They're not real forgiving. If you don't finish a project, well that's it," he said. "They weed out a lot of the kids. The dropout rate is high, well over 50 percent."

He said he spent a long time playing along with records.

"And now I can play with folks who are on the same page, have the same ideas as far as 'improv' goes," said Jake when talking about tonight's show with Gaston and Broste. "You have to work at it, that's for sure, but it's really fun. The nice thing about Greg and Gary is that we can just do it and go. We don't have to talk and it's different every time, and that's why it's so much fun."

On Wednesday, the group recorded a CD at Mike Naylor's studio, "Max Bugsey." They did six tracks, a Christmas album especially for tonight's show.

They will play some original tunes by Jackson and a whole Christmas set with a little bit of jazz and folk music in the style of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan.

In late January, Jake and his band, "Jackson Boom," are moving to Ventura, Calif., just north of Los Angeles to follow other Berklee friends who are already playing in the area and as far south as San Diego.

"It's been a collective dream to do the Hollywood thing and make it happen, and now's the time to do it," Jake said. "It would be awesome to make it big but if we could just make a living making music; that would be terrific. The 'pie in the sky' thing would be the Grammys, MTV and all that."

"Jackson Boom" will perform here before the move to California. The other members of the band will stop in Bemidji to pick up Jake, and they will put together a show here that Jake promises will be "raging." The other members of the group are bass player Andrew Conn from northern California and drummer Josh Risotto from upstate New York. They met during their first week of classes at Berklee and have stayed together.