December 1st 2002
Wizerk Dot Com
Jak Locke feature
article by: Jason Montalbano
Rollover Beethoven and drop dead Dylan, here comes Jak Locke. Ever heard of Fluxus Art? How about Anti-Folk?
This is a guy who can be Acid Bath and 60’s era Cream all on the same album, still keeping his very own style. Listening to Locke is like switching radio stations constantly, where variety is key. What do you expect from someone who has played guitar, bass, drums, piano, saxophone, clarinet, sousaphone and harmonica?
Some time back Locke took an interest in art. His favorite from the traditional forms, The Fluxus movement, is a form of performing arts focusing more on reactions of others than the performance alone. Folk artist Beck Hansen’s grandfather Al was famous for this particular form in the 60's. His interest in art does, of course, include music by all means.
Music began its influence in Locke’s life at an early age, 3, banging on the piano. He survived lessons for a short while before moving on and self-teaching himself the bass and then the guitar, inspired by his Uncle Roy’s guitar rhythms. In high school Locke was indeed the band nerd that is in every high school. It was then at the ripening age of 16 that Locke began to write and refine his music. Locke went on to college to earn a bachelor’s in government, but music was not merely a side project. For Nicholls’s Hippie Day, one of a number of college functions Locke performed for, he put together a band in a few short days to be able to perform, a band that evovled into his most reccent preforming funk/rock act, The One-Eyed Jacks.
Don’t get the wrong conclusion though, Locke is indeed a solo artist and like any good solo artist a backing band would be essential. Springsteen has the E Street Band and Locke, well; he had the Jacks. He now has a contstantly changing line up of talented musicians since the Jacks are nearing their final show. Unlike Springsteen though, Locke is a believer of Show. He gives you just that. He incorporates Fluxus art in his live concerts through state of mind and will probably never play the same song the same way or with the same instrumentation. He is a constantly evolving being. Songs he originally wrote as a rock tune may not be quite rock by the time you see a live show. It could possibly be country or folk, even almost classical, and vice versa, with songs originally writtten acoustical changing to rock stylings.
Locke feels his identity is no identity at all. No show is planned nor orchestrated in his mind to any finality. His voice can be manipulated to keep up with his wide range of genres and with a resume of instruments that long, he can pull it off efficiently well. Locke passionately states he could never and would never be an exact carbon copy of his albums. The drive behind the artist, the biggest thrill of being and doing what he does is the cause and effect relationship that Locke has with his audience. The "variety is key" ethic fits him well.
If we had to choose a style that is more or less Locke, which does not come close to the experience of him, it would be anti-folk. This goes against the principal of traditional folk music. Anti-folk is more of an anything goes type of music. He has no limits to the stylistic genre or lyrical content of his anti-folk songs. You could sing about the pizza you just ate or that time you took out frosty on your neighbor’s lawn because the cloud in your car obstructed your vision. Then there are the songs rife with historical and literary allusions, as well as stream-of-consciousness jaunts that create more of an atmosphere than a retelling of an experience. Get the idea? Some songs are just that, funny, others are more about imagery and depth.
The biggest misconception about Locke is that because he is a solo musician, he is just one more mealy mouthed artist. In other words those coffee house nerds with the bleeding hearts of ex-girlfriend burn. Locke is very far from the coffee house that rules those types of artist. Not long after this interview Locke will be making his hometown Thibodaux, but will still continue his shows everywhere possible. So if you hear of a Jak Locke in your town, or a town near you, you should meet the man of many faces. Locke is a different person, a different show.