Happy New Year from “Un-Block the Music”! Thanks to all of you who have made and continue to make this blog fun, exciting, hopefully informational and different from any thing that is out there! In the crazy world we live in, music helps keep out sanity. That is why, my first interview of 2020 is so special! I had the opportunity this week to talk with Jake Clemons, not only about his upcoming show in New York, but about the timeliness and importance of his album “Eyes On The Horizon.”
Yes….Jake is the nephew of Clarence Clemons, the famed and beloved saxophonist from Bruce Springsteen’s E Street band. And, yes Jake has played with Bruce too! HOWEVER, this album is all his own. As my readers know, I have written extensively about record producers and engineers in my career, and on this album, Jake worked with Eddie Kramer, one of my all-time favorites. He has worked with Hendrix, Zeppelin, The Beatles, the list goes on. And, aside from the musicality of this album, Jake’s message is both eager and confident, so important during this tumultuous time in America.
“Eyes On The Horizon” was released this past fall with the first single, “Democracy”; Jake’s interpretation of the Leonard Cohen classic (can you believe Leonard Cohen comes up again in my interviewing? You know what I mean if you read the blog regularly). And, the second single is “Consumption Town” featuring another legend, guitarist Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine).
“Un-Block The Music’s” interview comes this week from Montreal, a city, Jake says, is still great for live music. In the last few years, Jake has performed throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia, UK, Ireland, Europe, Mexico, South America and South Africa. This album, he says, “is really important and he is humbled by the reception it has received.”
Jake’s dad was a Marine Corps band director, and, he says, growing up in a military atmosphere gives you a unique perspective. “Everybody lives in the same community. No one is from there. There are different backgrounds, different accents, different religious beliefs, but there is the common thread of taking care of each other…it’s special.” In today’s world, Jake says, we are in danger of losing what makes us all human, “our empathy.” He hopes that his voice will be added to those seeking clarity in this complicated world.
Jake’s musical prowess came early after he saw the E Street Band play. “I watched my Uncle Clarence and told my dad I wanted to play sax. He said ‘that’s fine, but learn piano first’.” Good advice because Jake plays multiple instruments handling keyboards, guitar and sax on this record. “Un-Block The Music” is always interested in the songwriting process, and Jake is quite prolific. “I write a lot. It can be lyrical first, sometimes I hear a melody first, sometimes it all comes together. I don’t get a lot of writer’s block!” He started writing at the age of 11 or 12 sitting alongside his brother who encouraged him to be original! He told him people go to jail for copying, Jake laughs.
Jake’s official schooling started at The Governor’s School For The Arts in Norfolk, Virginia where you can get a conservatory education. “You go to high school for part of the day and then music school the rest of the day. I took jazz performance at school and I played with friends at bars and coffee shops.” As Jake says, he built a career the old school way. In the last decade he focused on his solo career much of the time, but he has also spent the last seven years as the tenor and baritone saxophonist with the E Street Band. And, that’s not all, Jake has played alongside The Roots and Paul McCartney to name just a few! Jakes loves the live playing experience. It’s about the “Chemistry and energy in the room,” which is different for fans who most of the time discover music online.
To see Jake and his band live, go to his website (http://jakeclemons.com/ ). If you are in New York, listen to “Eyes On The Horizon” and also Jake’s first album, “Fear + Love”, then catch his show at The Bowery Electric on January 9. For tickets, go to ( https://www.eventbrite.com/e/jake-clemons-e-street-band-tickets-85286968619).
“Over the course of the past two years or so (my) voice) has really started to emerge and the songs I’ve been writing feel more significant to me. …” Jake told “Un-Block The Music” that in creating this album he is “celebrating the hope for the future”.