Jake La Botz (LA Special)
March 15, 2008 | Author: Greg Phillips
At the recommendation of the barman, I hung around after my meal at LA’s Redwood Bar and Grill to hear the night’s entertainment, Jake La Botz. So glad I did.
If a singer songwriter is to truly touch us, he or she firstly needs to have a story to tell and ultimately the goods to deliver it. The Jake La Botz tale is as colourful as any and he sings and plays guitar with a passion and purpose to match. This is how Jake’s story begins. As a toddler La Botz never knew his mother, but his truck driving, some-time journalist father took him to Chicago, which turned out to be a pivotal moment in his life. In Chicago, where his father got a job as the only white reporter at the black newspaper, the Daily Defender, La Botz was exposed to a myriad of cultures and characters. Later as an adolescent Jake soaked up the sounds of the last of the remaining Chicago bluesmen. He would busk in the Chicago subways and eventually met some of the town’s legendary blues figures.
“Chicago is a great city if you are into blues and I was obsessed with pre war era 20s and 30s blues,” Jake recalls. “As a teenager, there were still a few guys playing that sort of music around town. There was this old guy, David Honeyboy Edwards, who is now called the last of the Delta bluesman. He was Robert Johnston’s good buddy and they travelled together. He played with all the great guys in the thirties. He was still playing in that old time style. So I got to be his friend and also a couple of other guys, Homesick James, Maxwell St. Jimmy Davis.”
Looking to make something of his life, the misfit La Botz enrolled into a fine arts program in the eighties where he studied acting. However punk rock hit town and La Botz felt the same sort of connection with punk as he had found with the old blues guys. At 15 the free spirited Jake packed his bags, stole a car and headed off on a quest to find whatever the wind blew his way. That didn’t pan out and he eventually ended up back in Chicago playin’ the blues.
Eleven years ago he headed to LA with a bad dope habit in tact. Luckily some new found friends encouraged La Botz to take his music more seriously. He began playing small bars, which by fortune were inhabited by influential movie industry folk. La Botz suddenly found himself attracting small movie roles, which lead to larger bit parts including a role in Steve Buscemi’s film ‘Animal Factory’.
Fast forward to 2008 and in a few days time La Botz will be seen in Sylvester Stallone’s new movie ‘Rambo’. La Botz plays the part of a mercenary and sings two songs off his new album ‘Graveyard Jones’. Jake has also made many new friends in the music industry including Guns n’ Roses’ Slash. La Botz now has a few albums under his belt and continues to do things against the grain. Fed up with the lack of record company interest, La Botz decided to forge his own path to an audience. With his performance in Buscemi’s prison flick, he’d earned himself respect among the American tattoo fraternity and it was here that Jake realised he’d made a real connection. “I just thought, why wait for somebody to green light you to do something,” says La Botz. “You start to build up a fan base and at some point you have to respect that. I gotta go out to these people, some way. If I own a car and a guitar, then I got no excuse. So I thought OK, I just have to find somewhere to play. I was known around the tattoo world partly because of that movie and partly from having a lot of friends in the tattoo world. So I thought, why not play tattoo shops. They are creative people. They love music. It’s a lucrative business, they can afford to hire a guy to come in and .. it hit .. it took off.”
La Botz will make a new album this year and aim to get to Europe again where he has developed a small fan base he can play to. Jake may also do a tattoo shop tour while he’s there. Two days after I left the USA Jake was due to play a club gig with mentor Honeyboy Edwards . Edwards is now in his nineties. For the time being, La Botz can still be seen playing small LA bars such as the Redwood, but I suspect it won’t be too long before the world discovers Jake La Botz.
The album ‘Graveyard Jones’ is available via Jake’s website: www.jakelabotz.com