JAKE LA BOTZ
Jake La Botz’s story seems entirely too cinematic to be true – a film with shades of Merle Haggard and Tom Waits and Charles Bukowski and Mark Twain and Sid Vicious and David “Honeyboy” Edwards and Jim Jarmusch and Boxcar Bertha and Jack Kerouac all wrapped into one. And all of these experiences play into his new album Sunnyside, out now on Hi Style Records, a record that shows that his imagistic songwriting, storytelling range, and recounting of his experiences are just as deep as the aforementioned list of greats.
A juvenile delinquent in the early ‘80s discovering punk music and drifting. A high school dropout who works odd jobs. A subways and street busker taken under the wing of grizzled, wise bluesmen in Chicago. Avid reader who charts a self-education in a public library while falling under the spell of music, tattoos, sunshine, cheap motels, and drug addiction in southern California. Film actor. Gospel musician in all-black church. Buddhist. Meditation teacher. Then, through innumerable gigs with his Chet Baker looks and his large-bodied guitar, he finds friends and admirers in J.D. McPherson and a whole new crop of Americana musicians in his new abode in Nashville.
Musically sprouted from the blend of American folk, country, rock-n-roll, and blues, Erik Koskinen and his top-shelf band realize a sound that is distinctive and fresh while familiar and classic. Koskinen’s albums are a lyrical and musical metaphor of American’s theaters of war, of history, of relationships, and of the reflections in the mirror. Knowing but not didactic, Koskinen channels the ways of Whitman and reverently enters the anthology of uniquely crafted wry songs with the likes of Woody Guthrie and Ry Cooder while speaking as plainly as your neighbor.