“I think that’s natural, but you’ve just got to make records you believe in”
This week’s spotlight brings the feature back home and reminds us that homegrown talent still exists and can sometimes and only sometimes be the inspiration to the youth of a generation. It’s rare to encounter a gifted musician and a truly exciting guitar player with personality all in one. 🤘
Here we have a player that takes us back to a golden era with remnants of the British invasion along with a belief and attitude that is both fearless and pleasantly optimistic.
A working class hero hailing from the shadows of Nottingham this self-taught guitar player is also an incredible singer and an inspirational songwriter to the youth of a generation.
A living, breathing example of British rock ‘n’ roll is still very much alive and kicking, you’ve just gotta be ready for the storm to unfold.
Ladies and gentlemen just like a lightning bolt ⚡️
Mr Jake Bugg. 🎸
A Modern Folk Legend 🎼
Nottingham, Nottinghamshire is famous for many things rich in historical content; when we think of this place a number of things come to mind but one character that brings Nottinghamshire global recognition is… the tale of Robin Hood 🏹 .
However, on the 28th February 1994 a new inspiration for a modern generation with a resurgence of old school rock ‘n’ roll, folk, Country, blues and modern pop was born – Jake Edwin Charles Kennedy.
Jake was born to musical parents who had both previously been involved in projects and recordings back when; he grew up on Clifton council estate in Nottingham, a straight up salt of the Earth working-class area.
His father worked as a nurse and his mother worked in sales; unfortunately his parents separated when he was young, something more common in the modern age but a key feature to Jake’s drive, ambition, and observational method in songwriting.
He was introduced to the guitar at the age of 12 by his uncle and almost purely by chance.
“What’s your history with the guitar? How did you get started?
Well I came back from football training when I was about twelve, and my uncle was there with a three quarter steel string acoustic guitar, and I learned the basics on that. I went on to buy a Fender Squire acoustic full size, and then a Yamaha acoustic which was great. I always wanted a Martin 000-15SM, that was my dream guitar, and then when I got signed I went out and got it, which was amazing for me.”
Jake Bugg interview for Guitar.com
Once Jake had caught the “Bugg” 😉 he was really focused on the idea of music or nothing, like many of us were back at that tender age.
He has described a formative musical moment when, aged 12, he heard Don McLean’s “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)” on an episode of The Simpsons. He was enrolled in a music technology course but, by the age of 16, he had dropped out and was writing and performing his own songs.
Influences were quickly absorbed and the vast nature of his eclectic taste was both fascinating and individually contemporary.
“If I wasn’t doing music, I have no idea what I’d be doing,” he said. “I didn’t like school. My mum was on her own and times were pretty hard for a while. It made me work harder I suppose. I was fortunate though, I did some demos and someone from Mercury Records got a train up to see me and took a chance. I remember thinking, ‘This is where it starts. You can’t get complacent.’”
Jake Bugg for vogue.co.uk
In classic modern day approach Jake uploaded some songs he had written onto the BBC Introducing website on a whim. To his surprise he received an email from the DJ saying they were going to play his song on the radio and then as events rolled on he was invited to play Glastonbury at the age of 16!
The stuff that dreams are made for real musicians in the modern world which feels like you’re last on the list with the option of thousands of great budding young musicians.
In a sterile world of TV talent shows and countless online influencers the organic form feels lost but not for Jake…
“Unlike his mates, who were into hip hop and grime, Bugg began exploring rock’s back pages. “I started getting into the Beatles, Dylan and Hendrix.” Seeing cousins in bands made him think that was something he wanted to do too. Did he ever think about auditioning for a talent show? “At school people would say I should go on Britain’s Got Talent, but I would never have done that because it doesn’t seem genuine, it doesn’t feel natural.”
Jake Bugg Interview for theguardian.com
Song Crafter & Guitar Grafter 🎸
The first release by any artist is always deemed the benchmark and the introduction to a journey. Jake Bugg’s first release really did hit the awaiting audience right between the eyes with no apologies!
The single would quickly become an indie favourite and the song skyrocketed Jake in the music industry at a fast pace as it became adopted as part of the Olympics theme.
“The new single, Lightning Bolt – selected by Zane Lowe as a record of the week – sounds reminiscent of the White Stripes. Trouble Town – his first single – was an autobiographical glimpse into life on a council estate. “Stuck in speed-bump city where the only thing that’s pretty is the thought of getting out,” he sings, over a driving, rustic acoustic melody. “There’s a tower block overhead, all you’ve got is your benefits and you’re barely scraping by.”
Given his musical tastes and the old-fashioned – in the best sense – nature of his music, I wondered if Jake Bugg felt he was living in the wrong decade. “Yeah, I would love to have been born in the 60s,” he says. Then he smiles, and adds: “But I’m here now.”
Artist quote via theguardian.com
“That song took me about five minutes to write,” he said. “I was waiting for a taxi and I just started playing a few chords. It felt pretty fresh, but you never know what people are going to think of it.”
Jake Bugg – vogue.co.uk
Jake Bugg quickly became the name on the scene and he was here, there and everywhere, coveted and adored by the youth and quickly respected by other musicians in the industry.
His honest, raw and unapologetic songwriting resonated with the masses, the working class can spot any wince of unauthentic scripture, Jake was one of their own and quickly swept through the music industry just like the lightning bolt ⚡️ he described.
Tales of wisdom, tales of truth presented by an established mind and a seriously underrated guitar player mature beyond his years.
“IT’S EASY TO GET AN EGO, BUT I’VE CHUCKED THAT IN THE BIN”
As well as being a spokesman for a generation Jake Bugg is also heralded as a modern day guitar hero for a youthful generation. His guitar playing and style is truly fascinating and massively underrated; when you actually observe what he is doing closely it’s very individual, complex, and built around classical timeless approaches with a combination of techniques.
This is demonstrated clearly here in this interview for noisey.com:
“An underrated player with a thirst for learning, Bugg soon started developing an intricate fingerpicking technique. “It was a natural thing,” he says. “I was listening to a lot of folk, people like Don McLean and Donovan, and I was curious how they sounded like two guitars – bass and melody at the same time. I started fingerpicking at 13, very simply, and then learning more patterns and progressions as time went on. I’m starting to do a little more classical and bossa nova now, trying to use that third finger on the right hand a bit more.”
Jake Bugg interview for Guitar.com
Hardworking Hard Hitting Strings
As open as Jake is in many interviews in regards to his songwriting approach and his guitar playing it’s been hard to pin down the reasons for his string choice.
We can only presume that he relies on Jim Dunlop both strings and products due to their incredible quality and durability along with the fact that their strings are really bold and punchy sounding.
From personal experience I can definitely vouch that Jim Dunlop nickel wound strings have a serious amount of punch and depth, more so than other strings in the same gauge or the same material.
This would make sense and lend itself towards Jake Bugg’s aggressive and hard-hitting approach, he utilises a lot of light and soft dynamics along with right hand muting and passing percussive passages.
The acoustic string choice is also a mystery … 🤔 We can only presume Jim Dunlop is being used, again the strings would suit his sound and technique for all the mentioned above, strong, bold, punchy and depth of sound but most of all durability and reliability from a great manufacturer such as Jim Dunlop. 🤘
“Jim Dunlop Performance+ electric strings are manufactured at their factory HQ in Benicia, California. With 50 years of experience and a developed understanding of a guitar players’ needs, Dunlop has a produced a string that sings with tone and plays with perfect tension and flexibility. As a guitarist, you want a string that feels comfortable to play but delivers power and nuance, Jim Dunlop Performance+ strings are your new string. Trust me.
A word from Jim Dunlop:
“As with everything we make, we started from scratch and designed Dunlop Strings from the ground up to fit our vision of what a string should be. Each of our formulas is developed with on-the-road feedback from some of the greatest players in the world. At our headquarters in Benicia, California, we take a hands-on approach, running our machines at a slower pace and producing smaller batches, which allows us much more control at every step of the process. We also seal them in a protective bag for freshness and longevity. Every set of Dunlop Strings is the result of our obsession with details, which is ultimately an obsession with quality, consistency, and serving your needs as a player.”
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