Mississippi Jake, a southerner by birth and tradition, is an artist that has found his way up to the stoic Midwest with a style and creative lyricism best enjoyed with a whiskey in hand and a cigarette tucked behind the ear. He has released a four-track EP in 2018 called “Foolish Dreamers”, which blends together the pastoral, blue-collar and nomadic ideas that harken back to an earlier age of Americana. Far from simply an amalgamation of the his influences, Mississippi Jake is a historian with his music representing an audial quilt patched together with nostalgia, romanticism, and the freedom of knowing there is no place in particular you are trying to go.
BuzzMusic is proud to present a single by Mississippi Jake, “Confluence”. The song begins with the humble acoustic guitar, and slows into a heartwarming groove. There is such an immediate feeling of traditional country and folk music with the use of guitar, bass and banjo. Each chorus is such a welcoming return to something that seems so comfortingly familiar. Mississippi Jake’s vocals are inviting and poetic. The uplifting female backup vocals perfectly complement the grounded male vocals. In an era with so much emphasis placed on production and mixing, this was a refreshing song to listen to. There is such raw energy and sincerity that permeates through every lyric and every chord--"Confluence" is not a song to miss out on, that's for sure.
Check out "Confluence" and scroll below for Mississippi Jake's exclusive BuzzMusic interview!
Thanks for chatting with us! Would you mind describing your background and how you got involved with music?
I grew up in the Ozarks of southern Missouri. Every time the church doors were open, you can bet I was in the pews. The hymns were the most redeeming aspect of the whole situation. Hymns and southern gospel music first gave me the bug. One day I asked my grandma "who do you do that?" and pointed at the guitar in the corner. Little did she know that I'd take the chords she showed me and play punk rock a few years later. In high school I found punk. It was mohawks and distortion through my mid-twenties. I briefly laid down the music world to start my education. By the second year of grad school, I knew I was missing something. I started writing songs based on my experiences in the hills and on the punk rock roads. As a Missourian, most of my literature classes were top heavy with Mark Twain. His writing and the mystery of the Mississippi River inspired the Mississippi Jake stage name. Over the last two years, it's been my full-time gig.
Your single, “Confluence”, sounds great. Was there a particular meaning or message behind the music here?
Confluence was a weird battle to write. Parts of the chorus have been sitting in a notebook of mine for about a decade. I never could finish the tune, try as I might every few months. While driving back from a history conference in Chattanooga, I stopped at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio. I took about three hours to myself and took in as many details as possible. As I began a tune about those moments, the chorus from years before started playing in my head. For me, traveling and troubadour life has always felt the most comfortable for me. When I think of a final resting place, the most logic would be on any given midwest high way.
How would you describe your creative process when writing music?
I'm pretty systematic. Most songs start with a phrase or descriptive setting. Then I throw a few chords together that seem to fit the tone of the lyrics. I don't claim a lot of knowledge in the guitar playing department. I like to leave the songs open for other folks who play with me. I've got some ridiculously talented folks between my two bands The Bootleggers Orchestra and The Ghosts. The whole process typically takes about two weeks, with a few drastic outliers here and there.
Who would you say your biggest musical influences are?
When I began to understand how important music was to me was the same time I found Rancid. Finding music was hard in rural Missouri. The aggression, but also hope, in their lyrics, sold me immediately. My love of hopeful and honest lyrics lead back to my roots with Woody Guthrie and bluegrass tunes from the hills. Tom Waits will always be a huge influence for me. His way of storytelling fascinates me. Folks like Chuck Ragan, Dave Hause, The Menzingers, Red City Radio, Gregory Alan Isakov, and Gaslight Anthem frequent me on my long drives. They all play some part in the things I create.
What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
I like to have about four more irons in the fire than what is physically possible. Musically, I plan to put out two albums in 2019. One with The Ghosts (Rock and Roll) and on with The Bootleggers Orchestra (Folk/bluegrass.) I've got solo shows from Kentucky to New Mexico to Wyoming and back. If I can squeak some time in, I have a couple of video and podcast projects I hope to announce soon.
Connect with Mississippi Jake via the artists website and socials: