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Jake La Botz

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A rip-roaring, Delta blues-inflected singer, guitar player, and songwriter, Jake La Botz was reportedly conceived while his parents were listening to an album by Texas bluesman Mance Lipscomb. Moving to Chicago as a small child with his father, a truck driver, union organizer, and journalist, La Botz discovered vintage blues and hillbilly music at the library as a teenager, and promptly dropped out of school (which may or may not have had anything to do with his discovery of the blues). He began to travel and see the country, working a succession of labor jobs, and somewhere along the way he learned how to play the guitar. Returning to Chicago, he began busking on street corners, mentoring with bluesmen like Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis and David "Honeyboy" Edwards, before leaving again on another round of travels, playing juke joints, blues clubs, and tattoo parlors. He also began a side career as an actor, appearing in Steve Buscemi's Animal Factory, where he was shown onscreen playing a couple of his songs. He went on to roles in a succession of films, including Lonesome Jim, Ghost World, Thirteen Moons, The Grey, and One Night with You, and had a recurring role in the TV series Gilmore Girls. He also found time to record several albums, including The Original Soundtrack to My Nightmare (2000), Used to Be (2002), All Soul and No Money (2004), Graveyard Jones (2006), and Sing This to Yourself and Other Suggestions for a Personal Apocalypse (2008). Fascinated by tattoos, each year La Botz mounts a self-booked tour of American tattoo parlors, providing the perfect backdrop for his visceral musical vision, which draws heavily on the Delta blues and is delivered in a riveting, Tom Waits-like rasp and growl. ~ Steve Leggett

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