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The Rockin' Jake Band

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In New Orleans, a city that's as fond of its blues music as it is of its partying, Rockin' Jake has made a grand impression with his sizzling harmonica playing. Offbeat Magazine twice honored him with its Best of the Beat Award for Best Blues Harmonica, the first time in 1996 and the second three years later. The musician, who was born Jake Jacobs, was inspired early in life by blues harpist Little Walter. His band made its first professional appearance in 1995 during the city's Mardi Gras celebration at a spot that today is called the House of the Rising Sun, but years ago the building started out as a Bourbon Street house of ill repute. Through the following years, Rockin' Jake and his band have built up a loyal following. They have backed such artists as Tab Benoit, Guitar Slim, and Billy Boy Arnold, as well as poet John Sinclair. In addition, they have opened for the Neville Brothers, Junior Walker & the All-Stars, Dr. John, and Branford Marsalis. One year after pulling the band together, the harmonica player put out his debut album, Let's Go Get 'Em, through Rabadash Records. By 1999, the musician was running his new company, Zuluzu Records. That same year he released his second album, Badmouth, and embarked on tours of Germany and St. Thomas, with stops in the U.S. in New England, Texas, and Florida. His shows were frequently sold out. Early in his career during the 1980s, he spent a long period touring with singer Maria Muldaur. More work followed with blues vocalist Marva Wright, a New Orleans native. During the 1990s, he worked again with Muldaur, as well as with Crescent City greats Tommy Ridgley, Eddie Bo, and Oliver Morgan. In addition, he toured with T.J. Wheeler and G. Love & Special Sauce. Following the release of his first CD, the harmonica player traveled to festivals and nightspots at home and abroad, including the Caribbean and Scandinavia. His credits include work in commercials and the soundtracks for television's The Mike Ditka Show and The Big Easy. The musician's awards include an honor earned for one of his non-musical talents, although it's equally as fiery. He trounced his rivals in the New Orleans Musicians Barbeque Competition and won the 1999 prize for Best Barbequed Brisket. Capitalizing on the trophy, he went on to market a hot sauce that he named after one of his albums, Badmouth. His band includes Coco Robichaux, Brint Anderson, and Mem Shannon. ~ Linda Seida