Introducing Jack Hadley!

Welcome to 'Up In't Smokes' Featured Artist from 'Over't Pond'


This article is continued from our FaceBook page @upintsmokeuk.


2) Have you ever had any formal lessons on playing Guitar or singing?


I took lessons for a couple of weeks early on after I had played for a while. I wasn’t serious about music until about 10 years ago. The lessons didn’t really help me. I have learned by ear, still do. And I also watched people playing guitar on television. For some reason I paid a lot of attention to fingerpickers, folk/jazz/whatever. This has stayed with me to this day. I incorporate fingerpicking with using a pick, back and forth.


As far as singing goes, I always sang. I wasn’t very good for the most part but I stayed with it. I tried to sing lead and as I played in other bands I sang backup quite a bit. I still dig harmony singing. I found my voice a few years ago and I realize now that the human voice is the ultimate instrument. It’s more important than playing the guitar, in my opinion. It connects with people on a deeper level. 

3)   Was it just listening to music that pushed you to want to become a performer?


My mother bought me my first guitar to keep me busy. I come from a military family so my Dad was gone quite a bit. I think my mother had good intentions. I don’t know if I said anything to her, like this is what I needed. Maybe she just knew. Anyway, that was my start. Later on - like many guys – the motivation was girls (ha!) You know how men are always trying to impress the ladies. Of course, I’m in it now for the sake of the music. I want to play what’s on my mind, the way I want to do it. I want to keep learning, keep writing and do well. And I hope people accept the music.


4)     Rumour has it that you won an award for your skills as a musician, can you tell our readers exactly               what this award was for and how it made you feel?


I competed in the Colorado Blues Challenge this year. This is the regional contest that all Blues Societies have each year (blues societies are affiliates of the Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennesse. I’m an ex-board member of the Colorado Blues Society). I competed in the solo/duo category and also in the band category. I won the solo/duo slot. I will be competing in Memphis from January 16-20, 2018 at the International Blues Competition.


It was a great feeling to win this award. Any validation you receive as an artist is overwhelming and you don’t realize until it happens to you. It made me feel like there was some understanding of what I’m doing. Someone gets it. I have my own vision of the blues, with roots in some of the traditional blues styles but with my own twist.


5)   Jimi Hendrix is a major influence in your music, what is it about Hendrix that you find so compelling?


First of all, there was no one like Hendrix. The influence of Jimi Hendrix as a person and musician still hangs in the air for me. I grew up listening to many of the same bands my friends listened to, especially rock bands. There were very few Black guitarists and I identified with him in that way, too. The sonic force of his playing was incredible, and his open style, ferocious and free. To me, it was like he had no boundaries. In fact, one my favourite songs by Hendrix is “Freedom.”



6)    You're quite active over the pond (in America) do you have plans to come over to the UK to play                any gigs?


I’m working on some things now and I hope to have something to report in the next few months. I have performed in the UK before. I was the lead guitaris for Otis Taylor for a brief period. I have played live on the BBC in London, and performed at shows in Leeds, Bristol, Newcastle, Leicester and Brighton. We did some shows in Wales, too. I played at the Rauma Blues Festival in 2013 under my own name for the first time. I’d love to get back to the UK. People seemed to be very knowledgeable about the blues and enthusiastic about American roots music in general.


7)    I know we said we'd avoid politics, but I can't resist! what're your opinions on how politics shaped                   Blues music both in the past and modern times? Mainly in the USA but also over here in the UK?


In America, I feel that the blues was co-opted many years ago. It was presented as rock music to the general public. Before that, real blues was relegated to folk festivals (in the 60’s) and jook joints and clubs (all through the early 20th century). “Race Music” is a term created to describe music by and for Black people. Americans at the time continued to reinforce a segregated way of life. Anything creative that was associated with Black people has always been historically regarded as bad for society. Blues was the “devil’s music” and jazz is “wrong notes.” That kind of thinking. So politically I always think of real blues as the music of life, the good and the bad, the joy and pain, all mixed together. When you think about country music is the same way, the same issues. But at it’s root, at least for people of color, what became known as the blues was about the struggle to overcome oppression.


In modern times the issue is ownership of the blues and, unfortunately, race. The phrase “Not Black, Not White, Just Blues” doesn’t make sense to me. In my opinion, it is Black music. It seems like that phrase was created by someone who was interested in relegating the roots of this music to the back burner. We can’t talk about it because it makes people uncomfortable, therefore just STFU about it. Obviously, everyone who plays blues (or believes they are playing blues) has their own approach. The politics of the time, since the 60’s, has been the promotion of blues-rock over other forms of blues. I have played at lots of festivals and shows, across the country, Canada and some in the UK. In this country, most performers at blues festivals are not Black. This is just the way it is. And I can tell you that Black performers notice it. Many of them don’t talk about because they don’t want the repercussions, the blowback of being labeled a troublemaker or “militant.” I have had conversations with a few of them.


Since I’m an American I can only comment from my perspective here in this country. The sense among blues musicians that I’ve met (and I’ve read this, too) is that Europeans have a different perspective about roots music. I assume this is one of the reasons so many blues and jazz artists have historically been drawn to performing outside of the U.S. They are appreciated in a way that is elusive in their own country.



8)    How was it growing up in Denver, Colorado and what was the local music scene like over there?


My family came out here from San Francisco. That was a different time and place, musically and culturally. Overall, I think Denver is more of a rock environment. But I played lots of different kinds of music: folk, rock’n roll, R&B, fusion and lots more. Colorado is an easy-going place in general, and I have always enjoyed playing different kinds of music with the musicians I’ve met here. There are some great players based in Colorado. Taj Mahal’s bassist, Bill Rich, lives a couple of blocks from my Dad’s old house in Denver. Joe Cocker lived in Edwards, Colorado for quite a while. And there was a famous recording studio outside of Boulder called Caribou Ranch where Elton John, Earth, Wind & Fire, Chicago and many other supergroups recorded.


My friends played everything from Yes and Santana to The Commodores and Chaka Khan and Rufus. The blues didn’t hit me until later. It wasn’t on my radar yet. It took some education and being open to new things on my part to realize what I had been missing all this time.


The local music scene has become bluegrass-centric over the past 15 years or so, at least in my neck of the woods (Boulder).


9)    A bit of a Guitarist fanatic question here: what set up do you use/like the most for when you're                   playing on stage?


Glad you asked! My first real guitar was a Fender Telecaster. I found out a few years ago it was a partscaster: a 63 body with a 59 neck. I sold just a couple of years ago for the usual musicians reason: I needed the money.

Guitars: 1) A Collings electric (kind of a prototype). Archtop, like a PRS-style guitar, with a mini-humbucker and a P90. 2) A K-Line Strat. This guitar is made by a St. Louis-based luthier named Chris Kroenlein. He makes his versions of all the classics. A tremendous guitar. Alder body, rosewood neck, Lollar pickups. 3) A custom version of a Fender Thinline by Rich Pardun, a Colorado luthier. Lindy Fralin pickups. 4) My blue Craigslist special Tele. Found this on Craigslist a few years ago, project guitar by a luthier who just moved to town. Had it customized with Lindy Fralin pickups, a Strat-type switch with 5 different positions. 5) 2007 Epiphone Masterbilt acoustic guitar. 6) A 1935 Epiphone Olympic acoustic guitar. Being restored by Rich Pardun. Can’t wait to play this in a few weeks!

Amps: 1) Fender Supersonic, stock. 2) Dr. Z Carmen Ghia. 22 watts, 2 10” speakers 3) Vox Nighttrain combo amp, 18 watts.


Onstage I’m using the Dr. Z amp quite a bit. The Strat or one of the Tele’s most of the time. Minimal pedals. A Barber Small Fry Burn Unit and/or Guthrie Trapp Overdrive (both low-gain overdrive pedals, very transparent). Sometimes paired with a Carl Martin Hot Drivin’ boost (this has a Vox vibe to it. Tremendous two channel pedal, built like a tank). A delay pedal and tremolo pedal. That’s it.


10) Would you consider films like 'Crossroads' and 'The Blues Brothers' as major influences in modern             Blues? If so/ if not, Why?


        I don’t’ think so, for either movie. “Crossroads” was definitely not an influence. A light movie about           blues-rock. And “The Blues Brothers” maybe had a comedic influence on the blues. It brought                     some attention to some of the real musicians in the movie, no question. But the cultural influence         was more comedic than anything else. When I see guys wearing black suits, hats and shades I can’t             take them seriously. And I liked the movie!


11) I'm a massive fan of the Blues myself, and play a heavily modified Telecaster, do you think the                     Telecaster is a worthy icon for Blues throughout the world?


Hell, yes. The working man’s guitar. Every guitarist should have a Telecaster. I’ve seen old pictures of B.B. King with a Tele early in his career. I’m going to Memphis next January and I’m definitely bringing one of my Telecasters. I had a friend in high school, great musician, who played all kinds of music. And he only had one guitar: a Telecaster. He played through a Vox Royal Guardsman. He used to let me borrow his gear to play gigs. That’s how I got hooked. And I realized you really can play everything on a Tele!


12) How do you source inspiration for your original music? And do you prefer playing your own songs or           covers?


The source of my original material is life: my ups and downs, my family (‘Still Not My Home’), politics (‘You & Me’) and, of course, love. The older I get the more I’m surprised how often my family comes into the picture as a source of inspiration.


I like playing covers as well. The difference is your original music has a direct connection to you that cover songs don’t have. Songwriting is one of the most difficult things I do. I have so much respect for anyone who can write a good song. And it’s a process, too. You have to know when to separate a good song – a real song – from a bad or mediocre one. Don’t play something for the public just because you wrote it. You have to believe that it’s good and it has to move you first. Otherwise, you can’t sell the emotion to the people who listen to you.


13) Lastly, we'd like to know where we can find your gig listings/music to buy?


You can find me and music at

      My gigs and other information are usually current.



       Some VERY informative answers there from the great Jack Hadley!! 


       Thank you for reading! And as always, Tek' Care! ;-)

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