April 19th 2005
The Lion's Roar
Hammond, LA campus newspaper
Singer-songwriter performs in Hammond
article by: Renee Allemand

Marrero-based singer-songwriter Jack Locke may be a new addition to the Hammond coffeehouse scene, but his folksy, intelligent music draws its inspiration from familiar surroundings.

Steeped in the weary attitude of a jaded college graduate, Locke’s pointed, allusion-filled lyrics accompany guitar work that is sometimes soothing and sometimes jarring, like a healthy shot of espresso. He’s lent this attitude to a total of four self-produced albums.

“A fair amount of my stuff tends toward the themes of either ‘dead romance’ or ‘being dirt poor,’ although it’s more apparent in some songs than others,” said Locke.

Having performed for years at coffeehouses and clubs in New Orleans with various groups of musicians, Locke’s going it alone this time. He’s using his deep, heavy-metal tinged voice over an acoustic guitar to breathe life into original songs he’s penned. Locke’s repertoire includes acoustic rock, speed metal, funk and soul, and his songs draw from these abilities.

During his last Green Bean performance, Locke amusingly prefaced “Plastic Bag Rag,” which extols the pitfalls of working in retail.

“I wrote this when I worked at the Dollar Tree,” he said. “If you don’t know what that is, I envy you.”

“Down on My Luck,” “a stupid song [Locke] wrote when [he] was 21,” carries the same message: “Just got paid work by the hour / Minimum wage tax on the dollar / One month’s worth barely cleared 400 / Yeah I’m down on my luck.”

But don’t think Locke’s just sore about working for minimum wage.

While some songs are pointed, others consist of stream of consciousness musings that work best if one tries not to understand them. In “Chemical Soul,” Locke sings: “Chest pains dead brains lost gains / Half the periodic table running through my veins / Plastic cups tipped over bad story of the week / Statutory cradle thief a purple ink leak.”

They’re lyrics any self-respecting art, music or English major would find interesting, if only for poetic value. Many songs have literary allusions thrown in as well.

Locke’s major influences include groundbreakers like Bob Dylan and Beck, so it’s not unusual for his music to follow different formulas than what’s on the radio. For many songs, Locke throws out the usual succession of verse / chorus / verse to build grinding, almost unnervingly energetic songs that climax toward the end.

Locke said his songwriting formula matches his own creative output much more than it would any industry standard.

“I’ve found the tastes you have to acquire typically end up being the most enjoyable and preferable once you do,” Locke admitted. “Whether that translates over to my music or not doesn’t really matter. I enjoy playing and writing, and I make enough to keep doing it, which works fine for me.”

In the works for Locke is a video for his song “Molotov Cocktail” and more headlining dates at Keystone’s in Metairie and Checkpoint Charlie and Fair Grinds Coffeehouse in New Orleans.

Jack Locke is scheduled to bring his brand of acoustic storytelling to the Green Bean Coffee Bar on North Oak Street at 9 p.m. Friday. For more information, visit www.jacklocke.com.

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