Part of the joy that comes with being a music writer is the joy of discovering the best new bands and musicians. It happens when you least expect it. That’s how I was introduced to Jake Bugg.
While the 19-year-old troubadour has been making headlines in his native England. Until recently, he was barely noticed in the States, outside of teenaged girls who are fans of One Direction. Why would this happen? Well, taking cues from someone who knows a thing or two about feuds and a lad he opened for, Noel Gallagher, Bugg has called the boy band terrible, which has earned him scorn from said fans, and praise from pretty much everyone else. In addition, his antics and whom he happens to date (supermodels in case you were wondering) has become tabloid fodder in England.
So, why is there so much fuss about a kid who grew up in a Nottingham housing project? For starters, his music kicks some serious ass. Having just seen him wow people at Coachella this past weekend, Bugg’s cross between the attitude of ‘90s Brit pop and old fashioned folk/country music is unlike anything else that’s out there right now. It’s almost like someone put Oasis, Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash in a blender and out came Jake Bugg. This may sound like a bold statement, but it’s certainly closer to the truth than any other superlative could be.
Born Jacob Edwin Kennedy in 1994 to parents who were musicians, the singer/songwriter adopted his father’s first name as his last when embarking on his musical journey. He first picked up a guitar when he was 12, but it wasn’t his parents who gave the instrument to him, but his uncle. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Bugg said that what first got him inspired was of all things, hearing Don McLean’s “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)” on an episode of The Simpsons. He’s cited his influences ranging from The Beatles to The Everly Brothers and Johnny Cash to Jimi Hendrix, along with Layne Staley (of Alice in Chains). That’s as eclectic of a mix of rock icons one will come across, yet those sounds can be heard in his music.
Since the beginning of 2012, Bugg has appeared on Later… with Jools Holland; toured with the aforementioned Gallagher; supported Mancunian pop icons/controversial Coachella headliners the Stone Roses, Lana Del Rey and Example; and yes, been praised for his music and for taking on One Direction. He was also selected by the BBC to perform on their stage at Glastonbury and his music has been licensed to a beer commercial.
No matter how you cut it, Jake Bugg has a lot going for him right now. He has the right mix of persona, stage show and songs that should make him a fixture with music fans for years to come.