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Rockin’ Jake plays weekend shows at Hahn's Peak Cafe, Ghost Ranch Saloon

Harmonica player still inspired by city of New Orleans

Harmonica player Rockin’ Jake plays the Hahn’s Peak Cafe at 8 p.m. today. There is a $5 cover. He also plays the Ghost Ranch Saloon on Saturday.

Harmonica player Rockin’ Jake plays the Hahn’s Peak Cafe at 8 p.m. today. There is a $5 cover. He also plays the Ghost Ranch Saloon on Saturday.

If you go

What: Rockin’ Jake

When: 8 p.m. today

Where: Hahn’s Peak Cafe, Routt County Road 129, 26 miles north of Steamboat Springs

Cost: $5

If you go

What: Rockin’ Jake

When: 9 p.m. Saturday

Where: Ghost Ranch Saloon, 56 Seventh St.

Cost: Free

Rockin' Jake

— Being on the road is hard in September.

Just before he took the stage in a small town in southern Utah on Monday, Lawrence Jacobs, better known as Rockin’ Jake, checked the score one final time.

The New Orleans Saints were up by eight points on the San Francisco 49ers with just a few minutes left.

They had it in the bag, or so Jake thought.

While he was wailing away on his harmonicas in that rocking Cajun blues style instilled in him by 25 years in New Orleans, his beloved Saints would go down to the wire, eventually winning the Monday Night Football game with a field goal as time expired.

To the 50-year-old musician who checks the scores before and after a gig, along with the hundreds of thousands of others affected by Hurricane Katrina, the Saints are more than a football team because New Orleans is more than a city.

“There’s no limit to how much (New Orleans has) influenced me musically and personally,” Jake said. “The city itself is not like Disneyland. It can be a tough city to live in. But with that toughness is a certain degree of character.”

It was in New Orleans he was first introduced to the myriad regional music dialects, from foot-stomping Cajun to the Creole version of roots folk — zydeco — to straight up blues.

Jake, his harmonicas and his three band members return to Routt County this weekend for two shows, beginning with an 8 p.m. show today at Hahn’s Peak Cafe north of Clark, followed by an appearance at the Ghost Ranch Saloon on Saturday starting at 9 p.m. The Hahn’s Peak show has a $5 cover.

Hahn’s Peak Cafe owner Katie Bessey said this would be Jake’s fourth appearance at the restaurant, which pushes its tables aside for an intimate music venue setting.

“Everyone’s on their seat dancing,” Bessey said about previous Rockin’ Jake shows. “Jake gets up on the bar with his harmonica, and everyone always shows up. It’s really original, radical blues music. And he has a great band that backs him.”

The Rockin’ Jake band comprises Paul Niehaus on guitar, Joey Crifo on drums and Eric “E-Roq” Foreman on bass. All four band members also sing.

Jake said he first picked up the harmonica in his teens because he thought it would be easier than playing saxophone or guitar. He was wrong.

“It’s a tricky instrument to play well,” Jake said. “You can get some good emotion out of it. You can get some sad or sweet or nasty. It’s kind of right out of my gut. It’s in my mouth, and it’s coming right out of my gut.”

And while in his gut he’s longing for the day he can move back to New Orleans, he’ll still follow his music career across the country and follow the Saints’ every score.

Since Katrina relocated him and his wife to St. Louis, Jake said his music has lost some of its zydeco flair and has given way to more traditional blues patterns. And it’s clear for whom he’s singing the blues.

“It’s like that one girl that you’re infatuated with,” he said about New Orleans. “She blew your mind, and you’ll never meet another.”

— To reach Nicole Inglis, call 871-4204 or e-mail


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