Denver-based singer-songwriter Jarec Blake first got involved with music as a kid, singing in a church where his dad served as a pastor. Both his mom and dad were musicians, and they brought him along to play with the family’s band at Five Points Jazz Festival and other local events.
The first time he felt like he wanted to play the guitar was after watching Slash play on television. “I was like, ‘I can really feel what he’s feeling by what he’s playing,’” Blake recalls. “And so that’s why I wanted to play.”
He started writing songs early; the first nine, he scrawled in a notebook that he lost. At a Young Life Christian summer camp in Frasier, Colorado, he wrote his first EP and recorded it, but never released it. By the time he was fifteen, he had found his groove as a solo artist.
The twenty-something musician's inspiration is vast: His mother schooled him in the entire Beatles discography, and his dad constantly listened to jazz. From the songs of Jimi Hendrix, Earth, Wind and Fire and Eminem, strong lyrics drew him in. His music is untethered to a specific genre.
He uses whatever works to convey what he’s feeling or thinking about, and whether he’s borrowing from hip-hop, Latin, R&B or soul, the effect is powerful.
Blake performed at his first open mic in 2013. Then, at the beginning of 2017, he was performing at open mics frequently, three or four times a week.
And while he is playing bigger stages these days, he still loves the open-mic format; he enjoys witnessing what other artists incorporate into their music.
“I’ve been able to see as Denver has started to have more artists come in. I’ve seen the topics change,” says Blake. “I’ve watched politics and stuff, too, so as politics change, you see the words and song content change over time. I just enjoy seeing how people put their words into music ... [Open mics] give you the experience of being in different situations, and it just adds to your performance experience.”
Over the years, he has released two acoustic EPs; his most recent, Don’t Wait, dropped in March. He is currently working on a full-length blues-rock inspired album with drummer Kagiso Mogadingoane, who performs as KGBdrums.
“I see every genre as a different emotion,” Blake says. “Classical music is all the same arc and heartfelt, if you get into that. Then rock is more direct or intense.”
Over his short career as a songwriter, his writing style has evolved.
“I think my writing has changed from mostly sad songs and slow melodies to upbeat things and more tempos that you can nod your head to,” Blake explains. “I make the music I feel like hearing.”
Jarec Blake, 7 p.m., Friday, April 6, Denver Art Society, 734 Santa Fe Drive, 720-583-3728.