I often get asked how to get started in music. I almost think that if you have to ask, then you won’t make it. That sounds pretty Machiavellian, but really being a musician is more often “must” than “want”.
Four years ago I was at the Anglesea Music Festival, on the prowl with my trusty recorder, searching out people to interview. One of the people I spotted was Jessey Jackson. She came across as young, self-assured and exuberant – just the sort of person for an interview, and so she was. It was a good interview; she happily talked about her music, her ambitions, the life she saw ahead.
Now none of that seemed at all unusual, but what I didn’t know was that this was not only the first time she’d played a festival, it was pretty much her first major gig. The question is: how is someone that self-assured so early in her career?
Jessey has been playing as long as she can remember, and writing music almost as long. From a single Yamaha with a bowed neck, she now has an embarrassing number of guitars and switches from one to the other in her gigs.
Since that meeting in 2010, she has also developed an interest in recording and mixing, and is now studying that art. She has put out some self-recorded EPs, but recently released a full album. As if to emphasise that she does things the hard way, she funded the recording and producing through crowdsourcing, and had well and truly enough fans to reach the target.
Last weekend was the launch of her CD at Sea Eyes in Anglesea, the very venue where she was making her debut when I first met her. That night she had an artist supporting her, but a few weeks ago she was supporting the James Reyne Trio. That’s doing it the hard way. There is no X Factor here, just hard work with family and friends supporting you and waiting for the day.
Jessey will go on, and her new CD, Deliver Me, will not be her last. She will succeed, because she doesn’t see that there is an alternative.
I have enjoyed watching Jessey over the years; I was one of the crowd funders, and it was great to hear her last weekend. She is maturing into a rich and personal style and has a future in the business.
But this is not to put off aspiring musicians, even if it is an accurate retelling of the start of a career. Even so, for every amazing, successful gig or career, there are many more that don’t go as you expect. You won’t make it by sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. You have to get out there, accept that this is going to take some time, that there will be setbacks, but that the journey is well worth it.
Get involved in the music scene that speaks to you. There are open mic nights, there are music clubs, and these can be more supportive. The Geelong Folk Club has regular events; The Sleepy Hollow Blues Club has monthly jams – a great place to get started with other musicians, and to hear what they think of you.
Make Jessey your hero!
Written by Dr John Lamp. Presented by The Sleepy Hollow Blues Club.