There are many interesting stories of how people end up staying in Rhode Island. Sometimes is out of necessity due to a job or maybe even taking care of a family member. Other times, people discover the Ocean State’s creative community and immerse themselves in it.
The latter is what happened to singer-songwriter Jake Wasson when he came here from the Midwest. We recently had a talk about both regions of the United States, getting used to the accents, musical influences and building stuff.
ROB DUGUAY: Being from Springfield, Missouri, and now living in Cranston, are there a lot of differences between the cultures of New England and the Midwest?
JAKE WASSON: Definitely. I think the phenomenon of Midwestern niceness is very much a real thing, especially if you seen movies like “Fargo.” There’s a bluntness in New England that doesn’t really exist in the Midwest. There part of it where I’m from is kind of in between the Midwest and the South, so it’s a weird area that isn’t really like anywhere else.
RD: When you first came here to Rhode Island, did you already know about the accents that we have here?
JW: The only exposure to it that I had before I moved was watching “Family Guy.” My knowledge of Rhode Island was basically limited to that, and I knew one guy who was originally from there but I didn’t really know much about the area. In my head, everything from Maine down to Maryland was just kind of one area and I didn’t think about it too much.
RD: Are you a doctor due to the “M.D.” at the end of your name on your Facebook page? Or is it something completely different?
JW: The “M.D.” thing is a joke, I’m not actually a doctor at all. I’m a carpenter in real life, but it started basically with old blues and country singers putting “Doc” in their name – like Dr. John or Doc Watson for example – so I just thought it would be funny to put “M.D.” in my name.
RD: You just mentioned that you’re a carpenter and you also do woodworking, so how did you get into that field?
JW: I started out wanting to do theater. I was originally in school to be an actor and that didn’t pan out so I kind of gravitated more to the behind the scenes type of stuff. I tried my hand at sound design and painting so I still paint but from there I started building theater sets and that’s what I did for the most part. Then a couple years ago I switched to residential construction.
RD: Your music is very much rooted in folk and blues, so who do you consider to be your main influences?
JW: Well, I think the White Stripes have had a major influence on me. Not just in terms of their own style, but they did a lot of covers of old blues songs, so I picked up some of my guitar playing from Jack White. Through listening to their music I discovered Son House and Robert Johnson and a bunch of others. Lyrically, The Mountain Goats have the biggest influence.
RD: Can we expect any new music from you this year?
JW: Yeah, I’ve been writing a lot. I don’t have any current plans to record necessarily but I’ve written several new songs over the past couple of months. You can expect to hear them at shows and eventually they’ll be in some kind of listenable format.
To learn more about Jake Wasson and hear his music, visit jakewasson.bandcamp.com.