with Temme Scott
Downstairs, All Ages
DOORS: 7:00 PM // SHOW: 8:00 PM
Friday August 27, 2021
With the exception of the occasional middle school talent show, Jack Symes preferred to keep his guitar playing to his Pasadena bedroom, and his songwriting even more locked up. Self-taught on the now extinct about.com, Symes recounts learning the basic open chord shapes needed to play songs like Simon and Garfunkel’s “59th Street Bridge Song”, The Shins’ “New Slang” and other songs that helped shape his folk-inspired sound.
It wasn’t until the near-end of his time at UC Berkeley that he started consistently sharing his own music in public. His junior year of college, he took his spring semester off to travel and work his way through South America, starting in Buenos Aires where his boss suggested he check out the local open mic, “Folk You Monday”. With some encouragement, Symes found himself playing his first ever solo sets every Monday night. Symes’s musical ambitions took on a life of their own when he got back to the States, booking shows across a constellation of Bay Area venues, eventually abandoning a post-grad euro trip to instead embark on what may be the most thorough West Coast tour in history, playing every town from San Diego to Seattle for a whopping 45 shows across 3 months.
The songs from this period of his life came together on his excellent independently released debut, Songs for Moms, a record that tapped into classic sounds for a tell-all letter to his family, sharing pieces of his internal life he’d kept to himself. The album is dotted with characters, brought to life over muted acoustic guitars and the occasional flourish of a brass section, all illuminated by Symes voice, a powerful instrument with an endearing twang.
The year of touring Songs For Moms was meant to culminate in his first headline show at the Great American Music Hall, a rite of passage for any Bay Area artist, but the shadow of a looming pandemic brought things to a grinding halt. Marooned back at his parents house in Los Angeles, and with nothing else to do, Symes and his band began to dig through a collection of new songs he’d been working on, which eventually took the shape of an album rooted in self-discovery and reflection.