- Jake La Botz shows off his ink at 252 on Monday.
It's guys like Jake La Botz who make you realize how little you've done with your life. Over the years, La Botz has been a singer, guitarist, songwriter, tattoo artist, actor, newspaper obituary writer, and car thief. He's also auditioned for Velvet Revolver. Meanwhile, I feel a sense of accomplishment if I manage to cook dinner three nights a week.
Born in 1968, La Botz grew up on Chicago's Southside, around the rough-edged blues of Homesick James and Honeyboy Edwards (the latter learned guitar from Robert Johnson himself). Inspired by the Beats, La Botz "liberated" a car and hit the road, where he began strumming guitar and writing tunes. Performing on street corners, in bars, and even tattoo parlors, he ended up in Los Angeles, and word of the musician's unique shtick reached Hollywood. This led to small roles in Ghost World and Animal Factory. Music, however, remained his primary focus.
Graveyard Jones, La Botz's fourth and latest disc, is 14 tales of damaged humanity -- lost characters so far down, the concept of "up" doesn't even exist. While rooted in hellhound-on-my-trail blues, La Botz has absorbed influences from country and ragged rock and roll; his Tom Waits-like rasp drips with survivors' agony.
For his current tour, La Botz is playing only tattoo parlors, "where there are no dressing rooms, no backstage, nowhere to hide," he explains. "This approach has a way of cutting through artistic hierarchy. [It] keeps it real."