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The Ramblin' Mike

There's a New Dylan in Town
by Guest Columnist - Galena Reiter-Thomson

Live Music

It’s been about a year that Victory Music has held an open mic at Alderwood Mall in Lynnwood, on the first and third Sundays of the month. Some people might think it’s an odd coupling, the polished shopping mall and folksy Victory Music. Actually, it’s a pretty fine pairing, and maybe a synergistic new “look” for a Victory open mic.
Since it’s held in the food court, it’s logical that a lot of young people frequent the place. Those same young people take notice of the music at the open mic; a few of them get up in front of the microphone.
One particular regular is Dylan Jakobsen. Here’s a young man who was having a regular childhood, going to school, playing soccer and baseball and football. When his interest in those activities waned, his dad suggested he give the guitar a try. (Here’s where they’ll have some special effects in the movie version of this story!) It was love at first strum, Dylan took to the guitar like a duck takes to water.
He learned a little from Dad, and soon found a teacher to nurture his new talent. He learned to play the love songs his parents had at home, but soon developed his own taste; lots of it shared by his family.
Dylan’s family came out to the Mall last July for a Sunday matinee at the theatre. After the movie, they walked past the open mic, which had moved outside during the balmy Puget Sound summer weather (a fond memory in the chill of February!!) Dad says, “You play at home all the time. Why don’t you get up there?” The normal pre-teen response is negative, polite, in this case, but a definite “offer declined.”
After some further urging, and an actual BRIBE from the parents, Dylan agrees to borrow the sound man’s guitar and give the open mic a try. He agrees to play one song. His parents knew all was ok, when at the end of the song, Dylan announced, “and for my next song….” Turns out, this brave fellow was a songwriter! He performed originals and a cover song that day.
He returned for the next open mic, with his own guitar, prepared to play his songs. Now he’s a regular performer, having played at most of the open mics held there since that sunny Sunday in July. He always has a supportive family in the audience. That “fan base” often swells to grandparents and other extended family members, proudly operating camcorders. Occasionally, family friends pass, recognize the family and stay for a listen. Those lucky folks, along with the rest of the listeners, have been well rewarded for being in the “right place at the right time.”
Dylan has fine tuned his performing skills, presenting his music with confidence and greater stage presence all the time. His songs cover the genre of love songs, teen-age angst, and playful whimsy; an amazingly insightful, playful observer of his world. His songs often cause the listener to marvel at the sight of a 12-year-old voice expressing emotions and universal thoughts so eloquently.
Invariably, when he gets up to play, the teenagers who frequent the food court area, begin to make their way to the music. In no time at all, they crowd around to listen and cheer. Occasionally, there have been students from his school. He’s had offers to join a band, but he has his own ideas forming for that.
The value of the supportive family was again apparent on a recent visit to Dylan’s home. Their music room boasts multiple instruments and numerous recordings of their favorite music. Thus far, the interests are shared. Looking back at “where’d all this talent come from”, Dylan says his dad played guitar some, and an uncle on the east coast plays. He’s only had one opportunity to play with that uncle.
Looking forward, his little sister also plays guitar, at this open mic and at Café Allegro. Though influenced by her big brother, sister Kari clearly plays her own music. On a casual request from his older sister, Dylan composed a song about her. In spite of the negative press touting the loss of family values and the supposition that artists must suffer for their craft, here’s a very positive portrait of a family happily nurturing their children’s talents.
When asked for his favorite CD, Dylan admits that it’s “Warning” by his favorite band, Green Day. If he’s playing a cover song at the open mic, it’s most often a Green Day song. He and his mom trekked to Tacoma to see them in concert last year. The memories of that concert prompted big smiles from both of them.
Intuitively, Dylan practices the art of networking. Chatting with fellow open mic performer, Jorge Zorro, led to an invitation to share the stage at a now-defunct songwriter showcase at the Madison Café last summer. He was as well received there, as he is at the mall.
In the works, besides the academic work at Middle School, Dylan hopes to get a band together. He’s found a drummer, and keeps his eye out for another guitar and a bass player. Recording is definitely a goal, and continued songwriting. Right now, he’s writing at least a song a week. Inspiration abounds, from sisters, to students’ attire, to paying tribute to admired songwriters who died too young. His tunes, how well he composes the words, and fine guitar playing make for a terrific performance. He no longer needs his family to urge him to play. And that bribe back in July? It was a polo shirt that he still wears, and a new CD.
Until he gets his own recording done, you, dear reader, will have to come to an open mic to hear this talented songwriter.
(Thanks to Mike Guthrie for letting me fill in for him this issue.)





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