Jason Baker combines folk, punk, rap, and blues to talk about America.

Jason Baker is a songwriter and performer from Burlington Vermont. A musician from age 14, he had stopped writing and performing original music more than 25 years ago. We talked with him about his journey back into music to become a songwriter and solo artist. 

Baker played guitar in several rock bands as a teenager, and was into various hard rock styles as well as early rap: RunDMC were as influential on him as Eddie Van Halen, and Beastie Boys were as important as Bad Brains. 

“I loved the way RunDMC would use rock guitar riffs and drums to rap over,” Baker remembers, “they set a standard that the arrangements should sound like a band, which is a practice that later groups I loved like Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, Cypress Hill and A Tribe Called Quest all followed in their own way... and heavy metal and punk started to adopt rap and hip-hop lyrical ideas and beats in return. I still love blending genres, I mean isn’t that how Rock’n’Roll was invented?” 

Later, Baker would play guitar as sideman for songwriters like Ambrose Liu (later founder of the band Hoss) for his art-rock multimedia project "Ten Stations" and Guy Henderson (as part of Too Far East). However music started to take a backseat in his life. "I just let more and more time slip away until I was not playing music at all," said Baker. "It is sad to think about. So I eventually set a goal to do something I have wanted to for a long time, which is to write songs. I wasn’t even sure I could do it well enough to show anyone!" Baker started writing songs in 2017 and found that indeed, he has much to say. “I wrote a LOT of songs in a year’s time!” he laughed, “and when people heard the songs, they would usually classify it as folk music, which I was not consciously aiming at at first. Now I see how folk music was always part of my musical education, perhaps more deeply than I realized until now.” 

Baker began performing his originals in 2018, releasing his debut in Spring of 2018: America Dreams, a large collection of 22 songs recorded in do-it-yourself fashion and released as a digital, online-only release. 

He describes his solo material as "Original Folk Roots Americana". On his new album, Common Man Blues, scheduled to be released in early September, Jason continues to write songs that are musically in the folk tradition, yet lyrically in tune with socially-conscious rap, reggae and rock, as well as folk and Americana. 

"Based in traditional Folk styles and a general respect for the roots of American music, I write songs influenced by the deep roots of old-time and acoustic music, but fully modern in lyrical perspective,'' said Baker. 

"I suppose I am as heavily influenced by rappers, particularly what I guess is called 'classic' rap, as much as I am by singer-songwriters" he speculated. "My stuff is wordy, and sometimes starts as one kind of song, then gets disguised or altered, so it's usually a mash up of sorts: part rap, part folk, part editorial, part poem, all depending on what the song seems to need.” Baker’s song topics on the new album do seem to cover a variety of social concerns, from homelessness ("You've Run Out Of Places To Go") to species extinction ("The Last Coral Left Alive") to political divisions themselves ("The Great Big Wide Open Divide"). One song, "Across the Desert Sand", explicitly makes the connections between climate change and the economic desperation driving refugee crises. 

"The title track, "Common Man Blues", was arranged with some help from David Amram, who was kind enough to jam with me on it, and encourage me to finish it." enthused Baker. "It is actually based musically, very loosely, on the beginning of Aaron Copland's 'Fanfare For The Common Man', with that sequence of notes being fit into a blues phrase," he continued, "and the lyrics are a general call to action for fair wages". 

"Both of my albums are full of topical songs and seem to add up to an assessment and cultural critique of modern America.” said the singer-songwriter. "It's not the only type of song I write, and I do have a few songs on each album that are not political, but it does seem the right time to say these things." One song that is not explicitly political in intent is about folk music fans themselves, according to Baker, "I was at Old Songs Festival, and right after a particularly intense rain storm, all these people immediately popped out of their tents, pulled out banjos and ukuleles and fiddles, and started right in playing music.

 I wrote 'We Don't Know Any Better' right then, about all of us that love old-time and acoustic music." As for the commercial prospects of an album of topical songs, Baker takes a broader view. "It's my hope that people will like and share the music, online of course, but also in person. I want people to cover and sing these songs. That would be success to me, if the songs get a life of their own."
Though he was featured in recently released Lifoti's September 2019 issue 09, you can check it from below link's for your country:

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