Bluesman David Jacobs-Strain's first guitar was given to him by his mother.

"It was a little 10-dollar guitar," Jacobs-Strain said during a phone call from San Francisco. "I messed around with it and more than a few people told me that I needed to take some lessons."

Those lessons gave Jacobs-Strain the basis of what he would eventually do for a living in the future, but it was blues guitarist Taj Mahal that lit the fire under his tail to actually think about playing music for a living.

"My dad took me to see the concert," Jacobs-Strain said. "I was amazed at how Taj Mahal intertwined all these different styles and still sounded bluesy. He did soul, reggae and rock, and it opened my eyes."

About the same time, Jacobs-Strain was drawn to songwriters such as Stephen Stills and Neil Young.

"I still really dig anyone who can play and sing and write songs," he said. "And I will always love Robert Johnson and how he pioneered the blues."

Jacobs-Strain said one concern he's had throughout his career was the fact that he wasn't "of" the blues tradition.

"I loved it and was in it, but did not run in the blues-players circles when I was developing as an artist," Jacobs-Strain said. "So, my thoughts were always about how I could make the style my own."

The guitarist said he shies away from re-creating classic blues songs note for note.

"That's great in an academic level," he said. "But I I have to put my own words and emotions into it. That makes it authentic to me."

With "Liar's Day," Jacobs-Strain's sixth CD, the artist felt more confident writing the songs than he had in the past.

"I've been writing since I was a teen, and I feel that I'm to the point where I can write songs that mean something."

Still, Jacobs-Strain said he wanted to take this album one step further than he has in the past. So, he recruited bassist/producer Kenny Passarelli and drummer/keyboardist Joe Vitale to work on the album.

Passarelli and Vitale were Joe Walsh's rhythm section in the 1970s. And while Passarelli has produced Jacobs-Strain's work in the past this was the first time the three have worked together.

"In fact, Joe Vitale and Kenny haven't made music together for about 18 years," Jacobs-Strain said. "So, it was cool that they could do this with me."

The recording sessions were relaxed and comfortable, Jacobs-Strain said. "Since Kenny was playing on the album, he wasn't in the production booth yelling at us. We chilled and wrote and came up with arrangements and just recorded them. It was spontaneous and there was no overproducing."

If you go

What: Boz Skaggs, David Jacobs-Strain

Where: Deer Valley Amphitheater

When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.

How much: $46

Phone: 435-655-3114


E-mail: [email protected]