Thursday, September 8, 2011

Keep it up.

WE often get immersed in the work of those who lived ages ago, and forget about the present. Certainly there are those of our contemporaries who have something beautiful to say, and I don’t just want to hear it after we’re all dead. But often the ones we need to discover are the ones who aren’t crying out to be noticed.

We’re always told to keep it down, but every great creator needs to learn to be loud. We’re told to go to great lengths not to be noticed and criticized, but every great artist needs to learn to be laughed at. You’re not succeeding until you’ve offended someone, made someone else jealous, made someone else uncomfortable, and made everyone else notice.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Music in the Moment

There's a moment in G. Love's song "The Hustle" (1:18 into the song) where he starts to play a harmonica solo, pauses for a second, and then laughs and says, "damn." If you play harmonica, you'll recognize that he'd accidentally had his harmonica upside down. It's one of my favorite moments in recorded music, because it's so real. You can feel the music living in the moment. I wonder if they talked about recording it again before deciding to just use the version with the flub on it. Part of me hopes they didn't even debate it.

I was going to take a break halfway through the set last night in Hollywood, but ended up playing for 2 and a half hours straight, and included a few songs that I hadn't played for a long time. We had a great audience, and I just kept going. It was music in the moment, exactly the way it's meant to be played.

Monday, August 22, 2011


It’s important to realize that there are no definitive answers in life. The only definitive that has not been proven false in my life is love, but love is always - and must remain - a place of origin, not a destination to be reached. And priorities are usually related to our goals and destinations, not our starting points.

Much like love is an origin, I also believe marriage should be seen as a point of origin, and not a destination to be reached. Marriage should be that gate two people walk through together which leads gracefully into another chapter in life. So many people see marriage as another destination – something to be obtained - rather than a beginning. Even the concept of being engaged, when viewed more literally, becomes a much more active pursuit. I think the concept of engagement with another person – or, to clarify, engaging with that person and being engaged by him or her – is a much more worthy goal than being married, or bonded to someone. Every engagement should be lifelong, and is more important than the marriage it preceeds. Marriage should be nothing more than a title, the legalization of our rapture with another person and our commitment to that person. Easy for me to say, of course, when I'm not married.

I digress.

Life offers us no definitive answers. I’d love to have a flow chart and run my life through the hierarchy of a system – this comes first, then that, then that….fulfillment. The challenge is maintaining a sense of calm, purpose, and fulfillment through all the many phases of the juggling act. Or perhaps the challenge is learning to see it as something other than a juggling – instead, what if each day under the sun were just that – a day in the grace of the light, in the warmth of the world. Eternal bliss, no. I would not have eternal bliss, it would be a poison that when drunk would make the world comatose. Instead, give me the world, with all of its raptures and risks, and grant me a strong, pourous skin with the power to let in the light and turn away the darkness. What I mean is that when I pass a man on the street and he’s crying, I cannot completely disregard his sadness and remain in a state of untouchable bliss. And at the same time, if I pass a woman on the street and she’s laughing, and I meet her eyes, I can’t walk by unaffected by the contagion of her laughter. We can, however, be firm in our own gravity – be confident in our own souls, and remain pure in our ability to affect and be affected by those around us. In essence, we are each touched by the ripples of those around us, but we don’t become the ripples; this is the main difference between the strong and the highly impressionable.

In vocation, we each pick one or two little things to give each other. If we make comedies, our mission is to make each other laugh; to send those ripples outward into the lake of human interaction. If we write songs, our job might be to make people imagine things; or to choke people up, or to make people feel a very particular way. A good song is like a small chocolate that you put in your mouth whose flavor builds until you lose touch with your immediate surroundings and for a brief moment become the chocolate.

There are a very few songs I have in which I think I bring that sensation to the listener. But, like a romantic relationship, my relationship with my music must start here, it must start with the love I wish to give to my listener; whether it’s tough love, love received through pain, love given through laughter, or an escape in the form of a story. If I think of my music this way, alongside the concepts of taste and sensuality, it becomes a treat, nourishment, and I am able to give a gift to my listener that will nourish and satisfy her. If I listen to a lot of new music with this in mind, it becomes unlistenable. Not because it's bad, but because it is the equivalent of a sweet candy, made with just a little too much sugar – like a jolly rancher made to taste like watermelon that comes off as sweet, but lacks the satiating fullness of a bite of the actual melon.

I do know this: Whatever the goal is, I haven’t quite reached it yet. I’ve gotten close with songs like Providence. A song that tells you a story, takes you through a miniature lifetime within the confines of those three minutes. Those are the songs I love.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

California Songs Word Search!

In honor of the big day, I've devised the following word search...



You can watch tonight's webcast online at:


Monday, June 13, 2011

The Venice Beach Haircut

I keep going through phases where I want to be one of these cool musicians I'm always seeing in Hollywood with long hair, body jewlery, and a tattoo of some chinese word that means 'love', or 'namaste', or 'gullible tourist' on my shoulder. I'll start to grow my hair out for a little while, but after about two months I wake up, look in the mirror, and the same thought always comes to mind: Nah. I then rush out to have a professional remove the bird nest from my head. That's usually where my Sunset Boulevard rocker fantasy ends. This summer, I'm going to be performing weekly on the Sunset strip, and with my clean clothes and short hair I'm sure I'll stand out like an Osborne in a Mormon temple.

Yesterday I got what I’m calling a “Venice Beach” haircut, which is different from a normal haircut as demonstrated by the following transcript:

(I sit in the chair)
Stylist: what are we thinking today? Trim the length, thin it out, clean up the sides and the back?
Me: Perfect.

(I walk in and sit. The receptionist offers me a glass of wine, and when I politely decline, gives me a dirty look)

Stylist (usually named Cleotitus, Raspberry, or Phillip): I know you came for a 'haircut', but let's try something different. Let’s listen to what your hair wants. Your hair is saying to me, whoa, that sometimes the left side doesn't want what the right wants, you know what I'm saying? (wields large scissors). How does this all sound?

Me: I'll take that glass of wine.

I won't burden you with the picture. Suffice it to say that I feel like a mix between a hipster and the victim of a lawnmower accident. I kind of like it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Press Release

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 24, 2011



“People seem to carry stereotypical views of California as this paradise brimming with beaches, stars, and surfers,” says Los Angeles singer-songwriter Jakob Martin. True, those things exist, but from all his travels Jakob Martin knows that that’s such a small part of the state, which is also home to empty land, farmland, desert, mountains and forest. “I saw that as a terrific metaphor – life anywhere, even in paradise, contains so much more depth, imagination, sadness, hope and intensity than people might realize.” Consequently, California Songs, Jakob’s forthcoming full-length album, is about one artist’s exploration of a life in paradise and the complications that come along with it. “The poet John Berryman was known for his ‘dream songs’ – a series of lyrical poems exploring emotions brought on by everyday events,” says Jakob. “People often talk about the California Dream, and California Songs is a play on that.”

California Songs will independently release as a digital-only album on June 28th, 2011. It follows Jakob Martin’s 2010 EP Leave The Light On, both showcasing his distinctly down-home edge of blues harp that cuts through a blend of piano-driven pop, rock and folk. Produced by Dan Diaz of Hypothetical Studios, California Songs is an attempt to explore the Californias of the mind, heart and imagination.

Today, May 24th, Jakob Martin releases the first single from the album, “When It’s Time.” A lullaby in its nature, Jakob says this song became an anthem to his own strength and a reminder to hang on because there’s always something better out there. “When It’s Time” is now available to purchase on iTunes.

For all press inquiries/requests please contact:
Laura Goldfarb at Red Boot Publicity | 617.407.7284

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Variations on a Dream

We are all variations on a dream.

Happiness. Comfort. Adventure. Pleasure. Connection. Spirit. Meaning. Euphoria. Pain. Healing. Bliss. Exploration. Curiosity. Meaning. Speed. Rat races. Heart races. Street races. Hunger. Meaning. Satiation. Touch. Sunlight. Firelight. Pride. Emptiness. Fulfillment. Vindication. Revenge. Rebirth. Desire. Sensuality. Oneness. Awe. Meaning.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Just Keep Going

Click here to listen to me read this blog entry out loud :)

I'll never forget my first solo performance. As part of her Bat Mitzvah celebration, my friend Carly organized a talent show. I had just learned some new chords and written a song earlier that day, and, rather than playing one of the songs I had been practicing, I decided I'd attempt not only to get on stage for the first time, but to play a brand new song as well (go big or go home, right?!). I remember arriving with my little red electric guitar and seeing a girl I thought was cute, but didn't have the guts to talk to. Just wait until she hears me play, I thought.

I got onstage and completely bombed - I couldn't remember a single note of the song I'd written. And yet, as I exited stage-left after mumbling apologies to 130 family friends and avoiding eye contact with the cute girl, I still felt this rush throughout my body, and one single thought: "I've got to do that again." (I also thought I should probably practice next time). And, of course, I did get back up and do it again- about 700 times. And every time it gets better.

Persistence has become one of the most important themes of my career. It has seen me through failures, successes, and milestones. I have never regretted being persistent, regardless of the outcome. If you think it sounds cliche - you're damn right it is. All lasting cliches have withstood the test of time for good reason. My parents used to tell me to "Just Keep Going" when things got rough. "You're always closer than you may think," they'd say. My dad is still quick to remind me of this, and I love him for it.

As many of you know, last year I launched a "Listener Supported" campaign to raise the money to produce and release a new album independently. We came close to the goal, and I ended up being able to record the "Leave the Light On" EP (five songs). Over the last year, however, I've quietly continued working to finish the full album we originally set out to create. Last month, we were able to do just that, and I'm happy to announce to you that California Songs will be released online/worldwide on June 28th.

Next Tuesday, we'll be releasing the first single from the album, entitled "When It's Time", (which happens to go well with the theme of this email - booyah!). You can preview the new single online here. The second single, "California Song" will be coming out on June 7th.

I couldn't have done this without you. Thank you so much for having my back, cheering me on, and giving me the courage to just keep going.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Ultimate Frontier

We settled the West. We landed on the Moon. The ultimate frontier is the human imagination. It gives us everything, and requires only our faith in return. It cannot be conquered; only discovered. It cannot be settled; only loved.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Universe Smiles

Last night in Baltimore, I found out at the last moment that they wouldn't have a piano at the venue. I've been doing about half of my set every night on piano, so I was disappointed to hear this, but a little voice in the back of my mind said don't worry. I made it to Baltimore, lugged my baggage from the train station down to a local Starbucks, and created a new setlist involving only songs I was prepared to play on the guitar, but the little voice in the back of my head was saying doing worry. I met up with a friend of mine who drove me to the venue and I looked at the empty stage area, imagining a keyboard there. That little voice, don't worry. Eventually, it was show time. I put on my red Sanuks and looked at the stage. Still no keyboard. I took a deep breath, went up, and played my heart out on the guitar.

I took a break between my two sets, and was talking with a guy who had come for the show. "You're a great multi-instrumentalist," he said, referring to the guitar and harmonica.

"You should see me when I have a piano," I said.

"You need one?" said the guy. "My friend owns a recording studio and I think he's there now. Maybe he has something you can borrow for your second show."

"Where's the studio," I asked?

"Directly upstairs," the guy said.

Five minutes later, this guy walks in with an electric piano and sets it up on stage in front of me. A red one; it even matched my show shoes. I was in piano heaven for the rest of the night.

The universe smiles. I've got your back. Don't worry.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sirens and Rain

Certain things seem to have gone together forever, like
sirens and rain.
Together, a complete thought,
a reference point for
love and history and god in the city

On days like this, life is a painting,
my bedroom, museum

big tree flaps
green on brown
brown on green

umbrella blows, top first,
from a third-floor balcony
into the mud.

Everything is motion,
the artist signature
barely visible
fogged and streaked,
as time
paints watercolor songs
across the window

Los Angeles

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thursday, 12:42 am

Who are we to doubt ourselves?

We are made of the magic we seek; we are so often asleep in the arms of our better angels.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I'm getting excited (and a little nervous) for my tour dates back east, which makes me think I’m doing something right. Taking risks again, getting ready to put it all out there in a few cities I've never performed in. New York City. Baltimore. Charlottesville.

I had a mentor who used to say that if you were very nervous about something, you probably weren't prepared, if you weren't nervous at all, you probably weren't challenging yourself enough, but if you were just a little bit nervous, you were probably ready. I like to feel a tiny tingle of nerves before I go onstage or head out on a tour. It keeps things live and interesting, and it keeps me focussed. I also think an audience would rather see a real, vulnerable person than someone pretending to be unbreakable. Having said that, it took me a long time and a lot of failure on stage to get to a point where I can be confident enough to enjoy the nervousness. Part of it, I believe, comes from knowing that, no matter how long I do this, I'm going to take risks - and fail - again. I'm also going to succeed and break through again on stage in ways I never anticipated. In the end, it's not the result - but the challenge - that keeps my heart beating just a little faster.

PS - Cut my own hair today...still haven't found a barber I like in LA. See below.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


You can never just have one coincidence. Once you start noticing them, it somehow always compounds on itself, until this proliferation of coincidence becomes the greatest one of all, and you start walking around telling people you've had some big awakening and you're finally have a direct line to the secrets of the universe.

Coincidence # 1: There's this gelato place I love in Hollywood called scoops, and I was telling a couple of friends about it, and talking about how I hadn't been there since I moved up and wished there was one closer to my house, and boom! we pass a storefront, mere blocks from my house - where they're having the grand opening of "Scoops Westside".

Coincidence # 2: I've been listening to a lot of Tom Waits over the last week, for the first time in years- I was jogging yesterday and I was suddenly hit with this phrase- "Be your own Muse". I wrote it in my journal actually. I got home, and started listening to Radiolab and they had an entire segment about this idea of the 'muse' and whether it's something that comes from outside of us or within. Just then, as I'm thinking how in touch I am with the universe, the woman being interviewed starts talking about Tom Waits, and how he would sometimes talk with the muse when he was trying to finish a song.

Alright, so those are the only two I can think of right now, but I'm sure there were more this weekend. Some people might argue that these are all indicators of fate. Some people might argue that they're completely random, a product of chance. I'm not sure. But I do love how life smiles on those of us who are paying attention.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

iMovie...Practice round

We had a lot of fun making all those tour videos, and I just got a new computer that'll allow me to do the same thing from new music, maybe a few puns, you know the drill. For more on this (and a test of the JM broadcasting system) here's a special message from yours truly (thanks to Dan Diaz for the music):