We first came across Jack Grace back in 2012. He was competing at the Dorset Music Awards, he put on an outstanding performance which took him through to the semi finals. A year and a half later we met up with Jack again, it was amazing to see how he had developed as an artist. Not only had his guitar playing improved, but so had his voice, his stage presence, songwriting and arrangements. It was like meeting Robert Johnson after he had sold his soul. Jack explained how studying music at Kingston University has helped him improve as a musician.
“I have a much better understanding of music since I have been studying. Before I would write songs because that’s what I wanted to do, but I had a limited knowledge of how to do it. Now I still want to write songs but I also have a better understanding of how to”.
One of the most striking things about Jack’s live setup is that he uses two vocal microphones. Not both at the same time, but switching between the two when he wants to produce a different vocal sound.
“I have come up with this because I use a loop pedal, the loop pedal goes into the acoustic guitar channel, I play the acoustic guitar bit first and instead of looping guitar solos I decided to try using my vocal. I started layering my own voice, it's like having a choir at my disposal. Sound men often complain, because they can’t control my vocal independently of my acoustic guitar, for example if they put reverb on my voice it will also be added to the acoustic guitar”.
In our video Jack is playing a Fender Stratocaster guitar which he has named Sally. I asked why he has named his guitar?
"I name all my guitars, I have a black and gold Epiphone Sheraton, which is a hollow body guitar from the 80s. I named this guitar Shelby after my favourite car a Shelby Cobra. I even had a gold plate made for this guitar with the name Shelby engraved on it. I also have a sunburst Fender Stratocaster which I have named Sunny, a blond Fender Telecaster which I named Blondie. And of course my Mustang red Fender Stratocaster which I named Sally after Mustang Sally".
As Jack went through his list of guitars I noticed the brand Fender kept being mentioned?
"I do have other guitars, I’m not biassed but I haven't found anything else that sounds like a Fender. My acoustic guitar is a Martin, I've got a couple of Epiphones, but I love that sound of a Fender. All my favourite bands and guitar heros use Fenders, Jimi Hendrix, Mark Knopfler and Jeff Buckley all used Fenders. There’s a reason for that, not only are they an iconic brand but they have an iconic sound".
Do you use a Fender amplifier?
"No, I had planned to buy a Fender Twin Deluxe, but the guy in the shop persuaded me to try the Peavey Classic 50. I compared the two amplifiers with my eyes closed, I soon realized there was no contest. The Peavey Classic 50 is like three amps in one, I have never found another amp as versatile as this".
Jack has been donating his time and music to raise money for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund. Jack’s cousin SGT Luke Taylor was killed in Afghanistan, Luke’s family were surprised to learn that his joint bank account (which he shared with his wife) would be frozen until an enquiry into his death had been completed. Had it not been for the support of the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund Luke’s grieving wife would not have had the funds to support herself and their young son. Below is a link to help you make a small donation, any contribution will ensure a better quality of life to serving and retired Royal Marines and their families.
Please visit Jack Grace's website