Jake Cle­mons re­mem­bers his great­est in­spi­ra­tion, re­leases de­but al­bum

The Review - - Obituaries - By Rob Nagy For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

Grow­ing up in awe of his late un­cle Clarence Cle­mons, cel­e­brated sax­o­phon­ist of Bruce Spring­steen and the E Street Band, Jake Cle­mons could never have imag­ined he would one day fill the shoes of one of rock and roll’s most cov­eted side­men.

Fol­low­ing the un­timely pass­ing of Clarence Cle­mons in 2011, Jake Cle­mons, an ac­com­plished song­writer and per­former in his own right, got the call that would el­e­vate him fromthe ranks of a strug­gling mu­si­cian to be­come an in­te­gral mem­ber of one of the most revered bands in the world, Bruce Spring­steen and the E Street Band.

“When he passed it was noth­ing short of tragic,” re­calls Jake Cle­mons, from his home in Vir­ginia. “I had to put my in­stru­ment away for a while. I wasn’t re­ally in­ter­ested in com­ing out of my bed­room. It was good friends of mine that en­cour­aged me to come out.”

“I was avail­able and Bruce asked me to come over and things just went up from there,” adds Cle­mons. “For me, in terms of the strug­gle on a per­sonal level, I was com­fort­able around the guys in the E Street Band. They were an ex­ten­sion of my fam­ily, so it was never dif­fi­cult for me. I felt at home there. For me, the hard­est parts were go­ing home at night back to the ho­tel, which I had done so many times with Clarence, and not hav­ing him there. The first time we played on stage was at the Apollo. It was a very in­tense ex­pe­ri­ence, not only that peo­ple were hear­ing those parts played by some­one else, but be­ing on a stage that was known for­mak­ing or break­ing peo­ple. It was a re­ally in­tense and a big heal­ing moment for me. Things were start­ing to look up for the first time. I felt like Clarence was lit­er­ally with me, so I de­cided to keep play­ing.”

Cle­mons has per­formed on Bruce Spring­steen and the E Street Bands Wreck­ing Ball (2012-2013), High Hopes (2014), The River (2016) and Aus­tria and New Zealand (2017) con­cert tours.

Cle­mons has re­cently re­leased his first full-length stu­dio al­bum “Fear & Love” (2017). Fea­tur­ing a col­lec- tion of heart­felt emo­tion­ally charged songs that show­case the song­writ­ing skills of this multi-tal­ented in­stru­men­tal­ist, Fear & Love of­fers an un­for­get­table de­but from this ris­ing star.

Stand­out tracks in­clude, “Hold Tight,” “Ja­nine,” “Burn­ing,” “Shadow,” “Fear & Love” and “Sick, Broke and Bro­ken.”

“I had a real spe­cific vi­sion for this record,” says Cle­mons. “I wanted to tell my own story of the pre­vi­ous two years. When I went into the stu­dio we spent maybe ten days with a full band and track­ing ev­ery­thing live. Over­all I was re­ally happy with it. We were able to spend a lot of time mix­ing it and do­ing some post-pro­duc­tion.”

“I wres­tled with hav­ing guest ap­pear­ances by mu­si­cians on the al­bum and deeply con­sid­ered it,” adds Cle­mons. “It came down to our band is re­ally tal­ented and I thought it was best to fea­ture them and keep it sim­ple and straight for­ward. The record deals with a sense of so much who we are, which is based in fear and love and the de­ci­sions that we make. We are deeply rooted in either fear or love. I have had to rec­on­cile a lot of things per­son­ally. I found my­self try­ing to view the re­al­ity of that, es­pe­cially in terms of a re­la­tion­ship I was in at the time. Try­ing to rec­on­cile that, I found my way out of it for­tu­nately and let that fear go and the source of that fear go. I even­tu­ally crossed over to side two of that pe­riod of my life and the free­dom to love me and love your self. The free­dom to ex­pe­ri­ence what love might be. It’s fear that we’re born into and fear we in­herit from our par­ents and it’s fear we learn on our own fro­mour mis­takes. I’ve learned that if you let your life linger in that for a long pe­riod of time it traps you.”

The son of a Ma­rine Corps band di­rec­tor, Cle­mons grew up in a shel­tered house­hold where he was raised on a heavy dose of dis­ci­pline, re­li­gion and lim­ited ex­po­sure to the arts.

“My fa­ther had a very strict and dif­fer­ent mind set,” re­calls Cle­mons. “We came from two dif­fer­ent places and we didn’t con­nect su­per eas­ily. It was the same way in Clarence’s fam­ily he was the out­lier if you will. So Clarence was a re­ally im­por­tant fig­ure for me early on. As I got older that be­came more sig­nif­i­cant. We be­came friends and we be­came broth­ers. He was my first phone call for any­thing ex­cit­ing and any­thing hard. Clarence and I were deeply close. He was and con­tin­ues to be a cor­ner­stone and a very spir­i­tual fig­ure in my life.”

“When I grew up, I didn’t have a lot of va­ri­ety of mu­sic to lis­ten to,” adds Cle­mons. “I ba­si­cally lis­tened to a lot of gospel, march­ing band and clas­si­cal mu­sic as a kid. As I got older I got ex­posed to a lit­tle bit of rock and roll. Be­cause what Iwas lis­ten­ing to as a young child I didn’t have a nat­u­ral in­cli­na­tion to ap­pre­ci­ate, I had to learn how to. So even when I first started lis­ten­ing to rock and roll, I didn’t un­der­stand it and that lead me into try­ing to un­der­stand ev­ery­thing that I didn’t nat­u­rally con­nect to. I fell in love with it.”

Split­ting time be­tween his own solo ca­reer and work with Bruce Spring­steen and the E Street Band, Cle­mons re­mains pas­sion­ate, hum­ble and driven.

“I hope my mu­sic speaks for it­self,” says Cle­mons. “I’m ec­static and I’m ex­tremely grate­ful and thrilled. I don’t know if I’m sat­is­fied, but I’m in­tensely grate­ful ‘cause it’s been amaz­ing. For me I re­al­ize the gift is where I am right now. I’m in­ter­ested in where I’ve been and where there is still to go.”

An out­spo­ken ad­vo­cate against do­mes­tic vi­o­lence Cle­mons has launched The Ja­nine Project (Ja­ninePro­ject.com,). Cre­ated with the in­ten­tion of help­ing and heal­ing those af­fected by do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, Cle­mons is striv­ing to draw at­ten­tion to this grow­ing prob­lem glob­ally.

COUR­TESY PHOTO

Jake Cle­mons

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