Can’t Get Enuff of Jake Nuffer

Mary Dawson, GRAMMY Camp LA

Most juniors in high school can’t get into bars and clubs. However, most juniors can’t play the guitar like Jake Nuffer. At age sixteen, he is performing with various bands in the very same bars and clubs his friends can’t get into. 

Nuffer decided to further develop his musical talent by applying to GRAMMY Camp located in Los Angeles. His talents were recognized and he was accepted into the Performance Instrumental track. I had the opportunity to sit down with him at GRAMMY Camp this week to talk about his music-filled life.

In addition to playing the guitar, do you ever sing?

“A little. I’m in a few bands at home and I do background vocals.”

So you are in some bands back at home?

“I’m in five bands back at home.”

Five bands! How does that work?

“Well four now because one stopped playing. Two of them don’t practice at all really. And two of them practice a lot.”

Sounds like that takes up a lot of time.

“Yeah it takes up all my time pretty much.”

Do all of the bands you perform with in play various gigs?

“Yeah. I usually play in bars and clubs and stuff.”

So is it hard then trying to get gigs being pretty young?

“It is. They don’t pay you as much; that’s the worst part. Sometimes they don’t even pay you at all. Even though we play better than a lot of adults, because we are kids they pay us less.”

Is there a designated member in your band who deals with the bar owners and club owners?

(Chuckling) “It’s usually our dads”

That makes sense because like you said, the club owners will try and rip off kids.

“Yeah we don’t have a manager or anything. That would be awesome but we just don’t.”

When did you start playing guitar?

“In like second grade. I don’t know; I might’ve been eight years old.”

Was it to help you pick up the ladies?

“I was already pretty good with the ladies you know, but yea the guitar was an attempt to up my game. I’m just kidding. I actually got into playing the guitar because my brother is an amazing guitar player and I wanted to be like him.”

How much older is your brother?

“My brother is 24. He’s playing in bands in LA actually now. He majored in music in college. He’s learned everything.”

Are you looking to continue with your music in college like your brother did?

“I hope so; I want to major in music in college. I’m not trying to replicate my brother, but I want to be like him.”

What style of music do you enjoy playing?

“I mess around with a lot of genres. I’m usually the guy that bands invite to play with them if they need someone. I usually like jazz or funk or the blues and that kind of stuff. I can play whatever you need me to play...usually.”

What about rock?

“And rock. I used to like rock a lot more but now I’ve matured into liking different genres. Led Zeppelin is still one of my favorite bands though.”

Oh I love Led Zeppelin.

“Really? That’s cool and surprising.”

Yeah, I got my taste in music from my dad so a lot of the concerts I go to are old rock bands.

“That’s awesome.”

And it’s great because LA has so many great concert venues. Both big ones that attract big names, but also smaller ones that give me the chance to get close to bands and be in the first row without having to pay a lot of money. 

“Oh yeah. I go to a place called the Baked Potato with my brother and it’s a little club. And it’s where huge guitar players roll through, players who are my idols, and I get to be five feet away from them.”

Is there a good music scene where you live in San Diego?

“No, not really. There are a couple of bands that are pretty good. Nothing compared to Los Angeles and Houston.”

How has your GRAMMY Camp experience been? The whole day and a half you’ve been here.

“It’s been awesome. I didn’t know what to expect, what kinds of kids to expect and what kinds of musicians to expect. Everyone is super nice and super cool. I’m finding people with similar tastes that I have, which is even cooler.”

And it’s even cooler that you get to play with them! Speaking of which, I noticed you didn’t get up on stage for open mic...

“I decided not to. I was going to play Sissy Strut with my friends but I was like nah.”

And why was that?

“There weren’t enough guitar amps; there were only two. I didn’t want to kick anyone off, so I just let the two guitarists do their thing.”

What a guy. Being at GRAMMY Camp at USC must be exciting. Is this your first time on the campus?

“This is my dream school. This is the first time I’ve ever been on campus. After the camp is done, I’m going to do a tour. If I could get into this school. I would be set. This school is amazing.”

Now if you could be present during the music scene of any decade, which decade would you choose?

“That’s so tough, honestly, I bet you everyone would say the same - the Sixties.”

Actually, your friend Josh chose the seventies/eighties because he wanted to play with the Bee Gees and Funkadelic.

“Oh well I don’t want to play with the Bee Gees. I’m sticking with the sixties.”

So who would you want to play with in the Sixties?

“I would want to be able to play with Jimi Hendrix. I mean just seeing him perform would make my life.”

In the Spotlight

Maxwell Yi

GRAMMY Camp (LA 2013, LA 2014), GRAMMY Signature Schools


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