Jason grew up in Bluefield, Virginia, a small town in the Appalachian Mountains. He attended the University of Virginia and majored in English with a minor in theatre, stating, “I always knew I wanted to teach, and even hoped to be a drama teacher. This is why I love the story and game based curriculum of Brooklyn Music Factory so much!”
Jason grew up around music. “On weekends we would go to my grandparents house. My Pa-Paw played the banjo, my uncle who played the guitar and sang, and my Ma-Maw and dad would dance on the porch. Getting that regular intimate experience of live music made me always want to learn how to play. Plus I would sing and dance at home and pretend to be Michael Jackson as much as possible.”
As a child, Jason took piano and guitar lessons but neither stuck. It wasn’t until he learned the spoons at 25 and began jamming with friends that he began to take a real interest in playing music. As an adult, Jason returned to the mountaintop to live with his Ma-Maw & Pa-Paw and focus on learning the fiddle and Banjo. Eventually, he moved to New York, started a weekly jam with some friends, and met Nate Shaw while walking around Brooklyn playing his banjo!
Jason’s coolest gig? “Once I visited a Zen monastery in California for a number of weeks. They decided to hold an informal talent sharing for all the Zen students there, and it just so happened that Joan Baez was there to unwind & relax before heading out on her tour. They asked her if she would perform a few songs in the sharing and she said yes, so they put her right smack dab in the middle of the set of 20 Zen students. I happened to be #10 on the list so after I played a couple of songs on spoons & harmonica, she went on right after me. Technically you could say I opened for Joan Baez ;-)”
Most importantly, Jason would like to offer one piece of advice to his students: “Inspiration is precious and shouldn’t be taken for granted. So when you feel excited by something in music – a song, a beat, a chord progression, even a note – follow that and see where it takes you.”