Jack Gaffney
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Jack Gaffney

Boulder, Colorado, United States | SELF

Boulder, Colorado, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Singer/Songwriter




"Jack Gaffney 'Nothing to Be Afraid Of'"

MuzikReviews.com April 22, 2010

Jack Gaffney is a young singer/songwriter from Boulder, Colorado. His new independently-released album is called Nothing To Be Afraid Of. It's five original songs are mediocre mainstream fare, ably produced. Sound like thousands of other unsigned recording artists working hard in the music business? Sure, but Jack is different. How? Well, did I say he was young? I meant very young, only 12 actually.

Like Neil Diamond before puberty and cigarettes, Gaffney belts out his own rock and roll love songs with a clean soprano voice. He's a good singer and obviously a very talented, hard-working young guy. Any 12-year-old who writes, records, and performs his own music deserves major kudos and has tremendous potential. If nothing else, this album is a terrific exercise for a gifted young man. The album is co-produced and arranged by Carter Pann, a Grammy nominated composer and music professor (also Jack's music teacher). The marks of such an experienced pro are there. The lush string arrangements and first-class studio musicians won't disappoint. But Jack is still growing and so is his songwriting. The final song and title track “Nothing To Be Afraid Of” is the best of the bunch and, while it's kind of catchy, I'm not sure I could listen to it too much.

That being said, I'm not sure it's fair to judge Jack Gaffney's tunes by the same standards as an adult musician. This album should be listened to as a first step in a fledgling career. Jack the artist is a work in progress and, judging by his raw talent and work ethic, he's got a bright future ahead of him. He also stars in a professional music video for the album's title track, available on his website and YouTube. It shows his potential as a Disney-style pop star. It's not a big leap to imagine Jack Gaffney opening for Miley Cyrus. - MuzikReviews.com

"Jack Gaffney, 12-year-old multi-instrumentalist celebrating 'Nothing to Be Afraid of"

Boulder Daily Camera, February 26, 2010

With the tips he earns during performances, Jack Gaffney hopes to buy a drum set. He already plays the piano, cello, and guitar, takes music theory classes, and voice, classical piano, and composing lessons. He's even set to release his first album, with five original songs, this weekend at The Brick House on Pearl Street.

At only 12 years old, Jack already has big plans.

"It's a lot of work, but it's worth it," said Jack, a sixth-grader at Centennial Middle School.

Jack started playing piano at 4 years old, started vocal lessons at 9, and was writing his own songs by the time he was 10. Debbie Gaffney, Jack's mom, said Jack started writing songs as a way of dealing with the stress when his sister, Michelle, was having health issues and was in an out of the hospital for a few months.

"We were really surprised how good they were," Gaffney said.

Over the past 2 years, she said Jack has been performing all along the Front Range. He started showing up to open mics and now, Gaffney said Jack is beginning to be asked back to venues where he has played his music. For his performances, she said he has almost two hours worth of material--half original music, and the other half rock n' roll covers of his favorite bands. Jack said his idols are Coldplay, Elton John, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel.

While Debbie Gaffney said many people think of her son as a "pint-sized Billy Joel," ever since seeing U2 in concert as a second grader, Jack said Bono has been his main role model.

"He's a really good guy," Jack said. "He's not into drugs, and he's really smart, nice, and a great musician."

A year and a half ago, Jack started working with CU faculty member and composer Carter Pann. Pann, a Grammy-nominated composer, said he first met Jack when his parents were shopping around for someone to help with Jack's songwriting. Initially, Pann was only going to help Jack find a teacher, but once he got to know Jack, he ended up deciding to take him on as a private student.

"He's just full of raw talent," Pann said, "full of it."

With Pann's help, Jack set out to make his first album, "Nothing to Be Afraid Of," at Backbone Studio in Loveland. Jack wrote all five songs on the album himself and plays piano on all of them. He and Pann also assembled a band for the album that is made up of students and graduates of CU's College of Music and employed a 4-string quartet to play on some of the tracks.

"I'm really proud of it actually," Pann said. "It just sounds awesome."

Over winter break, Jack's sister Angie, a film student at DePaul University, helped him create his first music video for "Nothing to Be Afraid Of" as a Christmas present. They were able to set up and produce the video in four days.

Pann said he is excited and hopeful for success as Jack continues to grow and evolve as a musician.

"Once he gets older and his talent is coupled with a more mature human being he's going to be so far ahead of the curve," Pann said.

But for now, Jack said he is simply excited to be able to take advantage of all the opportunities he has at such a young age. Even though he has to struggle to balance his music and schoolwork, Jack said he thinks all his hard work is eventually going to pay off.

"I'm really busy especially since there's more homework in middle school," he said, "so that stresses me sometimes."

But despite taking on a heavy load as a sixth grader, Jack said he is still a normal kid too. Jack's favorite sport is baseball--he plays center field--and he said has an obsession with Guitar Hero. Jack also got a group of fellow sixth graders together to form a band that will be competing in the upcoming battle of the bands at Centennial.

Henry Sutter, 12, who plays guitar in the band, said he has a lot of fun playing with Jack and loves his musical style.

"I have to say, Jack is probably one of the most talented musicians I've ever met," said Sutter, 12.

With the release of his first album approaching, Jack said he is excited to start playing more shows. He is also planning on a releasing another album later this year, and is working on a 30-instrument symphony that he hopes will be recorded by CU's College of Music. Thanks to his many classes, Gaffney said her son is able to use professional composing software and understands musical theory and all the different instruments.

Once he finally earns enough money for a drum set, Jack said plans to add drum lessons to his growing list of music classes.

"At first, this was just a hobby," Jack said, "but I've realized that music is something I want to do for my whole life."

- Lindsay Guilsano--Boulder Daily Camera


EP: Mask (May 2012)

Something More
Past Spoken Words

EP: Nothing to Be Afraid Of (2010)

Nothing to Be Afraid Of
30 Mile Stretch
Every Single Thing
Moving On



Jack Gaffney is a 14-year-old singer, songwriter, musician and performer. Over the last several years, Jack has played throughout Colorado and as far away as Mississippi and Nashville, displaying an amazing talent and stage presence. The fans love his shows with his piano driven originals along with hits from many great artists including U2, One Republic, Coldplay and classics like Bruce Hornsby and Billy Joel.

Jack's newly released EP, "Mask," was recorded at the private studio of Michael McDonald just outside of Nashville.

Jack was invited by the Pinetop Perkins Foundation to attend it’s master keyboard workshop in Clarksdale, Mississippi, the home of the Delta Blues. The foundation is dedicated to the legacy of Pinetop Perkins, one of the last great Mississippi bluesmen, who died last spring at the age of 97. At the workshop, Jack will be working with the great pianist Ann Rabson and Bob Margolin a blues guitar great who played in Muddy Waters band for years. The week will culminate with a jam at the legendary Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale, owned by actor Morgan Freeman.

Jack has shared the stage on several occasions with world-renowned blues artist Otis Taylor. Jack worked with Otis on his Trance Blues Certified Jam Workshop in Boulder, Thanksgiving weekend 2011.

On April 23, 2011, Jack won runner up for best songwriter at the Swallow Hill Young Songwriters Competition. He performed his original song, “Something More.” Competing against teens from all over Colorado, Jack was the only middle school finalist. www.swallowhillmusic.com

Jack’s first album, 2010’s “Nothing to be Afraid Of” was produced by Grammy nominated composer and long-time mentor, Carter Pann.

In 2009, Jack’s older sister talked him into attending an audition in Boulder for Disney Theatrical. Jack knew little about acting. He sang “Lost” by Coldplay for Disney’s National Casting Director and one week later found himself as a finalist for the role of Michael Banks in the touring production of Mary Poppins. He didn’t get that role, but two months later was called to New York to read for the same part on Broadway. In the end, the rocker didn’t get the part playing the squeaky Victorian English lad, but it was a great experience.

In addition to keyboards, Jack also plays guitar, bass, cello, violin, harmonica and drums. He studies music theory at a college level and has composed multiple works for full orchestra. Jack is also an avid rock climber, enjoys sports of all kinds, and is an excellent student.