Jonathan Blake Salazar
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Jonathan Blake Salazar

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"Jonathan Blake's "Wake Up Call""

“Blazing up the guitar’s fingerboard”
…21-year-old Jonathan Blake has talent beyond his years.

Meagan Clements
Staff Writer

Jonathan Blake is not your ordinary guitar player. He’s rocked venues from Plush Café to House of Blues with his intense playing and shown listeners that music and soul go hand in hand.

For the senior music major who attends Orange Coast College, the guitar is no stranger to him. Blake began playing in the seventh grade. “I took the guitar up really quick and started playing hours and hours. I taught myself to play on an electric [and] it was six months before I started playing solos, Blake said.” “I just love the way [the guitar] makes me feel. Every time I play it, it takes me away to a completely different emotion and place.”

In October, Blake released the acoustic-based album, “Wake Up Call.” Produced by the famous jazz pianist Rob Mullins, Blake’s album offers listeners a fresh and enjoyable sound.

Over a three-month span, Blake recorded songs off of his latest release. “It took a lot of hours practicing riffs but the process was cool and it was fun,” Blake said.

The songwriting process took an equal amount of effort on Blake’s part as he struggled to narrow his focus down on select songs. “When I first started writing a song, I would come up with so many different ideas — ideas that could be five different songs,” Blake said. I had to throw out a whole lot of ideas and decide what parts [to keep.] The listener has to be able to follow along, so the song has to be simple enough for them to get it.”

In three words, Blake represents soul, truth and passion and he exerts emotion and feeling into every song he writes and plays. “Every chord comes with a different feeling,” Blake said. “I have a passion for this music and what I do and it’s important as an artist to speak the truth because people listen to you and relate to you.”

Blake’s favorite song off of his album is “Novocain” because he feels that it is his strongest song emotionally. “It’s the hardest song for me to play in front of people,” he confessed.

Blake’s musical inspirations include: Jonny Lang, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Hendrix, Pearl Jam and Nirvana. “[Jonny Lang] is amazing,” Blake said. He feels that the biggest misconception aspiring artists have about getting into the music business is that they assume as long as they have talent they’re going to be huge fast. “It’s a series of different moves artists have to make and it just takes a lot of hard work,” Blake said.

Blake has co-written songs with singer/actress Amber Stevens and feels that the most difficult concept for him to master in music education has been ear training. Blake, who also plays piano, is now able to identify chord names by ear and play songs that he likes and hears off of an album. The fact that Blake’s album is acoustic yet edgy is what makes it a great listen from track one to track 11. “It has a raw, almost rock energy,” Blake said. Blake recorded the songs “off the floor” and because of their unique inception that cater directly to the listener, his album promises to be a worthwhile purchase.

The up-tempo blues, instrumental-only solo “Squids” gives the listener a taste of quality lead guitar; the track “Just Fine” features such inspirational lyrics as “I walk these streets on my own, on my journey to the great unknown” and “as I move on, I’ve got to keep my faith, as this cold rain hits my face.”

Other scores such as “Reflections” bring forth a soothing combination of mellow acoustic pop/rock all while “subconsciously” forcing you to nodd your head to its graceful rhythms.

The hint of jazz present in “She said” combined with Blake’s soulful voice, puts his album in a league of its own. Finally, “This Love” is a ballad that draws the listener in and is gushing with memorable chord progressions.

Although “Wake Up Call” may be outnumbered by other non-acoustic albums that have grazed the shelves of popular record stores, it is nonetheless filled with roots of soul and old fashioned rhythm and blues and proves song after song to be a thoroughly enjoyable listen.

To hear clips of Blake’s record, visit http://www.myspace.com/jonathanblakemusic. Blake performs live on Feb. 21 at Long Beach State University.

- Meagan Clements staff writer for Azusa Pacific University Newspaper


"Behind The Music"

By Ed Carrasco
Commentary Editor

It’s an accomplishment for an Orange Coast College student to record and have his debut album released.
But fore someone like 21-year-old Jonathan Blake Salazar, who simply goes by Jonathan Blake, who released his debut album “Wake Up Call” in October, he is already garnering praise.
He was recently nominated for Best Alternative artist for the Orange County Music Awards. Though he did not win the award, he still feels good about this accomplishment.
“It feels really good (being nominated,),” he said. “Being nominated for an award is an honor and I didn’t expect that so soon.”
The 21-year-old Fullerton resident’s debut album is and 11-track no-frills, laid-back session of just Jonathan Blake strumming his experiences with his Fender guitar. According to his website, his album takes listeners “on an acoustic journey through the mind of a storyteller… combining flavors of the south and the breezy winds of California surf culture.”
“For my first album, I just wanted it t be like in your back seat when you’re cruising down in traffic,” he said.
Blake said that it was important that his first album be discovered as real as he plays it, not “some overproduced production.”
“I thought it was important for this album to be raw,” he said. “That’s just how it’s going to sound when I’m not in the studio.”
Blake has performed in places such as the House of Blues Anaheim, BB King’s at the Universal City Walk and the Rainbow Bar and Grill in West Hollywood.
“Performing live is what it’s all about,” Blake said. “It’s paying off for all the hard work. I like to see the look on a person’s face who’s never listened to my music before. The energy of the crowd feeds the performance and gives it back.”
His passion to perform music began when he taught himself the guitar in 7th grade and began his interest in the great rock guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton.
“Those are the kind of people that inspired me in the beginning when I first started playing the guitar,” Blake said.
Through his father’s connections, Blake met rob Mullins, a famous jazz composer and piano player who has recorded 16 albums and has performed for the cast of the sitcom “The King of Queens” and wedding of Jennifer Anniston and Brad Pitt.
“I started taking lessons from him and he basically started recording my album,” Blake said.
After Blake recorded a couple of songs, Mullins decided to become his manager. With his assistance, Blake recorded his debut album, “Wake Up Call,” released October.
Through his lyrics, which range from feeling “Novocain in my veins/It takes away the pain” in his song “Novocain” to having drawn “a smile just for you/A smile that only I can see right through” in the title track “Wake Up Call,” he expresses the emotions and experiences that he has gone through in his life.
“All the songs are true to my life and experiences,” Blake said. “It’s directed towards specific people I know.”
But an award isn’t the only venue that is opening up for Blake. He is scheduling to perform on “Open Mic TV” which will start taping in June.
When he isn’t out performing at famous venues around Southern California, Blake can be seen jamming in the Music Department at OCC, where he takes all his classes.
“It helps that my education is music and all my courses are in music,” Blake said. “It helps because I can take a break and practice for theory. I can still be practicing for my show and practice for theory. I’m still in the same mindset.”
It is at OCC where he has enticed to major in music, thanks to professor Emily Hung, whom he took her fundamentals of music class.
“I didn’t miss a question (in her class) the whole entire year,” Blake said. “She suggested I Major in music and that’s why I’m here.
Despite having no scheduled performances at OCC at this time, Blake would like to see himself perform on campus.
I’d love to perform at OCC anytime,” he said. “It’s my home, but it seems like we don’t have any live music on campus.”
Blake hopes to transfer to USC next spring after taking a semester off to follow his producer’s advice and promote himself extensively. In the future, he hopes to do what he does best.
“I see myself touring, recording music and always writing,” he said. “On top of myself, I’ll be writing for other artists.”
For more information and to listen to some of his music, check out his website at www.myspace.com/jonathanblakemusic.

- Ed Carrasco, commentary editor for Orange Coast College Newspaper


Discography

Debut Album "Wake Up Call" was released October 13, 2006.

Find it at:
- itunes
- Rhapsody
- Amazon.com
- CDBaby.com

Find Samples and other cool stuff at:
- www.myspace.com/jonathanblakemusic
- www.jonathan-blake.com
- www.purevolume.com/jonathanblake

You can hear some of my songs playing regularly on KHZ radio 1580 Los Angeles.

Photos

Bio

Awards:

2009 Malibu Music Awards
-Winner for "Best Male Singer-Songwriter"

2009 So Cal Music Live Awards
-Winner for "Best Live Male Performer"

2008 Orange County Music Awards
-Winner for "Best Singer-Songwriter"
-Nominated for "Best Live Solo Acoustic"
-Nominated for "Best Live Acoustic Band"
-Nominated for "Best Song"

2008 LA Music Awards
-Nominated for "Best Male Singer-Songwriter"

2008 Independent Music World Series
-Semi-Finalist

2007 Orange County Music Awards
-Nominated for "Best Alternative"

2007 Inland Empire Music Awards
-Nominated for "Best Male Singer-Songwriter"

Jonathan Blake Salazar Biography
Described as Grammy worthy by LA and OC's most prominent players, Jonathan Blake Salazar is Southern California’s most talented emerging artist. Redefining the blues for 21st Century, he gains mass attention for his distinct Pop and Rock appeal. His exceeding skills as singer, songwriter and guitarist are destined to join the ranks of legends, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Eric Clapton.
Jonathan pioneers a new sound uniquely his own, fusing vibes reminiscent of the Delta with the edge of today’s California. His latest project, a three song EP recorded with Grammy winning Engineer and Producer Steve Churchyard has already started turning heads by earning Jonathan “Best Singer-Songwriter” at the 2009 Malibu Music Awards and “Best Male Artist” at the 2009 So Cal Music Live Awards. The wailing and soulful guitar on this project also caught the ear of Fender Guitars, earning Jonathan an endorsement. No plans of slowing down either as Jonathan is getting ready to head back into the studio with Steve Churchyard for the next project.
His rise in popularity deriving from his powerful performances, solo acoustic and full band, pack venues regularly throughout Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego. In 2008 he toured opening for Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Dave Mason and in October of 2009 he toured opening for Pepper. In 2008 he was also a featured artist on the TV programs "Daybreak OC" and "Open Mic TV."
The Journey
Jonathan Blake Salazar, of Orange County discovered his love for music at age twelve. A self-taught guitar player, he also secretly began writing music.
While music was very important to Jonathan, he was also heavily into athletics. Jonathan avidly played baseball and football throughout high school. He was a four year starting varsity pitcher for the baseball team and the starting varsity quarterback for the football team. He later went on to play college baseball. In a twist of fate—an injury to his shoulder forced an early end to his baseball career.
Jonathan returned to his first love of music and discovered he possessed vocal skills that equally matched his abilities as a guitar player and songwriter. He then went on to become a recording artist. When he isn’t recording music, playing live, smashing through deadly barrels at the Wedge, or bombing massive hills on his long board he is teaching music and guitar.