Music, man

Local musician Mike Jackson to receive Lifetime Achievement Award at Jazz Festival


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  • Mike Jackson



— Mike Jackson, a longtime Warwick resident and professional musician for more than 30 years, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Hudson Valley Jazz Festival scheduled Aug. 14 through 17.

The prestigious award honoring Jackson will be presented on Saturday, Aug. 16, prior to The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra show at The Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center.

In 2012 The Hudson Valley Jazz Festival, which was formerly named The Warwick Valley Jazz Festival, sought to create a lifetime achievement award to honor local talent.

The first recipient was Hal Gaylor; the following year, the award was presented to Richard Kimball.

A Stella flat-top acoustic
Jackson, whose music ranges from rhythm and blues to jazz, stated that he learned to play guitar the hard way - on the bandstand.

He received his first guitar for his 12th birthday in 1956. It was a Stella flat-top acoustic purchased from a pawnshop by his mother for the princely sum of $15.

The first tune he learned to play was Bill Doggett's "Honky Tonk," one of the great R&B hits of the 50's. Jackson still includes it in his repertoire.

Jackson recalls taking his only guitar lessons, about 10, from the late Bill Harris, a legendary Washington, D.C., blues, jazz and classical guitarist.

"At that time," Jackson said, "I didn't take to the discipline of serious study so I quit taking lessons and just started practicing on my own and hanging out with guitar players and other musicians."

'The right direction'

By the 60's, Jackson was a veteran of the Washington, D.C., nightclub scene and on the theater circuit he also played the Apollo in Harlem, the Royal in Baltimore and the Howard in Washington, D.C.

In the late 60's he toured Europe. In 1968 turned his attention to jazz.

"Moving from R&B to jazz just seemed to make sense to me," he said. "I liked the more sophisticated melodic structures of jazz and it just seemed like the right direction to go."

Jackson, who turns 70 this year, has six grown children, all raised in Warwick, and five grandchildren.

He performs at numerous Warwick events and also teaches guitar and musical theory.

Jackson is also an elder and serves on the board of the Valley Bible Church.

Essential information

For additional information about The Vanguard Jazz Orchestra show at The Sugar Loaf Performing Arts Center and other events or to purchase tickets visit: http://www.sugarloafpac.org/events/hudson-valley-jazz-festival-2/

- Roger Gavan

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