David W. Jacobsen agrees that you could call him a folk singer but he doesn’t sound all that convinced.
“If you have no band behind you, you play acoustic guitar, and your songs are narrative in nature, that’s the nature of folk songs,” he acknowledges.
The folk label, he says, is “based on the need to be thrown into an easily classifiable genre.”
Jacobsen, a Jersey boy who grew up in Essex County, has lived in Jersey City for seven years. He will celebrate the release of his new CD, “Postcards,” at the Lamp Post Bar & Grille in Jersey City on Saturday, April 16, from 7:30-9 p.m.
He jokes that he must be a folkie if the gig starts so early. Describing his style, he invokes flute-playing rockers Jethro Tull and identifies his rhythms as “intricate.”
“People hear ‘folk’ and they think Cumbaya or something like that.” – David W. Jacobsen
He settles on “alt-folk bent” as an apt description.
Jacobsen attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.
“I have an excellent understanding of music theory as well as the good sense not to use it,” he says.
What he studied and what he likes are two different things.
“I studied jazz composition and bass guitar – hardcore jazz, intricate musicians’ music,” he says.
It has very little to do with what he is doing now. “I don’t actually like any of that music,” he says. “I like songs, and jazz is less about songs.”
Christmas in Jersey City” received an honor award in the Great American Song Contest.
He also likes to add humor to the mix. “Humor tends to get the best response,” he says. “It balances the more serious material.”
The material is described as “catchy acoustic songs mixing humorous social commentary and melancholy reflection.”
Jacobsen has found Jersey City to be a good town for local musicians to be heard. In addition to the Lamp Post, he plays at the Boca Grande and participates in open mic nights at Art House Productions. The Brennan Coffee House is also a great venue for musicians.
“You can meet other musicians,” he says. “I like the community of artists and musicians and the general vibe downtown.” For his day job he says, “I take my butt to Manhattan” where he “works in software doing various things.”
The easy commute on the PATH is another thing that keeps him in Jersey City.
Jacobsen’s album “Footprints” was voted among the top 10 albums by Upstage Magazine. His song “Christmas in Jersey City” received an honor award in the Great American Song Contest.
He has recorded more than 10 albums on the Zbokth Productions label, including “Walking Away from Wonderland,” which includes songs about “losing touch with friends, family, and self.”
“Postcards” is made up of his best material from 1998 to 2005.
“Starting off in the acoustic singer/songwriter genre,” he says, “the songs branch out to incorporate progressive elements and unexpected melodies.”
And some downers as well.
The CD is “a collection of soulful yearnings that explore disconnection through bad dates and unfulfilling jobs,” he says.
The recording includes his award-winning “Christmas in Jersey City,” which includes the refrain “Merry Christmas to you. Sorry for the things I put you through,” which reflects the wry, downbeat humor for which he is known.
For a complete list of Jacobsen’s songs and more about his life and work visit www.davidwj.com
The bottom line
“I would love to do things on my own terms,” he says. “It’s difficult to make a living in music on anything but covers, but that doesn’t make sense. It’s not rewarding enough.”
Right now he wants to get his material heard, but the “stars would have to be aligned” for him to make it big with his original music.
“It’s all about getting it out there to as many people as possible.”
The Lamp Post Bar & Grille is at 382 Second St. in Jersey City between Monmouth and Brunswick. (201) 222-1331.
Kate Rounds can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org..