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Jake LaBotz

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Jake La Botz was conceived while his parents listened to a record by Texas bluesman and sharecropper Mance Lipscomb. He moved to Chicago when he was a toddler with his father, a truck driver and union organizer as well as a journalist. La Botz says that his dad was the only white reporter at the black newspaper, the Chicago Daily Defender.

As a boy, he was exposed to different cultures and ideas, from the political meetings held at his home to hanging out in his melting pot Uptown neighborhood. Driven by an artistic lust La Botz took to traveling around the city when he was 8 or 9 and ushered at local theatres to be close to the stage and see plays for free. As an adolescent, he discovered the library where he listened to blues and hillbilly records or soaked up the romantic adventure stories of writers like Nelson Algren, Jack London, Louis Ferdinand Celine, B. Traven, and the Beats.

His heart set on acting, Jake made it into a fine arts program at a Chicago public high school and majored in drama for one year before he discovered punk rock. "The punk scene was a natural place for a misfit kid to end up in the 80's. I identified with the emotional rawness of the music and got a feeling of belonging somewhere. I later got that same feeling hanging around with the old bluesmen."

After dropping out of school at 15 he began to hit the road "I stole a car made it as far as Colorado one trip, ended up living under a bridge in Trinidad, CO for a few days and then into Denver for a bit..." La Botz moved around the country hanging out at punk shows, hobo camps and libraries and working such "memorable" jobs as roofing in subzero wintertime Chicago, boilermaking at the worlds largest oil refinery (in Gary, IN), writing obits for a local paper, and has been the only English speaking employee of every factory he ever worked at. In the midst of all this he began banging on a guitar...

Whenever back in Chicago, he spent his Sunday mornings hanging around and occasionally busking at the famed Southside flea market on Maxwell Street where bluesmen like Muddy Waters and Little Walter cut their teeth. There, he got to know the reigning bluesman on the scene, Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis who was to become a close friend and mentor. Still a teenager at the time, he would sneak into clubs to hear other blues legends such as Homesick James and Honeyboy Edwards, who he later spent a great deal of time with both on and off the stage. With the encouragement of his mentors, Jake began to play professionally. He worked the bars, streets and train tunnels of Chicago. Sporadically, he would venture back out on the highways, making roadtrips to the Mississippi Delta and other parts of the South where he played on the streets and in local juke-joints. La Botz continued to wander the country's backroads and byways with an occasional trip to Europe. In 1996 he wound up in downtown L.A. playing at Al's Bar once a week in exchange for a room in the SRO hotel upstairs.

His steady stream of performances at 'hipster' bars, blues clubs, and tattoo parlors resulted in attention from the independent film world and an improbable acting career began to unfold. His most significant role, as of late, is playing the mercenary "Tombstone" alongside Sylvester Stallone in the most recent edition of the Rambo series. In another noteworthy performance Jake portrays a blues singing convict "Jesse" in the prison film Animal Factory directed by respected actor Steve Buscemi working with such notables Willem Dafoe and Mickey Rourke.

He also attracted the attention of former Guns 'N' Roses guitarist Slash who asked Jake to audition for the supergroup Velvet Revolver. While that didn't pan out, he did play guitar for a couple of years at the Greater Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church in South Central Los Angeles.

For the last four years Jake has become known for his Tattoo Across America Tour where he performs at tattoo shops.

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