West Hartford >> Close your eyes as you listen to Kingswood Oxford junior Jake Kulak ‘18 of Glastonbury, and his band, the Lowdown and you’d swear you’re in a smoky roadhouse in the Mississippi delta listening to an old bluesman wailing on his guitar. Kulak’s playing is so forceful that it’s easy to forget that he’s only a junior in high school. Kulak and the Lowdown have been nominated for a New England Music Award in the category of “Best New Act.” The NEMA recognizes achievement in the genre of popular music in New England. There is no ability to apply for this award, but rather nominees are selected by being “on the radar” of the committee, either through their recordings, appearances, or reputation. It’s easy to hear why. Authentic and real, Kulak’s music has a mature, emotional immediacy that rocks the house.
Kulak first picked up the guitar at the age of 11, and admittedly went into music with fairly low expectations when his parents gave him his first guitar. However, in six short years Kulak has developed into a sizzling talent on the fret board. “Music is a great way to connect with people. It’s been absolutely phenomenal,” Kulak said.
He, along with two other high schoolers, Anthony Dailey and Jeremy Peck formed the Lowdown in 2013 and have toured local clubs and opened for New York City band, The London Souls. Rummaging through the blues catalog of Albert King, Buddy Guy, BB King, the band plays blazing, inspired blues covers as well as original tunes. Two of the band’s penned works include The Player, a Black Keys inspired song powered by Kulak’s fiery notes in his mid solo strolls. The acoustic Let Me Go, harkens to a Bright Eyes number, complete with a reedy Connor Oberst-like vocal. Like many DIY young bands, Kulak and the Lowdown manage their own bookings (along with his parents’ help) and record in a stripped down home studio with a basic laptop. Kulak said the main focus now is composing and recording more original music.
In 2015, the Generation Blues Foundation and the Pinetop Perkins Foundation awarded Kulak a scholarship. He has also attended the Pinetop Perkins Master Class in guitar in Clarksdale, MS that same year.
The New England Music Awards are presented every year to the musicians who call New England their home and whose dedication, spirit, and achievements over the last year have without a doubt established them as a contributing force to the most robust and diverse music scene in the country. The NEMA nominating committee consists of a variety of music industry experts including journalists from music publications, radio personalities, talent buyers, event planners, record label executives and more. This selection of professionals collectively represents all six New England states and every awards category. The goal of the New England Music Awards is to celebrate and recognize some of the area’s best musical achievements.
You can vote for Jake Kulak and the Lowdown here: http://nemusicawards.com/2017-event/2017-new-england-music-awards-ballot/