Last time Northern Express spoke with Gaylord multi-instrumentalist and sound engineer Jake Allen, he had just released his solo album and was prepping to release his first concert DVD, which attracted the attention of Candyrat Records.
Although he typically spends winters in Arizona playing a musical residency, this year Allen stayed local, working with a new band and building a brand-new recording studio.
Like many, Allen likes to escape The Alpine Village’s harsh winters, but last spring, he decided to take a break from the Jake Allen Band in order to focus on other things … although he wasn’t sure just what.
Enter The Cookies, a new, energetic dance band from Gaylord. The Cookies’ guitarist, Jacob Filarski, invited Allen to join the band, and that was that.
“I jumped at that opportunity because it seemed like a nice change of scenery,” Allen said. “Playing drums in a band that does a bunch of upbeat covers and gets people dancing sounded strangely inviting. I decided this was a good opportunity to give the Jake Allen Band a hiatus.”
Refocusing on both his solo career and The Cookies – the latter of which he calls “a joyful experience” – Allen is now turning his attention to Gaylord’s music scene.
Although not a cold weather fan, Allen said he spent this past winter in Gaylord to work with The Cookies.
“And now I’m starting to realize that my being back in Michigan is crucial to my growth at this time,” he said. “Out West I was very caught up in the fast-paced lifestyle.”
He’s also musically inspired by the “Up North” vibe.
“As much as I hate the winters here, there is something about the desolation,” he said. “It’s easier to write potent music when you are slightly uncomfortable.”
Allen is now taking full advantage of his remote location by turning his house in Crawford County into a recording studio, one with a unique goal: He wants the studio to be a haven for Michigan-based musicians.
“The vision is to have a place where I can record and engineer the next Jake Allen album, the debut Cookies’ album, and also projects from artists here within our community,” he said.
The control room for Allen’s new studio has already been built, along with a large live room to record full bands.
It’s been both an emotional and financial investment for Gaylord’s prodigal son, who has launched an indiegogo.com campaign to help defray costs.
The funds raised will help outfit the new studio, and in turn help his fellow Michigan musicians realize their recording goals.
“In the past, there had always been a kind of sense of pride that stopped me from asking my friends and fans for help,” Allen said. “But once I actually took a deeper look into the campaigns that bands were doing on sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, I became more open to the idea of reaching out.”
With the campaign, Allen’s plate could be considered full. He’s currently writing songs for his own album and contributing to The Cookies’ album, both of which he says should be completed by early 2015.
But there’s even more on his musical menu. Allen is scheduled to appear with The Cookies as the Treetops Resort and Spa house band Friday and Saturday nights, May-October, as well as monthly performances at Cafe Santé in Boyne City.
Staying home this winter and turning his attention to Michigan musicians has been a grounding experience, he said.
“I’m in a very introspective place currently,” he said, “and being around the places and people I grew up with is helping me to gain better perspectives on not only my career, but also my life in general.”
To learn more about Jake Allen and his musical projects, visit jakeallenmusic.com or his Facebook page. For bookings, contact manager Marcia Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or (989) 619-1396.