Jack Jolie is a man driven by music.
He spent the early years of his life learning how to play the guitar, performing in front of live audiences and recording music with his father.
In the ’70s, he lived in Nashville with his father, where they wrote and recorded country music.
Now, he lives in Bridgton, where he spends some of his time farming goats and collecting and restoring vintage cast-iron cookware.
However, at the end of the day, it all comes back to one thing: the music.
Name: Jack D. Jolie
Hometown: New Britain, Connecticut
Current town: Bridgton
When did you find yourself first becoming interested in playing music, and when did you start performing for live audiences? When I was 7 years old I mentioned to my father that I wanted to play guitar. A couple days later, he bought one for me and informed me that I’d be practicing every day. I took private lessons and later studied blues at the Hartt School of Music (in Connecticut) in my early teens. My father was a songwriter and singer, and he would sneak me through the side door into the bar to sit in on guitar with the band while they were performing live. I also became pretty good on the shuffleboard bowling machine at the bar.
According to your bio online, you spent time in Nashville performing music with your father, and have performed in several other states. What was it like acclimating to the Maine music scene? I had met Maine country music legend Dick Curless when I was very young through my father’s efforts to promote his songwriting. I was aware of a vibrant country music scene in Maine, but I had no idea where my music would go. I was playing in the bluegrass band “Grass Routes,” and commuted for about a year to gigs in southern New England when I first moved to Maine. I started going to bluegrass jam sessions in the area and met many talented folks who enjoyed playing. I expanded into the local pubs by doing solo performances and continued to expand my circle of friends in the local music scene. I was very surprised at how receptive and appreciative Maine audiences are to performers. It was really fun to get established here.
Who is your biggest influence in the world of music? Having to pick one person, it would have to be Tony Rice. Listening to his playing and trying to learn what he was doing brought my guitar playing to a whole different level. Rice is a master at the acoustic guitar and has influenced how it’s used in modern bluegrass. I was fortunate to sit and talk with him backstage once at a festival for about an hour and tell him how much his music meant to me.
I know that you have a lot of goats where you live, and that you farm them as well. Did your interest in farming come later in life or has it always been a part of who you are? I spent time farming and cutting pulpwood in West Peru when I was a pre-teen. I always had a dream of doing some type of farming. I worked as a paramedic and a police officer for a combination of 25 years and living the city life before I retired, so I guess this is “living the dream” for me. I love the pace of country life now.
When you’re not performing live for an audience or writing music, what are some things you do for fun that might surprise people?Besides goat farming, I guess people might not know that I collect and restore vintage cast-iron cookware. I have a collection of over 100 pieces, including skillets, Dutch ovens and the like. I’m known as the “Bridgton Pan-Handler” in the local shops.
Do you perform music full time? I perform solo shows at senior living homes during the week and at local pubs. I also perform with the Milltown Roadshow on weekends and occasionally I’m a “nitehawk” when Al Hawkes performs with his full bluegrass band. I’ve also been a guest on a couple of recording projects for local musicians.
If you could perform live in a sold-out venue with one musician or band – alive or dead – who would it be? Great question! I’d have to say “The Bluegrass Album Band,” which included Tony Rice on guitar. I love the way they put it all together. Maybe playing as Waylon Jennings’ guitar player would have been a cool gig too!
Jack D. Jolie