The first show Jake Loban played as an Americana artist? A dive bar in El Cajon. “There were more prostitutes outside than people inside,” Loban says.
A few years later, in February 2016, Loban played the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach. “It feels good to work your way up,” says Loban. “Seeing my name on the Belly Up marquee was such a trip.”
The 29-year-old started his music career as a high-school freshman playing open-mic nights at the Encinitas Ranch golf course. He was fronting an ’80s and ’90s punk-rock cover band.
...off of Jake Loban's Chasing Fire EP
That project evolved into the Career Soldiers, a punk band formed in 2002 with which Loban toured North America and released two LPs. The quartet played with bands such as the Casualties, Lower Class Brats, and UK Subs.
The San Dieguito Academy student (2005 graduate) played anywhere the band could. “We played basements, squats, dive bars,” he says, “you name it.”
During those years, Loban also played bass touring Europe with the Unseen, a Massachusetts punk band. “They were one of my favorite bands, so playing with them was incredible.”
Career Soldiers disbanded in 2008, and Loban cofounded Pass the Axe, “which is what really introduced me to the country and Americana scene. I’ve been chasing those sounds ever since.”
Loban now splits his time between San Diego and Nashville, where Tootsies Orchid Lounge, a honky-tonk bar, hired the San Diego musician to be a Broadway player. Loban says he plays shows every day while in Nashville.
3615 El Cajon Boulevard, City Heights
San Diego is still home, but Loban says playing in Nashville has made him a better performer and songwriter.
“I learn something new every day,” he says. “I’m constantly pushed out of my comfort zone.” Yet, some of it’s familiar.
“I’ve met a lot of people in the country and Americana scene who also grew up playing punk and hardcore. No matter the genre of music, what matters most is that you write from the heart.”
Jake Loban plays Soda Bar on October 11 and Lestat’s West on October 15.