Musician Jack Hadley performs on April 15 at Cool River Cafe in Greenwood Village. (Photo by Joe Nguyen/AsiaXpress.com)
Face2Face with Jack Hadley
Boulder-based Filipino-American musician explores the world of the blues in his music
By Joe Nguyen, AsiaXpress.com
April 21, 2010
BOULDER – Jack Hadley's initial foray into the music business was not he had expected.
Sitting in Q's Restaurant inside the Boulderado Hotel, Hadley reminisced about finding his first gig just down the hall years earlier. Not knowing who to talk to or how to go about getting a gig, he said, he decided to talk to the manager of the restaurant.
"I introduced myself and I said, 'I was wondering if you had live music here and if so, I'd like to play here,'" he said. "And to my surprise she said, 'OK, sure, when can you start?'"
His smooth transition to becoming a professional musician certainly fits with his laid-back persona and silky vocals. For the past decade, the 57-year-old singer-songwriter has brought his unique voice to the audiences across Colorado, North America and the U.K. He has released two solo albums and has played alongside blues veteran Otis Taylor on a transatlantic tour. Today he primarily plays around the Denver metro area, often doing three or four shows a week.
"A lot of what I do comes out of the blues and maybe some soul music and some rock as well," he said.
Hadley was born in the city of Angeles in the Philippines, the son of a Filipino woman and a black American soldier who was stationed there during World War II. The family moved to San Francisco when he was 6 and again to Denver during his early teens.
"When we came to Colorado, I was surprised," he said. "Being a kid, you're not aware that different parts of the country are truly different and we got out here and the diversity was very different. There weren't a lot of black people, there weren't a lot of Asian people."
It was as a child when his mom bought him a cheap acoustic guitar. However, he said, it wasn't love at first sight. He struggled with his lessons and his finger placements with the size of the guitar.
"I was a kid and I started to play it and it was hard," he said. " ... It was kind of a mess, so I put that down for a while."
Hadley picked up the guitar off-and-on as he grew older, but it wasn't until a personal crisis in his life gave him a wake-up call.
"I was going through a divorce and I realized that's a pretty heavy experience," he said. "I was trying to keep myself occupied. I always had music, but one day I just sort of woke up and I thought, you know, you need to get much better on this or maybe you should just stop.
"I decided then that I was going to start going to jam sessions."
Hadley joined a band with his friends and mostly played rock music in parks for their own personal enjoyment, all the while improving his guitar skills. In 2005, he was playing a local show when Taylor approached him.
"(Taylor) happened to come in and he talked to me after the show," he said. "He told me to give him a call, so I called him and it turned out he lived in Boulder. That was sort of my introduction to really trying to concentrate on playing the blues."
For the next 18 months, Hadley toured alongside Taylor as his lead guitarist. They traveled across the U.S., Canada and the U.K. playing in a number of festivals and shows. He would later appear on Taylor's 2007 album Definition of a Circle.
Hadley continues to explore the world of the blues, playing in a variety of venues around town every week. He said while the money isn't great, it is not about how much he makes, but about the love of the music.
"Make sure you're playing for a reason that makes sense to you and it shouldn't be money," he said. "It should be because you really feel that you're a musician and you want to play music and you want to make music."