While Northeast Pennsylvania may have an active scene with many noteworthy names, few are as distinguished, multi-talented, and simply down to earth as Jackson Vee. Jackson Vee is a solo artist based out of Scranton, and has been performing solo since 2007. Vee had professional training at Wilkes University, and has knowledge of various genres such as classical, rock, jazz, and contemporary, and unsurprisingly plays a multitude of instruments. Over the years, Vee has shared the stage with noteworthy artists like Sick Puppies and Rev Theory, has released two albums, and has received dozens of awards for accomplishments in his music career.
Vee has been playing music for as long as he can remember, and happily recalled in an interview with us that he got his start at the ripe age of roughly 3 or 4, when Santa gifted him a keyboard. From there, he learned more instruments over the years, and performed in ensembles such as orchestras, marching bands, and rock bands. Eventually, Vee took his music onto a professional level and studied five years of music education from Wilkes University, with plans of being a music teacher.
“The knowledge that I got from my professors, and my peers, it’s incredible. If I didn’t go to college, I wouldn’t know half the stuff I know about music,” Vee said. He also echoed a sentiment held by many students at Misericordia – “Some of the teachers there, they’re not just teachers – they go on to be friends.”
When it comes to his influences as an artist, Vee has many. Growing up, Vee was a fan of artists such as Bon Jovi and Motley Crue, and was inspired by the 80’s rock scene. Nowadays, Vee doesn’t name any particular artists as main influences, but does have one area of music that he wouldn’t be the same without – local music.
“When I say who my biggest influences are, I think my biggest influences musically are local people that I grew up watching,” said Vee, who grew up in NEPA. Many of the artists that he grew up watching have also now made a name for themselves and are popular far beyond our local scene. Vee is also someone who doesn’t view local music as a competition – “to me, the more, the merrier.”
Some of Vee’s best memories have been in the local scene, but he’s also shared some memorable experiences with bigger acts, as well. One story Vee shared with us was during one of 97.9X’s secret shows that Vee was attending. During that particular show, Vee had been playing an acoustic cover of Sober by Tool, and afterwards was greeted by none other than the guitarist of Saving Abel, who proceeded to shake Vee’s hand and told him, “Dude, I thought that was the jukebox.” Needless to say, that was an unforgettable compliment for Vee.
Since the age of 16, Vee has been in various bands and projects, such as The Lounge Lizards, Cherry Pie, and Simon Sez, to name a few. He has a few active projects now. Aside from his solo shows, he also performs as an acoustic duet with Melissa “Lissa” Krahnke, also known for her work as a host on 98.5 KRZ. Vee also has another acoustic project, a trio, called The Trio Migos. Finally, Vee is in a 5-piece group named Jigsaw Johnny. The band consists of Vee on vocals and keys, Lindsay Van Gorden on vocals and acoustic guitar, Joe “Wiggy” Wegleski on lead guitar, Lenny Mecca on bass, and Gary Samony on drums. The group currently does covers from genres such as classic rock, new rock, 90s, and funk, and the group is currently working on writing original material, as well. The act came to be after years in the local music scene lead to them all being connected through mutual friends, and Vee has known his band mates for nearly two decades now. Forming a band together was a natural evolution, and they have been working together since 2010.
“They’re probably some of the best musicians I know that aren’t known nationally,” said Vee of his bandmates.
As for performing, Vee has been doing that almost as long. Vee shared the story of his first performance in front of others, which dated back to kindergarten. Vee brought in his first keyboard into class for show and tell day… Which just so happened to be on the birthday of the girl he liked. He recalls playing happy birthday to her, followed by the generous gift of a Starburst. Always a charmer. Eventually, Vee joined the world of music on a bigger scale than a kindergarten class, and entered the local scene around 2005. His first solo show was at Waldo’s Tavern in Scranton, PA, after he proposed the idea of an open mic night to his friend who bartended there. Vee’s performance career has taken off from that point forward.
In the future, Vee plans to do more of what he’s been doing for years now. Songwriting has become more of a main objective for him in recent years, so he plans to continue writing for various projects that he is involved in, including his solo work. He doesn’t have any immediate plans to pursue teaching professionally, but would be open to one-on-one teaching, because he feels that that would be the most efficient method of teaching for students who are passionate about learning. Outside of his work life, his personal life is music-oriented too, including going to many concerts.
“When people say ‘support live music’, it’s not just hitting a ‘Like’ button on Facebook – it’s actually going out, hearing them live, supporting them, and buying their CD,” Vee said, and his openly honest statement rings more true in today’s music industry than ever before.
Finally, when it comes to being a musician professionally, Vee says that he doesn’t particularly care about being famous or all the “glamorous” perks of the music world. What he truly cares about is supporting music, and his talent along with his personable and thoughtful attitude are attracting support for him right back. At the end of the day, Vee sounds like he’s living the dream far more than some “stars”, as happiness and doing what one loves are what pays off most in the end.
“I’ll be doing this for the rest of my life… Just doing what I love.”
Check out his studio session at Cougar Radio below, where he plays three of his original tracks: Nothing To You, Bury Yesterday, and Found You Again. You can also follow Jackson Vee on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for all of his latest news and upcoming shows.