Jake La Botz and ’Tattoo Across America’ Tour

Jake La Botz has stolen and lived in cars, learned to play blues from the last of the delta greats like Robert Johnson protégé David "Honeyboy" Edwards, played in a south L.A. church band, acted in indie films and even auditioned for the band Velvet Revolver. Author Jerry Stahl once said of the post-modern bluesman, "Not everybody will get [his music] because not everybody's ready for the truth." Now, on the eve of the October 3 release of his new CD, Graveyard Jones (Charnel Ground Records), which he calls "a jug of condensed rock 'n' roll mythology waiting to be mixed with your consciousness, " Jake La Botz is about to make musical history.

He will preview the album over the course of the 20-city cross-country "Tattoo Across America" tour, stopping at tattoo parlors throughout the country. The tour kicks off in Hollywood on October 7 at Mark Mahoney's Shamrock Social Club and continues to Austin, Chicago, Cleveland, Nashville, Boston, New York, San Francisco and elsewhere through November 2nd.

La Botz, who self-administered his first tattoo at age 14 ("street style . . . India ink and sewing needle") and has since received dozens more through his friendship with tattoo artists over the years, has garnered a following in the body-art community. "I'd been getting emails from tattoo shops and tattooed fans for a while, which made me think 'I should really pay attention to this connection', " he says. "I figured that me and the fans are somewhat on the fringe of the music/art world, so why not do a tour on the fringe? I put out the word of my availability, and response was more instantaneous and organic than it's ever been." When he put "Tattoo Across America Tour" on MySpace, he was flooded with feedback.

The recipient of critical accolades for his last album, All Soul And No Money, La Botz has a musical fan base as well as an indie-film fan base that knows him from Steve Buscemi's Animal Factory and a new film, One Night With You (starring Michael Parks, Mark Boone Junior and La Botz), which is making the film festival circuit. He also appeared in the art-house hit Ghost World (starring Thora Burch, Scarlett Johansen and Steve Buscemi) as a member of the blooze band from hell, Blues Hammer. His latest cinematic quest is to make a documentary about the "Tattoo Across America" tour. He will bring a filmmaker along to document each stop and make a movie "about outsiders, tattoos, music and the search for community in the contemporary world."

So with boxes of the new Graveyard Jones CD in the trunk of his car, La Botz will visit an itinerary of tattoo shops that are as legendary to tattoo people (Gil Montie's Tattoomania, Doc Dog's Las Vegas Tattoo Co.) as CBGB and the Whisky A Go Go are to rock 'n' rollers. "In one sense the modern tattoo shop is like the barbershops of yesteryear, " he says. "People gather and talk about the events of the day. Also it's become a place where you can check the pulse of modern American culture . . . a place where you'll find young and older creative people checking in with each other and sharing information. The artist's obligation is to get information from the other side and bring it back to share for the benefit of all. That's why I write songs and make records and that's why I'm doing the tattoo tour."

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