Jake La Botz: Melodious ink.
Charles Wittenmeier

Jake's Take

The three most sentimental places in the world are cemeteries, airports, and tattoo parlors. Because the first two are verboten, thanks to the church and Homeland Security, Jake La Botz has been making good on the remaining option with his second annual Tattoos Across America tour. If you've ever wondered why a burly sailor with a cracked face had a tender spot for Donald Duck once in his life but were too afraid to ask, this may be the show for you. La Botz's physical graffiti adorns the sleeve of his latest album, Graveyard Jones, a collection of hard-luck stories like "A Ring For Sally," in which a guy gets an engagement ring real cheap at a pawn shop but doesn't tell his fiancée the morbid details about the guy who left it there, and "Provoking Your Care," where proving the world is flat in places is the only good reason for being at a veterans-hall pancake meal. Giving snippets of La Botz's sprawling storytelling doesn't do it justice; like the brief glimpse of a cigar-chomping skull on some young waitresses' vertebrae, the devil is in the details and they're all over his discography, criminally ignored considering its dazzling quality. His voice and musings get compared to those of Tom Waits and latter-period Dylan, and just the fact that he could appear in the same sentence and you could call it a draw tells you how good he actually is. If there is any justice on this late great planet, he'll be playing tattoo stadiums the next time around.


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