Biography

I received my first guitar for my 13th birthday, in 1995. It was a Harmony-brand Stratocaster copy. I haven’t stopped playing since.

Early on, I was influenced by the blues greats. The natural progression led me on to classic rockers like Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jimi Hendrix. The older I got, the broader my influences became: in high school and college, I studied jazz, so I listened to stuff like Joe Pass, Wes Montgomery, and Jim Hall; and as I started to write songs of my own, I turned to guys like John Denver, James Taylor, Jim Croce, and Gordon Lightfoot. These days, I find myself influenced by all different types of music: rave, dance, and electronic, classical and opera, country, and the modern-day singer/songwriter types: Josh RitterJon ForemanJohn MayerAndrew Osenga, and fellows like that.

Photo by: Ash Hodges. ashleyhodgesphotography.com

I began teaching private lessons at the age of 16, teaching kids in a spare bedroom of the house where I grew up. The way I saw it, I needed cash, the money was good, and besides, I enjoyed it, and I’ve always heard that one of the best ways to hone your knowledge on a subject is to teach it.I started taking private guitar lessons myself right off the bat, in 1995, and since then I’ve had the privilege of sitting under some pretty cool (and great) guitarists, studying a wide range of styles, including: rock and blues, jazz, flamenco, and classical. My teaching experience now spans over a decade, teaching students as young as 7 and as old as 57.

And guitar isn’t the only instrument I’ve studied either. Over the years, I’ve studied piano, voice, and violin. In 2005, I graduated from Columbia College Chicago, where I studied record production and jazz guitar performance under Chicago jazz icon Frank Dawson.

As I hinted to earlier, I have been writing and recording music for a long time. I remember writing my first ditty and lyric when I was about 10 years old. As a singer/songwriter/guitarist, I perform regularly all across the country – solo and with a band. I have released several albums, which you can check out on iTunes or wherever. And you can learn more about my music on my website, jaymathes.com.

I also own a small recording studio right here in the area. At The Dragon Room, I mostly work with small ensembles/bands and solo artists, but I also teach clinics on producing and recording music – and even songwriting. You can learn more about that here: swiftlyrunning.com.

You might also like to know just a bit more about my personal life… My wife, Megan, and I got married soon after graduating college, in 2005; and we have one boy and one girl. In my free time, I love camping, backpacking, rock climbing, reading, and cooking. Anything else you’d like to know?

I could not imagine living life without music. In the coming years, I plan to continue writing, recording, and performing, and would love to hit the road to perform full-time. Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy teaching and, hopefully, inspiring! Ciao!