Yearly Archives: 2016

La La Land

La La Land PosterLast summer I had the pleasure of being in a band with Ryan Gosling… Well, I mimed guitar for a scene in “La La Land” which opens on Friday in Los Angeles and New York, and nationwide on December 16.

Last night I saw the film for the first time at the dance and music team screening. First, that experience was great…I love dancers just as a culture! And the film itself is great! It really captures what film maker Damien Chazelle describes in a piece on his favorite musicals in Sunday’s LA Times, saying that musicals “favor emotions over logic. They’re not a literal reflection of life — they’re about how life feels.” Sure it’s only a slice of how some lives feel, but for me seeing streets I drive often, especially by the 101 and Vine, it felt like some joyous and heartbreaking aspects of my life as a performing artist in LA.

Actually getting this job lines up with that for me. This was actually my first “sidelining” gig. Sidelining is when they hire professional musicians to mime playing pre-recorded music for a film to ensure authenticity when you see the hands move, basically. So we’re playing the songs, it’s just not us that you hear on the soundtrack necessarily. My girlfriend had told me to submit to an agency for this sort of thing a while back and I thought, “What the heck?”

Anyway, I get the gig based on a a couple photos they’ve seen, I guess, and I’m called for wardrobe. I drive out to Burbank or somewhere, make a wrong turn and end up in a cemetery. I finally make it to the studio and I’m guided to a room with a couple look boards leaning against the wall. I’m alone, so I walk over to give them a closer look. I see John Legend and others in sort of neo-soul looking clothes. I think, “Okay, I get the look they’re going for….” Then I pull out the second board which was behind and see photos of A Flock of Seagulls. “Yikes! I’d hate to be those guys…”

“So we’re going for a sort of authentic 80s look….” says the costume director.

Probably only a few of you would know this, but when I was a young teenager, my band was booked to open for A Flock of Seagulls. We thought it was going to be our big break. KROQ was the sponsor. We had the posters. This was going to be our big break out of Irvine. Then, a week or two before the show, the venue closed and we weren’t rescheduled. A Flock of Seagulls is kryptonite.

But the shoot was good. Ryan Gosling was a good guy, joining us in trying to come up with ridiculous band names, all of which I’ve forgotten now. And I won’t give any spoilers, but I’m curious to hear your feedback on my “luck” after seeing the film.

And the feeling of heartbreak to triumph is seeing this film in a room filled with amazing talent, knowing that it’s getting Oscar buzz, and loving the finished product. It’s a nice result for fun work on a 100º summer’s day (which plays for spring in the film).

I’m very visible in the scene, early in the film, behind my sunglasses. And if you see the trailer, I’m visible at the very end — if you don’t blink… and you know I’m there!

Blink and you'll miss it, but this still is from the end of the trailer.

Blink and you’ll miss it, but this still is from the end of the trailer.

Posted in Blog, News

“Bird on a Wire” – Thank You, Leonard Cohen

It’s nice to hear all the different musicians sharing tributes today. Sometimes the best way to honor our heroes is to participate in the act that gave us the inspiration. This felt good. I’ve always listened to Leonard Cohen in times when I needed to be reminded that a contemplative world was possible, that we were free to experience life in intimate and liberating ways. He’s inspired me to write. A few of you have heard a song of mine called, “(Please Don’t Play) Hallelujah.” That was inspired by his pursuit of excellence, not as a diss to the song, but I wanted to shake people out of covering the obvious, and encourage people to write their own “Hallelujah.” I look forward to sharing that song on an upcoming release. But for now, here’s a moment from last night trying to engage and give gratitude to the gift of Leonard Cohen’s art. (I’d never sung it before other than to myself, so please excuse the mistakes…)[soundcloud url=”″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Posted in Blog, Music

Genghis Cohen, Los Angeles, Friday, 12/09 — Chris Pierce, too!


Posted in Shows Past

Anansi Writers Workshop, The World Stage, Los Angeles (Leimert Park), Wed., 11/23


Posted in Shows Past

Podcast today!

Jason Hikes!I’m in Bar Harbor, enjoying my mom and Acadia National Park! Last week, though, Katie Mitchell interviewed me for the Standing “O” Project’s podcast. Standing “O” is a fair trade music streaming site that you may have heard about from “The Art of the Song” radio show, your music community or me (I was featured last year on “The Art of the Song.” It just went live today!

Listen here: with a fan or free trial subscription. Fans can also listen on libsyn here: or on itunes here:

I haven’t listened to it yet, but I loved talking with Katie in my studio. I was just getting ready for the Harry Nilsson Birthday Concert (which went great — I had a string section, bass and drums accompany me on “The Wailing of the Willow” from Harry’s Aerial Ballet album), and working on some new stuff which you’ll be hearing about over the summer.

I hope you’re having a good summer. I find nature, exercise, and music are the best healers, so I’m grateful to be experiencing them all. Hope you’ll experience some of the same!

Posted in Blog, Music, News

Nilsson Preview

Here’s a little preview of the song I’ll be performing at the Nilsson Birthday event on Tuesday. It was a demo for the string arranger. It got me inspired as you may hear on my next music update.

      Wailing of the Willow - Jason Luckett

Hope to see you at the show. I’m on in the very beginning. More info here. Harry Nilsson Birthday

Posted in Music, News

Harry Nilsson Tribute | Los Angeles | 6/14/16

So looking forward to this tribute! I’m going sing “The Wailing of the Willow.” But more exciting is that I’ll be reunited with so many old friends to celebrate one of my favorite artists. I’ve actually been pretty obsessed with Nilsson since seeing the great documentary “Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?).” In the gig listing before you’ll see a list of a bunch of the performers that I’ll be joining, some of them go back to the days of doing shows at the Breakaway in Venice way back in the day! Very excited. A big thanks to Milo Binder for putting this all together!Harry Nilsson Birthday

Posted in Shows Past

The E-Spot in Studio City, Friday, 04/03/16


Posted in Shows Past

Magic Trumps Reason for Tiny Desk

I filmed some friends at my studio for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert contest and decided to submit myself, too! I had a cold, but it turned out okay. I’m loving my new space as its possibilities unfold!

Posted in Blog, Video

David Bowie.

He went out well. Two albums in three years, a broadway play, and a major art retrospective. As I write this, I hear Neil Young: “It’s better to burn out/Than to fade away.” I’m rethinking what it means to burn out. To burn with passion is good. When we create, the fire illuminates. Bowie burned on his way out. Neil wrote of “burning out” as the story of Johnny Rotten (who actually lives well today), Elvis, Janis, Jimi, Morrison even. But Bowie burned, perhaps edging up against self-destruction at certain points, but largely like a sun, a life-giving force to the “freaks” on society’s fringe, those who may have needed to be reminded that they were pretty, but less often needed reminders that they were driving their mothers and fathers insane.

My sister Josslyn wrote today that Bowie was a bridge between my father’s love of jazz and Nina Simone and the music we loved growing up. My recollection is totally different. I remember listening over and over to “Wild is the Wind” in my bedroom. I don’t know what it was about it. I was probably twelve wanting to love, be loved and leave the oppression of sticking out in a very white city where I was betrayed by my shade and kink, then completely outed by my dad’s extravagance. And I’d definitely internalized some of the messages I was a wild creature. It’s somewhere in the vulnerability in Bowie’s voice when he says, “Don’t you know you’re life itself.” The “itself” lands alone, over an implied change to the V dominant seventh chord, the chord that begs to resolve back to the root, yet the previous minor IV chord has stopped ringing. The emptiness in which he holds that awkward word kills me. He does bring us back to the tonic, a minor ninth — that ninth hinting at hope by surpassing the octave by just a step. It’s that aloneness that Bowie allowed us to understand wasn’t so unique, that others share your longing, your estrangement from community norms. And in that understanding, you could step ahead.

I remember my father coming into my room and asking, “Why are you listening to that white boy sing that song?” He fought back with Nina Simone’s version, to which I must now say I’ve listened at least as many times as Bowie’s. But then it was a dismissal of my interests and probably a reaction based on his insecurity around my rejecting his “blackness” by my embrace of my white rockstars — save Jimi. Ultimately, I must agree with my sister that the cross-cultural elements of Bowie’s music did create a bridge between my father and I. I remember him apologizing fairly soon after his initial diss. He later loved that Bowie and Iman were a couple. But it was uncomfortable. Bowie started a fight. But we both learned and gained something in the end.

Then again, that uncomfortable feeling was part of Bowie’s genius. Over and over he pushed boundaries — remember the “man skirt?” — then world caught up, at least sort of. And maybe that was it, too. He created space for acceptance or alternative culture (beyond that icky word “tolerance”) even if the elements of it weren’t embraced or adopted by mainstream culture. That ability to create space for acceptance of “difference” however is probably why he ultimately was so embraced and beloved by the mainstream. Of course it was all helped by a clearly sweet core that you could see in so many of his activities that had little to do with the Avant-garde (Bing Crosby, Jim Henson, “The Snowman…”).

The songs that grabbed me this morning were “Five Years” and “Lazarus.” Impending death at the beginning of his career and transcending at the end. All the while, Bowie radiates as a powerful sun, burning beauty into us, illuminating wondrous ways to look at the world, its inhabitants and its transcendentals.


Posted in Blog