and these thoughts are not my own, just words from my favorite songs.

PHOTOS: Rob Skalecki

I never wanted to be a police officer, but I wanted to be on SWAT. I wanted to be a fire jumper, not a traditional fire fighter. If there was an extreme version of a career, I wanted to do that. I have always enjoyed being pushed beyond what I think I can do. Too frequently in my early days I heard “you don’t have what it takes.” Often this is fuel for my fire, but those words can haunt a person for decades.



I’ve always lived with the idea that if there’s no more room in the fire for irons, make a bigger fire. While living in Joplin, Missouri in my early twenties, I worked two jobs. Not because I had to, but because I was bored and restless. Along with my overnight stocking job, I picked up eight more hours of factory work. I fell asleep standing at my machine once – but only once. Then, the Queen City Saints out of Springfield offered the rhythm guitar position to me. That time pushed me harder than any other to that point in my life. Weekends were filled with band practice or shows. Weekdays offered 2-4 hours of sleep between shifts. I bit off a big chunk and got in return:

1.  A lot of tattoos.

2.  A lot of guitar gear

3. Stories and friendships that I still cherish

4. The ability to fall asleep under a table in a back room in a bar.

5. Understanding that if you want to do a thing you love, it’s going to hurt.


2018 was my first full year of living off music. It’s been a learning and growing season. There have been more struggles and tribulations than ever before, but I can honestly say I’ve never been happier.


Were there times I missed a 9 to 5? Yes.

Were there times I questioned my decision to go full time? Sure.

Did I eat more Ramen noodles than a thirty-one-year-old man should? Absolutely.

 Is it worth it? 100%.

I don’t enjoy comfortable—it teeters on the verge of boredom. Instead, I need grind. New markets, projects, albums, and creations are sure to come in 2019.  There’s plenty more progress to make.

- Mississippi Jake


I encourage you to get a little uncomfortable this year. Learn an instrument, start a blog, run a marathon, reconnect with someone from your past, perform in front of people, or just strike up a conversation with a stranger.