Jack Barksdale

Live from Niles City

Think back to your pre-teen self within a musical paradigm. Now listen to 12-year-old Jack Barksdale’s live album. Witness his blues slide guitar and harmonica skills, as he captivates elders, playing better than some of them while singing without a flinch.

The Fort Worth, Texas, native cites Townes Van Zandt and Johnny Cash as influences, wearing them on his sleeve, but he’s writing fully realized songs, including “Mother,” about his mom battling cancer. On “Never to Love Me,” he explains how Jed Zimmerman taught him to fingerpick, and this was the first song he wrote in that style. Barksdale's talent is rare. He shines with earnest, unjaded passion on a foundation of will and an ability to connect. His vocals sound like a child (he is one), but his songs are timeless. He’s pouring his heart into guitar instead of a computer, and bless his soul for beaming me up with joy.

Must-hear tracks: “Niles City Blues,” “Until the End”