Now And Then

Born in East Kentucky. The same little pocket of coal mines and subsistence farms that spawned Tom T.Hall, the Judds, Rickey Scaggs, Keith Whitly, Billy Ray Cyrus, Rosemary Clooney, Noah Adams (National Public Radio) and Chuck Woolery (TV show host). Many notables from such a small corner of the country. Philosophers claim the Scotch-Irish who inhabit the area are genetically predisposed toward the arts. Cynics claim the Scotch-Irish who inhabit the area are genetically predisposed toward the avoidance of work. Those aware of the effort involved in creating a piece of music include few cynics.

In the early fifty's the Hamilton family moved north to take advantage of the employment available in the automobile and steel industry in Detroit. Music was never a factor during Jack's early years. His only observable talent was on the baseball field where he excelled through high school. Athletic reality hit when he entered Michigan State University and he was forced to turn his attention elsewhere. Fortunately, there was music.

It was the late sixties and music was everywhere. Jack taught himself the fundamentals of guitar and was soon involved in the writing process. This without any formal training. Maybe the philosophers were right.

The size of the university community meant exposure to all genres of music. The songwriters he has favored over the years include Gordon Lightfoot, John Stewart, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Don Henley, Sara McLaughlin, James Taylor, John Gorka and Jimmy Buffett. But catch him alone on a rainy afternoon and the speakers might be full of Mendelssohn (Symphony #3) or Bach (the violin concertos and/or the Orchestral Suite #3). J. Buffett to J.S. Bach.

This diversity of interests is reflected in his writing and has caused problems from time to time. The question was always - "How do you categorize your music?" Jack considers predictability a particularly unappealing trait, so the answer was usually - "I try not to. " This response seemed to provide the interviewer with more irritation than insight, so Jack came up with - "Hamiltoons. How you hear 'em is what they are."

Jack Hamilton has toured the US and Canada, collecting pieces of life that have served as focal points for Hamiltoons. Sometimes things get out of hand, such as when what started out as a Toon about the piano player and the ball player ended up as a three hundred page novel. Usually they're three or four minutes of one man's perception of what we are and how we got that way.