Jake Kaligis: A Day in the Life

Jake Kaligis: A Day in the Life

If you’re a music lover and enjoy Lehigh Valley night life, chances are you’ve already heard of Jake Kaligis. Performing locally for over 25 years’, he is a staple as an awardwinning singer/songwriter. Currently, he plays with three bands and a duo: No Flies on Frank, New Constitution, Crippled Moonshine, and The Dynamic Duo. He also performs solo and teaches guitar at West End Music in Allentown.

His full schedule would be ambitious for most musicians, but when COVID-19 shutdowns began, Kaligis, along with many other professional artists, just kicked the creativity up several notches. He overhauled his website, jakekaligis.com, set up guitar lessons via Skype and Facebook Live, and returned to performing by way of Honest Trav’s Virtual Dive Bar on Facebook.

WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS

The majority of the bands Kaligis plays in now have been together for many years. He and Michael Rauscher have been performing as The Dynamic Duo for 20 years. Rauscher is also a member of New Constitution. Bud Hayman who plays drums in No Flies on Frank, started out with Kaligis back in the garage days.

Kaligis recalls, “My older brother had bands, but I wasn’t allowed to play with them. So, I started my own band called The Original Three with Ed Golden, Kevin Holder, and Bud Hayman. I had a Weis shopping cart and filled it with my guitar and amps and would push it to their garage. I was about 12 years old then. Our first real gig was at The Ground Round in Whitehall. That band later became No Flies on Frank with me and Bud, and now we are back together again.”

Crippled Moonshine was another garage band that continues to perform today—outside of the garage, that is. Kaligis says, “It was a Grateful Dead and classic rock tribute jam band. We added our own twist.”

Although his first gig with a band was as a pre-teen, Kaligis was already comfortable entertaining crowds by the age of nine when he played guitar at a school assembly. Before that tender age he was primarily into baseball and soccer, trying to emulate his athletic father, Joceleyn, who had won a bronze medal for the US Men’s Field Hockey Team during the Pan Am Games in the 70s. However, allergies prevented young Jake from being outdoors, so he started taking guitar lessons.

His teacher, Charles “Kal” Kastelnik, had a son, Craig Kastelnik, (who to this day is a respected and notable professional musician and Lehigh Valley native) was on the musical rise and Jake took notice. “Craig was on the cover of a record album, The Young Ideas—that was inspirational. Many years later, I was able to perform with Craig, and that was cool.” Kaligis went on to play bass guitar in marching band in high school. The band won a competition and traveled to Orlando, Florida to compete in finals.

Kaligis says some of his early musical influences were, “Harry Belafonte and his island music. I’ve listened to Sesame Street, Electric Company, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, and that was pretty much my world.” Hints of these influences can be found woven into his own songwriting.

SUNNY DAY

Songwriting inspiration comes in many forms for Kaligis. “A song can come from everything—my wife, Annie, other music, the other bands I’m in also inspire me. Starry nights, coffee in the morning, any of those things can become a song,” he says. Performing, on the other hand, he feels is more spiritual—it is his calling.

Kaligis has come a long way from those Ground Round days, and is now proficient on electric, acoustic, and bass guitar, upright bass, mandolin, piano, drums, conga, hand percussion, and is currently learning flute.

TRUCKIN’

Dabbling in performing as a kid was fun, but it wasn’t until he met fellow musician Phil Stahl that Kaligis considered it a career. Stahl, a veteran regional performer, and the area’s premier Open Mic host recognized the talent in Kaligis and encouraged him. “Phil Stahl was a huge influence in my career getting started. He played the same genre of material and he made me feel confident to keep going. I recorded a CD, Durango, in ‘97 and that was the start of performing regularly. Later, I toured up and down the Florida Keys with the band Zero Days Clean” he says. Upon returning to the Lehigh Valley, he started setting up gigs for several bands that he put together with old friends and added solo performances too.

Fast forward two decades later, and Kaligis has become one of the busiest, awardwinning singer/songwriting performers around, produced four CDs, taught hundreds of students to play guitar, and has been recognized by Lehigh Valley Music Awards for 20+ years’ of rockin’ entertaining service. So, we flick our virtual lighters in appreciation for the tunes Kaligis has provided us through the years’ and give a nod to the next 20 years of soul-mending melodies that Kaligis knows only music can provide.

For CD purchases, lessons, or bookings: jakekaligis.com or [email protected]

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