Local Americana singer-songwriter Jay Lingo moved to the Santa Cruz area in 2005. When he first got here, he hit the ground running, playing as many gigs as possible. He’d already been playing music in Pennsylvania, originally hailing from a modest, working-class neighborhood in Philly, and later moving to a rural part of the state. He channeled various influences of rock ’n’ roll, country and punk rock into his music.
“I like many different kinds of music. Once you put a label on your music, all anybody wants to do is tell you that you’re not ‘outlaw’ enough, or you’re too ‘country,’” Lingo says. “If I want to write a rocker, I will. If I want to write a whiskey-and-steel-guitar-drenched country waltz, I’ll do that, too.”
Lingo, who’s a rancher in Aromas, is now a lot more selective about the gigs he takes. With two kids and a business to take care of, a show has to be worth his while. When he does play, it’s usually at the urging of other artists, like Jesse Daniel.
“It’s nice to be in a place in my life where I don’t have to go out and play bar gigs for next to nothing,” Lingo says. “I get to pick the ones I want to play, and luckily there are some great people in town who still think my music is worth it.”
Throughout his life, he’s used music as a means of therapy. He’s worked out some of his demons in his music. As a father, he views his creative output a little differently. No matter how often he plays, he’s still writing all the time.
“I had some really bad habits that I was writing about, and I was singing those songs in bars full of people who had similar habits,” Lingo says. “I’m really trying to write music that my boys will be proud to hear. I’m trying to keep it positive.”
INFO: 9 p.m. Friday, March 15. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $10 adv/$15 door. 479-1854.