Wednesday, September 19

Shakey Jake, on the move to the great beyond

RIP Shakey Jake, the patron saint of Ann Arbor, known for his friendly visage, outrageous outfits (full-length, year-round fur coats, floppy brimmed hat) and eclectic guitar playing -- his instrument rarely had more than a few out-of-tune strings, and in his latter years he dispensed with strings all together.

He was still a pretty kick-ass blues player though -- click here to check out his tune 'Fat Bacon,' part of a record he made back in the '70s.

Ask any Ann Arborite if they "Brake for Jake" and you'll get a knowing smile. He was a fixture in downtown for decades. Despite the (sub)urban myth that he was a secret millionaire, in fact he lived off of Social Security, a support system of friendly local shopkeepers who kept him fed and housed, and -- in the form of the "I Brake For Jake" bumper stickers and T-Shirts which he sold -- the kindness of strangers.

Of course, no one was ever really a stranger to Shakey Jake, just as he was known and loved by the entire town. Lots of good obits and writes here, here, here, and here, and I heartily endorse the commenters who say that Jake deserves a New Orleans style wake through the streets of Ace Deuce. I'll be in town this weekend, so I hope it happens!

Keep on trucking, Jake.

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