Jack Simpson: the story behind the King


Photo provided by Jack Simpson

“I struggle to express myself through words, which is why I connect to music so much,” said Simpson. “When I play the guitar I can put myself out there and make my voice heard.”

Chloe Houwman, Editor-in-Chief

Picture this: you are sitting in the front row at LHS’s Homecoming game. Half-time has just started, and the marching band is approaching the field. Clad in blue and black, they begin their performance. You are taken aback by the ‘The King,’ the leading man in this part of the show, as he pulls out his guitar. This man, LHS junior Jack Simpson, has undoubtedly stolen the show.

Initially, there were no plans to feature a king in the performance, but Simpson wanted to be a part of the show. He approached LHS band director Daniel Carlson and ‘The King’ was created.

“Mr. Carlson gave me a few solos during the performance, and I also die at the end of the performance now. I’ve just been insanely happy they picked me to be ‘The King’ and I’ve had a great time doing it,” said Simpson. “We have one of the best marching band programs in the region and it would be a shame if I did not take advantage of that.”

Simpson’s musical career started seven years ago when he began playing the piano. He played for about three years before his interests landed somewhere else.

“Four years ago, I started playing the guitar, and I immediately felt like I found my passion,” said Simpson. “I also play the French horn and am a part of our symphonic band, but the guitar is still my favorite.”

Spending at least two hours a day practicing his chords, it is no surprise that Simpson has already made a career playing the guitar.

“I have opened for musicians at The District; I play solo jazz guitar gigs at The Source and I was scheduled to open for Taylor Scott Band at the Levitt at the Falls, but it was rained out,” said Simpson.

Simpson’s love of classical, jazz and blues music stems from those genres’ versatility.

“When I can’t come up with words to describe how I am feeling, I feel like I can say it through my guitar when I am playing. So, if I am in a sentimental mood or something similar, I can play a really slow ballad and take the time to portray my emotions through it,” said Simpson.

Other times when he is feeling more downcast he will take a piece that has already been written and put his own spin on it.

“The great thing about music is you can take anything, even just a classical piece that’s kind of boring, and you can make it any emotion that you want. For example, I can take an Olivia Rodrigo song and turn it into a jazz chord,” said Simpson.

Not only does he adapt existing music, but he also creates his own.

“I write music sometimes,” said Simpson. “Jazz is all about writing music so whenever I do my improv, I write the music or jazz charts.”

Two years ago, Simpson was accepted into the Summer Jazz Academy at Lincoln Center in New York City; the program was held virtually because of the pandemic. The application process required Simpson to submit a series of videos playing specific jazz standards and upload them to the Academy’s website.

“It was still an amazing experience [despite the switch to an online platform],” said Simpson. “I plan on applying again because I would ultimately like to end up at New York University or the Manhattan School of Music.”

After he graduates from college, Simpson would like to become a studio musician, someone that is hired to play on tracks or during live performances.

“I would work for a studio, and if a musician wanted some guitar on their track, they just call me up, I’d record a few tracks for them and then they would do their thing with it,” said Simpson. “I would probably end up in Nashville, New York or Boston.”

His ambition, however, does not end there.

“My end goal is to become a university professor,” said Simpson. “I would love the opportunity to specialize in teaching others how to play the guitar.”

Simpson has taken a break from live performances for the time being.

“Once school and marching band got started, it was getting harder for me to commit to performing,” said Simpson. “The great thing about being a jazz guitarist is having the ability to pick my own hours. I plan on starting up again sometime in November.”

To stay caught up with Simpson and his musical endeavors follow his Instagram, @simpson.guitar, or check out his YouTube, @JackSimpson.

“I feel more like myself when I’m playing the guitar. At this point, it feels like an extension of myself,” said Simpson.