JINGLE BELL ROCK

Written By: Joshua Bradford Gray | Photography By: Kit Noble

Local rock ’n’ roller Jordin Graves releases his first Christmas album this December.

Jordin Graves knows how to rock. A promising musical talent, Graves has earned local fans at open mic nights as well as at the Dreamland’s annual competition, Nantucket’s Got Talent. Yet what many of this rock guitarist and drummer’s fans might not know is he has a deep love of Christmas music. “I probably listen to it for two months straight every year,” the eighteen-year-old Graves said. “It’s just so much more positive and joyful than most things you hear.” Over the past year, Graves has channeled this love into recording his own Christmas album, which will be released this month.

At first slated to feature a handful of originals combined with some well-known seasonal standards—including his favorite holiday tune, “This Christmas” as performed by Donny Hathaway—the record’s final cut ended up featuring only originals. “After I began writing, I realized I could fill the record with my own music. I love the vibe of ‘This Christmas,’ and all the songs on the record really have that, combined with some Khalid and Mac DeMarco,” he said.

Graves will self-release this first full-length effort on the major streaming services such as Apple Music and Spotify. Most if not all of the songs will include lyrics and vocals by the young artist. “Nothing else makes me happy the way music does; it has really helped me,” he said. “I had bad anxiety in middle school and early in high school, but music has been a way for me to get through things and continues to do that as I train my voice. I’ve modeled my voice on the music I listen to. I’ve never taken formal lessons but am enjoying the process and trying not to force anything.”

The son of Mary Graves and William “Winnie” Graves, a long-time bartender at the island’s famous dive bar and music venue, The Chicken Box, Graves first got his taste for music when his dad would bring him to pre-concert sound checks. From a young age, he studied the Box’s audio engineer Joel Finn as he fine-tuned the sounds for dozens of rock bands. Graves became a fan of rock and jam bands like the Grateful Dead, Twiddle, and Ripe, the last of which having played The Box several times over the years.

Having spent most of the final months of his high school career learning from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Graves channeled his energies and extra time into teaching music to other young students virtually over Zoom. “I love it,” he said. “I have eight students right now, mostly guitar, but one for drums. One of my guitar students is really getting into the bass, which is really what I love to play.”

Thinking back to those preteen years when he was first exposed to live, professional music and musicians, Graves said that drums were the instrument that immediately stood out, but he soon discovered a new one that sparked a passion. “I was fortunate to start taking band in middle school with Erik Wendelken, and while learning the drums, that is when I discovered the bass guitar,” he said. “I remember it was at a talent show I first saw how the bass can convey the feeling of a song, and how that low, heavy tone can really carry the whole sound of a band.”

He’s continued to work hard learning his instruments over the years, and while he spends little time reading music, he’s very much a student of music theory. With that solid understanding of instrumentation under his belt and a keen ear, he has revived his early fascination of the mixing/recording process, most of which he’s done at home and on his own.

“I think sound engineering is a path I’d like to follow, and I’m in the process of applying for an internship at a studio in New York, and I’m considering going to music school as well,” he said, adding that he currently makes extra money by recording bass lines for other musicians on the popular session platform Fiverr.

While he has no plans to offer a physical release of his Christmas record, Graves said he hopes that people will take a listen online when they have a chance. “My main goal is to have it be a relaxed, positivity-only kind of thing,” he said. “Something that makes people smile and releases them from their worries for a bit in this crazy world.”

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