Many people dream of making it big in Hollywood, but one of our own Scioto County boys has done just that and continually makes his hometown proud.
Jacob Tolliver grew up in West Portsmouth and has been performing live shows since 2008. Tolliver siai he took piano lessons when he was in the third grade from Mary Smally also of West Portsmouth. Unfortunately, it only lasted about nine months. He said that she went to his parents and said something like it just wasn’t a good fit for him. He said that their talents did not align. She said he was reading all the notes properly, and he said he was doing everything improperly. He didn’t like piano lessons at all. He said he did a play for about five years.
Tolliver told of his next time working with music, “I was cleaning my bedroom one day, and I had my keyboard under there and I plugged it in, dusted it off, and started playing. I was playing a kind of like rock and roll baseline, and my dad was walking through the house and popped his head in my door, and asked if that was me and I said yes, and he said, ‘don’t stop, you’re into something.’ So, the rest is history. I guess as for the piano lessons, I wanted to play by ear and my ear took over more than what my eyes were doing on a page.
Tolliver laughed when asked where he lived most of the time, as he said, “they tell me Los Angeles, it’s where I pay my rent, but it seems like I’m never there.” He said he had been out there for about two years now. He has been in Nashville, Tennessee quite a bit, writing and working with Rick Ferrell. “He and I are coming up with some really good stuff, and between all the shows everywhere, I’ve been everywhere, but here.”(LA) He said he does really like it there, but he wasn’t sure if he would have if he had moved there first from Ohio. “It is different, going to Vegas from Ohio. Vegas is so different, it’s a dry oven, the desert. So, after being there four years, coming to LA seeing water, trees, and grass it’s kind of like a feeling of being back home sometimes.”
He told a story of when he was three years old, before he ever really knew what Hollywood was, “I told my grandmother and parents, I’m going to go out to Hollywood and help Steve one day.” He was referring to “Blues Clues’s Steve, that he watched all the time as a boy.
Tolliver’s parents still live here in Scioto County on the West side, so he tries to get here as much as he can. He will be in town for the Winterfest that is being put on in Portsmouth. On December 15th, he will be here for the record breaking Caroling Event that they are holding there. Mike Reiss and he will be emceeing, playing two or three Christmas songs, and emceeing the rest of the evening.
When asked about all the people he has worked with since being a well-known artist, he immediately said Jerry Lee Lewis was his favorite. He is currently touring with him right now. “It’s incredible, that we line up with so many parallels so well musically, and I am a better match than anyone else would be. I enjoy it so much, if you would have told 13 or 12 year old me that I would actually be opening up for Jerry Lee, I would have told you, you were lying. It is really a life changing opportunity to do that. My goal is to keep that rock and roll piano torch alive and him allowing me to open the show, letting that happen and endorsing that, it’s really an incredible thing.”
He humorously said that all he dreamed of was working with stars like Jerry Lee. He says to people when asked this, “I made it happen, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and be a part of, there’s something about being able to be a known musician. You make people happy, life is always good, because people are coming up to you and you’re making people’s days all the time. It’s a cool spot to be in to have that talent and God given gift, to make people happy, is again incredible.”
Tolliver spoke of working with Jodie Sweetin, from ‘Full House and Fuller House,’ on the single, they have released together, “Santa Baby.”
He was at the age, where he watched Full House as a kid, and said it was a kind of weird experience. He said he found himself a few years back, kind of emerged in this Full House family through friends of friends. “I got introduced to the creator of Full House, Jeff Franklin, and Jeff has become one of my best friends now. He hosts these crazy outlandish Hollywood dinner parties, everybody in the world come to these parties. The way it works, Jeff hosts a dinner and then afterwards, he kind of moves everybody into his living room, where there’s a big grand piano and he has a mini stage set up, and people just start jamming and then it turns into a big jammin’ night. You have Tom Jones singing until 5 a.m. in the morning, or the Beach Boys or the Rolling Stones showed up one time and because of Jeff being the creator of Full House, you naturally have all the cast of Full House end up being at these parties. I eventually became close to a lot of these people and some are like family and Jodie being one of them. It kinda of naturally happened, because a few years ago, Jodie took up an interest in singing and Jeff gave her a song on Fuller House and she performed it on the show and then sold it on iTunes.”
Tolliver continued, “We eventually started doing duets at these parties, just playing around. Then last year, I asked her about doing a song and that’s how ‘Santa Baby’ came about.”
Tolliver has shows leading up to next year and he said, “I have recently recorded an album and that will hopefully come out sometime next year. I have another single that will not be on the album. In the meantime, Rick and I will be writing and probably have enough now to go in the studio and have a great album of material. We have a big selection to pick from. Hopefully by the second half of the year, we’ll be in the studio recording my originals. I absolute love to write my songs. Being that we both grew up on the West side, he’s really helping to tailor songs directly to me. Lyrically, I m not the strongest, so Rick’s more the words and we are both more the music. It has been great and the system we have, works well. We are both super excited, it has a super sound, it’s very Jacob Tolliver.”
Tolliver has also done some acting and says that he would like to act again. “It’s really hard being able to balance both sides of the coin. You’re kind of either putting all your eggs in the musician basket or all your eggs in the acting basket. So, I haven’t been able to do as much as I’d like to, but I will do it again.”
Where he would like to, be in ten years, he said he would like to be selling out every arena across the world. He would love to see himself in a position, where he changed the world, like Jerry Lee changed the world. The goal is never to copy anyone, but to keep this torch alive, going on an upwards trajectory, to keep the piano crazy vibe from disappearing. “Jerry was among ten others who invented a musical genre, the odds of me creating a musical genre are slim.”
Tolliver wants to be that musician that makes people happy and clap and sing to his work, “and change people ‘s lives for the better, because of the God given gift I have.” He had just turned 25, a few days ago and said he got to spend it with Jerry Lee. He said he had never walked away from Jerry Lee, not learning something, whether he’s onstage or shooting the breeze or whatever it is. “There is always something I learn, it’s incredible, he has amazing stories, he truly is a gentleman. At the end of the day, he is a normal guy living a normal life. He and his family have all become close with me, and I’m having Thanksgiving dinner with them.”
Tolliver wanted to mention that ‘Santa Baby’ is down loadable on all platforms, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, and Apple Music. He also wanted his fans to know that his social media handles are all just his name, Jacob Tolliver, and he has a new site available, JacobTolliver.com
Jacob Tolliver has come a long way, since those early days of piano lessons, but he is a young man that has reached his childhood goal of becoming successful, and yet, he has never forgotten where he came from and still loves to come home, when he has the time.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins (740) 353-3101 ext. 1928