Headwaters Inspired Profile: Jay Kipps


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Musical inspiration handed down from father to son

From the day he was born, Jay Kipps was surrounded by art and music. Both his father and step-mother were artists and art teachers, his father at University of Toronto, his step-mother at Ontario College of Art & Design.

“Art and the making of art was always very big in our house when I was growing up,” said Kipps. “My dad also had a big music collection, and many musician buddies. His best friend was Stan Rogers and we knew Ronnie Hawkins and we’d go to his cottage. I met Robbie Robertson there too.”

The most important thing Kipps learned from his father

Kipps watched his father making various types of art, and he had a critical insight.

“My dad painted, made sculpture, even art that involved electronics. What struck me is that when he wanted to try something new, he’d have to learn everything about it. So, for example if he wanted to cast something in bronze, he would learn all the steps to do that, which he did.”

Seeing something – a finished bronze sculpture – created from nothing, was a turning point and an inspiration for Kipps to start taking music to the next level.

“For me, that created a sense of capability.” Kipps laughs, “Maybe unrealistic, but I thought I could do the same with music. Learn everything I needed to write songs, play instruments, have a band, make records… the whole thing. And I did.”

Music and more in a smaller community

Like many people, Kipps moved to Headwaters from Toronto.

“I like living in a smaller town because I can get more involved civically, to participate in the community,” said Kipps. “I have a degree in environmental studies, so I’m very interested in our environment here.”

On the music front, The Jay Kipps Band has 15 new songs that are in production and getting ready for their debut. They’re looking forward to touring again and in particular, playing the Orangeville Blues & Jazz Festival.

“Our band likes playing festivals,” said Kipps. “We’ve had some interesting road adventures. On an East Coast tour, we had a classic baby blue 1982 VW bus, which blew one tire after another. Finally, we found a VW club member who had garage. He gave us new rims and tires. We were so thankful, so I had to write a song about it.”

In retrospect, Kipps also offers apologies to anyone stuck behind their little bus. “It would only do 60 going up hills. I’m sorry, that’s as fast as it went.”

Go to jaykippsband.com, to keep up with the Jay Kipps Band touring and new music.