Seventeen-year-old Silas Luke Jones is well known in the community for his unique finger-style guitar playing, strong voice and captivating stage presence.
A solo acoustic guitarist and aspiring singer/songwriter, Jones has performed in and around Homer, including most recently with a group of U.S. military veteran musicians at his family’s wedding venue, AK Diamond J Ranch, and the Homer Chamber of Commerce Summer Solstice Festival.
“It was really eye opening to perform with musicians who play for a living,” Jones said. “Their support and kind words meant a lot to me and left me feeling like I’m definitely on the right path.”
Jones owns eight guitars and while he can play every genre that can be played on a guitar, he prefers to play rock in a percussive finger style, using his fingers to pick the strings and using the body of the guitar as a drum kit, enabling him to play drums, lead, rhythm, harmonies and anything else he can fit into one instrument.
From yearly recitals in his younger years and playing regularly in front of his church family, Jones’ first official public performance was during an open mic night at Alice’s Champagne Palace in 2021 when he was 15 years old. That summer, he competed at the Kenai Peninsula Fair, won first place and qualified for the Alaska’s Got Talent competition at the Alaska State Fair, where he also took first place and won $2,500, which he used to pay off his guitar.
In 2022, he played with local musician Jim Maloney at Concert on the Green and at SalmonFest. This year, he has played at his sister’s wedding, Bear Creek Winery, the Down East Saloon, Land’s End Resort, the Kachemak Bay Shorebird Festival, Winter King Salmon Derby, Homer Elks Lodge,and the Seldovia Music Festival. At that festival, he also taught a workshop alongside fellow musician, Christie Lenee.
“Christie is such a skilled guitarist and has such a captivating stage presence,” Jones said. “She enjoys herself so much on stage and that is something I want to bring to my own performances.”
This fall, Jones and his family will travel to the Walnut Valley Festival in Kansas for the International Finger Style Competition where he and 49 other musicians will compete, with the winner receiving a new guitar, $3,000 and the opportunity to perform a solo show at the Kansas Winfield Fair. Currently fundraising for the trip, Jones has raised $7,000 from five solo shows around the community and has received scholarships from the Homer-Kachemak Bay Rotary Club and the Ladies Emblem Club.
From Kansas, Jones and his parents will drive to Nashville, where he will attend a guitar camp with guitarist Tommy Emmanuel.
“Tommy is such a fun person to watch on stage, and while I haven’t met him yet, I’ve heard that he is the same happy person on stage as he is off stage, which is something I aspire to,” Jones said. “I’ve also heard that he’s a really great person and that’s a reputation I want too.”
In addition to guitar, Jones plays banjo, violin, ukulele and bass. He got his first guitar as a Christmas present when he was 8 years old and has since the age of 10 been studying music theory and learning the intricacies of the guitar and other instruments, including acoustic guitar lessons and music theory from Tim White and violin lessons with Tia Pietsch with the Harbor School of Music and Dance and electric guitar with Patrick Napier with Moore Music. When his formal lessons were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones turned to YouTube to learn from musicians online, which he continues to do today.
Jones has for the past several years been arranging music, writing his own songs, taking vocal lessons with local Jim Anderson and singing at his solo shows. The first song he wrote and composed is called “Stories,” a traditional Irish ballad, and is available on Spotify. Writing songs to build up his repertoire, he hopes to record several more songs this winter and is also working to build his social media presence.
Looking to a future as a full-time touring musician, he recently applied for a sponsorship opportunity with Taylor Guitars in California. If successful, he would be noted as a “Taylor artist,” with the company supplying his guitar, helping to market him and the possibility of a Silas Jones signature guitar.
Sharing his love for music, Jones teaches guitar lessons to several students between the ages of 8 and 15 years old.
“I love teaching and showing these kids what it means to play the guitar, to share the instrument and my knowledge and to share with them the songs that inspire me and listen to the songs that inspire them,” he said. “My advice for aspiring musicians is to listen to music that sounds good to you, develop your own style and practice a lot.”
Producing music in a small studio in his family’s home, Jones often spends four to six hours a day in the 11-foot by 13-foot humidity-controlled space, dividing his time between home school classes, household chores and his music. His parents Stephanie and Billy serve as his sound techs and roadies and are excited to watch their son grow artistically.
“We come from a very close-knit homestead farming family and we want Silas to be able to travel, share his gifts and talents with the world and know that he has a place to come home to,” Stephanie Jones said. “We’re very proud of him.”
Currently preparing for the finger style competition this fall, Jones will be performing at local pop ups and venues this summer, as well as booking private events. Find him in Ninilchik this August at the Kenai Peninsula State Fair and in Homer this September as part of the Alaska World Arts Festival.
“So many people have been supportive of me in so many ways,” he said. “I’m grateful to my family, friends and community.”