Young Rising Blues Star.... But Not
JUST The Blues
Fulks Jr. now known as JL Fulks was born in Fountain
Inn, South Carolina in 1990. At age 13, he began playing
guitar, after being inspired by his father's love for
the blues. JL’s immediate prowess with the instrument
led to him joining The Praise Band at Pleasant Grove
When his father noticed his son’s abilities, he
gave him the Stevie Ray Vaughan album "Texas Flood"
and told him, "If you're going to play guitar,
play it like that” after listening to the album
that, that is what JL wanted to do with his life and
has stuck with guitar ever since. At one time he considered
being a professional golfer when younger and also studied
mechanical engineering a little bit in college. But
always knew that he was a performer. It's one of those
things he just knew he was born to do.
This was the first of many musical inspirations
as he honed his skills in The Praise Band. Performances
both inside and outside of school led to shows with
other bands and playing in diverse venues before bigger
audiences, some as large as 5000 people. Playing in
The Praise Band taught young JL a lot about music and
he soon joined a rock group in high school. The group
ended up winning his high school’s “Battle
of the Bands.”
In 2009, JL formed a rock band called Until
Next Time, with three musicians from the local music scene.
The band was very popular in the Greenville, South Carolina
region and eventually won a "Battle of the Bands"
competition, sponsored by Gorilla Productions -- a local independent
label. The band parlayed their success by winning the finals
at a club called The Handlebar. They were subsequently voted
Greenville's best rock band and were awarded free recording
time at Sit-n-Spin Studios, as well as a headline opportunity
at The Handlebar. Things were looking up for the popular band
as several independent labels were interested in signing them,
but creative differences among the members led to the band
breaking up before any success could be achieved.
Undeterred by the band's break up, JL decided
to further his musical knowledge by studying jazz with Adam
Knight, an instructor at the University of South Carolina.
Under Knight, JL's musical evolution branched out to jazz,
blues and other styles. It was blues music that touched him
the most. JL started writing his own blues songs and performing
them throughout the area for most of 2010.
When his family moved to South Florida in
2011, JL continued his musical education by enrolling with
Berklee College of Music's online extension program. This
afforded him the opportunity to study with some of the world’s
best guitar and music instructors. While studying with Berklee,
JL began making a name for himself in South Florida by performing
every night. JL began performing with a local cover band called
"The Flyers" and recorded his first EP "Dixie
Highway" with Patrick Farinas.
It wasn't long before his abilities were recognized
and JL was being asked to sit in with many successful and
talented musicians. He has shared the stage with such names
as Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Matt Schofield,
Chris Duarte, JP Soars and the Red Hots, Rickey Godfrey, Mac
Arnold and the Plate Full of Blues Band, Victor Wainwright
& The Wildroots, Damon Fowler, Southern Hospitality, Brandon
Santini and his Band, Muggie Doo (Buddy Miles Express), Tom
Holland (James Cotton Band), Boo Boo Davis, David Shelley
and Bluestone, Bob Corritore, John Nemeth, Terry Hanck, Jeff
Prine, and Patrick Farinas.
The Memphis Experience
Persistence paid off when JL was approached
by Brandon Santini in the fall of 2013. After seeing JL perform
at the Funky Biscuit one night with David Shelley and Bluestone,
Santini asked JL to play guitar for his band. JL relocated
to Memphis, Tennessee in December of 2013, after three successful
tours to play full-time in Brandon Santini's band. Seeing
how Brandon ran his band and how all the other Memphis bands
did was a great experience. JL paid attention and picked up
on everything. Now he is applying alot of what he learned
to his own band.
JL worked as Brandon's
right hand man for eight months where he opened the
show for Brandon and drove the band as his lead guitarist
and vocalist at every show. He toured the country and
headlined with Brandon at many great blues clubs such
as Buddy Guy's Legends in Chicago, Bradfordville Blues
Club, Boston's on The Beach, The Slippery Noodle, The
Rum Boogie Cafe, The Blues Hall and many others.
Larger showcases became the norm as the band performed
at some great blues festivals such as The Daytona Blues
Festival, The Springing the Blues Festival, and the
Southwest Florida Blues Festival where they opened for
legendary blues guitarist Johnny Winter. It didn't take
long before JL's guitar playing was noticed by blues
editors, writers, and legendary musicians.
After JL's performance at The Southwest
Florida Blues Festival, he was told by Johnny Winter's
manager that Johnny was impressed by his guitar playing
and that he insisted that she come find him immediately
bring him backstage to meet with him. The Blues legend
and the young guitar phenom had an encouraging conversation
about music and life -- quite an endorsement for young
JL Fulks. That night lives on every night he plays his
Gibson ES-335 that Johnny Winter signed. Although now,
to honor Johnny and to preserve the valued instrument,
JL mostly plays a new, Custom Shop Gibson ES-339.
After eight great months of touring
and performing frequently on world famous Beale Street
and gaining invaluable road experience, JL felt it was
time to move on to projects of his own and begin work
on his new EP. He returned to his hometown of Greenville,
South Carolina to begin writing and planning a launch
of his own band.
the dream that most musicians work For
When asked how he would change the music business,
JL replied. "I would change the course of blues music.
I feel like a big part of my mission here on earth is to help
revolutionize the blues. My generation does not get it. Simply
because hardly anyone young in the blues is being promoted.
The whole "you have to pay your dues to play the blues"
mentality is killing the blues industry. I believe legends
like Eric Clapton, BB King, and Buddy Guy could agree with
me on this because they were all stars when they were my age.
The blues is the only genre of music that does not primarily
promote young artists. There needs to be a fad that gets the
younger generation hip too the blues or it will certainly
die. This a tough task to take on considering that the majority
of young people are into electronic music. I have accepted
the challenge and have been producing blues events that only
feature young blues artists and will continue to for the years
to come. I also am taking a whole new approach to the blues
with my own music. I think if more musicians and artists accepted
the fact that there will always be people better then them
we could work more together. The reason why my band is so
tight is because no drama or ego's exist in my band. We're
a team and we work together just like the music community
Now, at 24 years old, JL Fulks has already
lived the dream that most musicians work their whole lives
to achieve. JL has relocated to South Florida and started
fronting his own trio again performing at the best clubs and
festivals in South Florida. JL continues to collaborate with
many artists and plays as a part-time sideman for some legendary
blues musicians. He is also a guitar instructor at the school
of rock and is asked frequently to record on many artists
records. The band just won the South Florida Blues Challenge
so they will be representing South Florida at the International
Blues Challenge in January. Right now the band is gaining
a strong fan base in South Florida. Playing anywhere from
Miami to Stuart, FL and headlining the biggest clubs in South
Florida as well as opening up for some international acts.
They just recorded an EP that was produced by David Shelley
and plan to record an album soon. Catch this rising star at
a venue near you!