A Tribute to Jake Pavlica

If there’s one thing that local musician Jake Pavlica understood better than anyone else, it was how to live precisely in the moment. For better, and sometimes for worse, the quick-witted twenty something always knew how to put a smile on the faces of everyone he encountered. 

With musical influences to the likes of Townes Van Zandt, Woody Guthrie and Tom Waits – Pavlica was a one-man show without the need for any extra bells and whistles. He was also a connoisseur of poetry and spoken word, and took influence from the infamous Charles Bukowski. 

Pavlica fought a long-standing battle with depression and drug addiction, and in February, he passed away at the age of 28.

From the Vault

One of Pavlica’s unreleased performances took place in 2016 at a studio then called Sixtyten. At that time, I was hosting shows somewhat frequently there, and had asked Jake to be the opening act for this one. 

The set, in its entirety, can be downloaded from BandCamp (jakepavlica.bandcamp.com). The songs are free to download, but any money given for them will be donated to BeInstrumental (beinstrumental.org) – a local nonprofit Jake worked with that gives opportunities in music to youth in the region. 

Pavlica’s set will also be aired on a weekly rotation on 106.1 WAKT – a local radio station that supports community initiatives and artists in the area. For more information on that, visit toledoradio.org.

Early Years

“I met him in kindergarten, our moms became friends and we became best friends,” says lifelong friend and musical counterpart Bernie Iannone. “We discovered a lot of music together and influenced each other’s tastes.” He recalls the two of them getting their first guitars around the same time in grade school. 

The two remained best friends despite attending different high schools. “We would still hang out frequently, he was very quickly loved by everyone and became very popular,” says Iannone – recalling that Pavlica was crowned Homecoming King his senior year at Cardinal Stritch. 

Though having aspirations in biology and being an avid birdwatcher, he decided to skip the college route and focus on his music. 

Friends Around Town

Along his musical journey, Pavlica became friends with Jake Pilewski – well-known musician and creative throughout the local circuits. “I met him in 2018 when he was working at the Black Cloister Brewery. I had seen him perform open mic gigs a couple times before that,” says Pilewski. The two began hanging out there more frequently, and began promoting live music at the Cloister. “We wanted to give the Warehouse District something of a more professional presentation for local musicians – something beyond an open mic gig,” says Pilewski. 

Unfortunately, the Black Cloister closed down, but the two remained friends long after. In sharing stories about some of Pavlica’s antics and the joy he would bring to people, Pilewski recalls a time when they met up with a group of friends at the Attic on Adams – “He came up to me and I picked him up and put him over my shoulders and walked around the bar like he was my kid. The bartenders thought we were all hammered,” says Pilewski. When one of the bartenders warned them about getting cut off, Pilewski told them “I’ve only had one beer.” 

According to Pilewski, what made Pavlica so likable was that “his songs felt very open and honest. And It was a nice contrast – many of the songs are sad, but he spoke in between giving the audience some comic relief.” 

“The sound captured in these recordings fits him perfectly,” says Pilewski. “I’m really glad these files were uncovered because they really add to the legacy of Jake Pavlica.” 

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