Trumpeter DeCarlo Jackson is a rising name in the Twin Cities music community. A student of mentors like local jazz musicians Kevin Washington and Solomon Parham, the twentysomething has been influenced by the past, but goes his own way as an artist.
After spending two years studying music at the University of Manitoba, Jackson returned home to the Twin Cities, where he is now a full-time member of Hippo Campus. Although he spends a lot of his time on tour with the band, he is also heavily involved in the local music scene. His own quartet, Arlo, celebrates its one-year anniversary tomorrow at Hodges Bend in St. Paul and he’s proud of how far the group has come.
“I feel like we’re at the cusp of our potential as a group,” Jackson said. “Even though we’ve been at this for a while, we’re just starting to take shape and it makes me pretty excited.”
For Jackson, being on tour with Hippo Campus is fun. It’s a chance for him to travel around the country and has been an adventure that he looks forward to. But even though he enjoys being on tour, it isn’t always easy he said.
“When you think about it, you’re being forced into a really tiny apartment on wheels with people you don’t live with,” Jackson reflected. “It’s learning how to balance out everyone’s emotions so that everyone’s happy. […] We’re all in such a small space, so it’s kind of funny. It’s hard, but it’s definitely fun. I’ve been playing music professionally for a long time, but in no way was I prepared to be a professional musician. I feel like I’m learning as I go.”
That’s why playing with Arlo is so important to Jackson. When he’s back home in the Twin Cities, he spends the majority of his time learning how to grow his craft and find his voice as a musician. Performing with Arlo gives him the space to do just that.
“It’s kind of nice that I can come back in between tours and play these really long sets that make me have to be more creative by playing and being more judicious about how I breathe,” said Jackson. “Because breathing is important over the course of a three-hour set, as opposed to 55-minute Hippo sets. You have to breathe way different to play that.”
But outside of the music itself, what is most fulfilling to Jackson is performing and sharing the stage with other musicians.
“Whenever I’m performing, every interaction that I have with everyone onstage is meaningful. Like people play things that cause me to laugh physically or feel sad, I have very physical reactions to music. I feel like if I stopped playing it, I would have less physical reactions in life, which kind of scares me, so in a sense I don’t think I should stop.”
Arlo’s one-year anniversary party also includes Radiochurch, Purple Funk Metropolis, FPA, Wired for Sound, Lucia Sarmiento, and Jake Baldwin. More information is available on Arlo’s Facebook page.
Simone Cazares is a student at Metropolitan State University. Originally from Miami, Fla., she survives Minnesota’s cruel winters by immersing herself in the Twin Cities music scene.