What do the guitar, harmonica, piano, Irish tin whistle, and panpipes all have in common?
They are all played by 18-year-old Jacob “Zuko” Billings, a Pierce College student and musician.
“I play the guitar the best and I am pretty good at the piano. I mostly play the Irish tin whistle and panpipes at home,” Billings said. “I have recorded with the tin whistle, but I have not recorded with the panpipes.”
Billings’ major is undecided, but he attends a number of music classes at Pierce. He is also president of the French club on campus.
Billings’ most recent show was at the Guitar Merchant in Woodland Hills on Friday, Feb. 28.
The Guitar Merchant opened in 2006, according to owner Phil St. Germain. They wanted to have a place where new and local bands can perform, and there are no age restrictions at the venue.
“Anyone can come in and enjoy the show,” St. Germain said.
Billings had some friends and family come to watch his performance, including his father and his sister who were in the crowd.
“We saw his potential at a young age, and we kept encouraging him to play,” said his father, David Billings.
“My dad always played guitar when I was little. I always wanted a guitar, and I got one when I was eight,” Billings said. “I did not pick it up very fast, so I dropped it and then I picked it up again five years ago.”
Though he plays five instruments, the guitar and harmonica were the only ones used during his most recent performance.
“I think this is awesome,” said his sister, Gwendolyn Billings.
Jimi Hendrix was a big inspiration for Billings and his music, which along with encourangement from his family prompted him to begin practicing from an early age.
“I fell in love with music when I heard him and I just started playing,” Billings said.
The first song he played was “Foxy Lady” by Jimi Hendrix. The next was his own called “Losing,” which was more of a blue-grass interpretation according to Zuko. His final song of the night was an original called “Way to Go.”
Zuko is hoping to get more of a fan base from his performances in the future.
“I want to reach out to people. I want to get some more coverage,” Billings said.
There are no set dates for upcoming performances, but anybody looking for more information or updates can find him on Facebook and Twitter under Jacob Zuko.