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Style · June 11, 2018

Faces of Fauquier: Blues, bluegrass in his blood

Photo/Cassandra Brown
Bryan Jacobs still lives on the farm near Bealeton that his great grandparents purchased in the early 20th century.
You went and hung out with the better band in the area and stared at the guitar or bass player all night to see what he was doing. You learned with your peers. Part of playing music is learning how to play music with people.
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Staff Journalist
He enjoys his retired life of pickin’ and grinnin’ on the mandolin, guitar, dobro (resonator guitar), Irish bouzouki and four other stringed instruments.

Taylor Bryan Jacobs Jr. has played more than half a century.

Growing up on a dairy and hog farm near Bealeton, Mr. Jacobs got his first guitar at age 11. He recalls listening to Warrenton radio station WKCW-AM, also known as “Big K Country,” in the kitchen.

“Hearing the early country and bluegrass certainly interested me. The guitar fascinated me,” he said. “Then what happened to everyone, The Beatles and The (Rolling) Stones came along.”

In eighth grade at Fauquier High School, he joined a rock band as a bass player.

“If you played in a band, you could go to a dance and not have to dance,” he said with a chuckle. “We played rock and roll and some R&B. That band became Gas House Dirty and we played Cream, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Mountain, Cactus and Humble Pie.”

A self-taught guitarist, Mr. Jacobs honed his chops in high school by using chord books and watching friends in the late 1960s and early ’70s.

“You went and hung out with the better band in the area and stared at the guitar or bass player all night to see what he was doing,” he recalled. “You learned with your peers. Part of playing music is learning how to play music with people.”

> Video at bottom of story

A man of many talents, Mr. Jacobs also liked mechanical stuff.

“On a farm, you have to not only be a farmer, but a mechanic, machinist, carpenter, electrician, plumber and veterinarian. That was what my dad was.”

After graduating from FHS, Bryan Jacobs got his first job in Stafford County, testing diesel engines for the military, forklift endurance, tires, nuclear equipment and vehicle safety.

“It was something I guess really doesn’t happen anymore. I went to the ‘University of Hard Knocks’,” he said. “I grew up in a time when you could demonstrate your abilities to the people you worked for, and they gave you more responsibility. Unfortunately, I don’t think that exists anymore.

“It was a neat job because we were seeing things before the public. We had the military Hummer five years before the military did because it had to get tested and qualified.

“We were part of several testing and engineering groups that worked on the investigation into the (Space Shuttle) Challenger explosion,” he said. “You got to blow up things, burn things, crash cars. It was every little boy’s dream job.”

He continues to play and write music. Mr. Jacobs performs with two local bands: Remington Steel, an acoustic blues trio, and Sumerduck Run, a bluegrass group.

And, he still lives on the farm near Bealeton that his great grandparents purchased in the early 20th century.

• Age
64

• Home
Near Bealeton.

• Work
Retired nuclear technician specialist/mechanical engineer, Dominion Power at North Anna Power Station, 1989-2014; engineer, National Technical Systems testing facility in Hartwood, 1973-89.

• Why do you do play music?
It’s a wonderful way of communicating. It makes you feel good. There’s the comradery of playing with other people.

It goes back to high school. Those of us in the original band . . . if it hadn’t had been for music, I don’t know what we would’ve been doing. More times than not, every afternoon after school, we were in the basement playing. We wore the grooves off of records . . . to the point we would learn entire albums all the way through.

I truly feel it’s a gift. It’s one of the things I thank God for — that I’ve been given this gift to make other people feel good.

• Family
Wife, Barbara; children, Taylor “Jay” II, Jeremy and Emily; brother, Robert, and sister, Bonnie Embrey.

• Education
Fauquier High School, 1972.

• Civic and/or church involvement
Member Grace Episcopal Church, Casanova; Fauquier County Architectural Review Board, Lee District representative, 2015 to present; Fauquier County election officer at Morrisville Precinct, 2015-present; bluegrass musician with Sumerduck Run, 2000 to present; blues musician with Remington Steel, 1990 to present.

• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
My whole life.

• Why do you live here?
I certainly like it. Fauquier is a unique place. Fauquier, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, was really a different place than Culpeper, Rappahannock or Stafford, it seemed like. There was a little bit more sense of otherworldly feel.

Part of it may have been from Vint Hill. At high school, we were getting exposed to kids coming from California, Hawaii. We had friends in high school with completely different backgrounds. Music was changing. It seemed like Fauquier, Warrenton became more interested in the arts to a sense.

• How do you describe this county?
It has certainly changed over the years. When I was growing up it was Fauquier County — the heart of the horse and cattle country. There are still a lot of horses. There are quite a few cattle, but they’re mostly all beef cattle now.

When I was in 4-H and FFA, basically what you studied was dairy farming, at least in Southern Fauquier. Now the horse business is everywhere. Now it’s pleasure equestrians.

I go back and remember all these places that were hayfields and now are shopping centers. Just on the two major roads where we live, Savannah Branch Road and Morgansburg Road, there were 10 dairy farms shipping milk off those two roads. At that time, everyone around us was shipping milk and now I can only think of two or three in the county doing it.

• What would you change about Fauquier?
A few years ago Fauquier had the chance to get manufacturing and other jobs, something other than service industry through whatever decisions were made we didn’t get what Prince William, Culpeper and Stafford got. It would’ve been nice to have created jobs in Fauquier County and kept graduates here other than working in construction or the service industry. It’s hard to run a county on real estate taxes.

• What do you do for fun?
Photography, collect antique tractors, farm (make hay), read, listens to music and reads about music.

• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
Home. My great grandfather purchased it in 1911.Then the property next door was my great-grandfather’s on my mother’s side. My parents were next-door neighbors originally.

Another favorite place is called the Hogue Tract. It starts at Kelly’s Ford and goes up river. It was originally donated to the county to be a park, but it’s shared with the C.F. Phelps Wildlife Management area.

• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
I don’t know. We seem to have gotten into the stage of large-scale development, and I don’t think we have all the infrastructure to support it. I don’t have information to support it, but we will probably need four more middle schools, and I’m not sure how the county will pay for any of it.

• Favorite TV show?
“The Big Bang Theory” and “Game of Thrones.”

• Favorite movie?
“It’s a Wonderful Life” for a classic and “The Crow.”

• Favorite book?
“Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury; books by James Patterson, David Baldacci, Kurt Vonnegut and J.R.R. Tolkien. Right now, I’m into Jo Nesbo.

• Favorite vacation spot?
We tend do a lot of traveling up and down the Shenandoah Valley. My wife is really into genealogy. We’ll spend several days crawling courthouses so she can do research. We’ll do antique hunting, too.

Our favorite vacation was to Germany and Paris last year.

• Favorite food?
Old Town Steak and Seafood in Fredericksburg — the stuffed shrimp and crab soup.

• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
I don’t know that it was ever said, but my father’s example, the way he lived his life was some of the best advice someone could ever get. He was a man of few words.

Save money. Start as early as you can, save as much as you can and as often as you can. Put it away and forget it. My father always said don’t go into debt.

• Who’s your hero and why?
My father, Taylor Jacobs Sr. My father’s example of how he lived his life. He lived by his words and meant what he said. When he said something, you listened.

• What would you do if you won $5 million in the lottery?
Probably end up giving away about half of it. I think it’s our place in the world to take care of each other. That’s one of the things Jesus taught us.

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Do you know someone who lives in Fauquier County you would like to see in Faces of Fauquier? E-mail Cassandra Brown at cbrown@fauquiernow.com, Don Del Rosso at don@fauquiernow.com or Editor Lou Emerson at LKE@FauquierNow.com.

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