Jacob Tovar didn’t set out to be a musician. The Tulsa-based musician grew up with [Sidenote: This is the sixth post in our coverage of the twenty-second annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival. We’ll be alternating our reporting with essays and photo galleries from the sixteenth festival in 2013, so check in often for a mix of old and new Woodyfest goodness.] a deep, abiding love of classic country music, particularly from the ’50s and ’60s. In an interview in the Tulsa World he name-checked Marty Robbins, Hank Thompson, Hank Williams, and Merle Haggard as examples of “roots” country musicians he admires. [Sidenote: Tramel, Jimmie, “Jacob Tovar Bringing Country Flavor to Hop Jam Audience,” tulsaworld.com, 15 May 2019. ]
But when he moved from his parent’s Perry, Oklahoma [Sidenote: Tovar was born in Stillwater but grew up in Perry.] farm to Tulsa in 2009 he found himself surrounded by like-minded musicians, including Paul Benjaman and Woodyfest regular Jared Tyler, who encouraged him to
get […] up on stage and […] just start doing it. I had always loved that old, classic country style, and I knew I could sing it really well and I thought, man, I’m going to start doing that. [Sidenote: Tovar, quoted in ibid.] Eleven years later, he has a regular Thursday night spot at famed nightspot The Colony, or at least he did until COVID-19 shut down all the bars and restaurants.
Tovar’s mother imparted his melodic sense when she taught young Jacob to whistle, and his late brother inspired him to begin playing the guitar. His music borrows reverently from western swing and honky-tonk. Bob Wills’ spirit suffuses songs such as “Three Good Reasons” and “One Track Minded Baby.” [Sidenote: The latter musician was based in Tulsa, too, having uprooted his band, The Playboys, from Waco, Texas, and resettled them in T-Town with a name-change to the The Texas Playboys.] Both songs may be found on Tovar’s sole release to-date, 2014’s Jacob Tovar and the Saddle Tramps.
Tovar is currently working on an album with producer Isaac Hanson and a music video with filmmaker Sterlin Harjo, both to be released soon.