Miles Tackett has been a professional musician for over 20 years. The 45-year-old Highland Park resident plays guitar, bass, cello and more. He’s played around the globe founded several influential, long-running weekly parties in L.A. and possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of the city’s musical history.
Tackett’s solo debut, the independently released The Fool Who Wonders, is out this week. The guitar-centric record marks a return to his roots, after decades of playing other instruments.
Raised in rustic, bohemian Topanga Canyon, Tackett’s musical proclivity was practically his birthright. A guitarist and trumpet player, Tackett’s father was a session musician in the ‘60s before joining rock band Little Feat, who Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page once called his “favorite American group.”
Coincidentally, a British musician crashing at the Tackett home taught Miles, age 8, to play fretless slide guitar. A traditional electric six-string soon followed.
Taking his father’s lead, Tackett formed the band Inclined in his early teens. By 15, he decided that music would be his lifelong pursuit. “[I said],‘I’m going to make music that has integrity, music that I feel proud of, and survive doing it,’” he explains now.
Inclined eventually released an album on Columbia in 1993, but supporters at the label left soon after. A follow-up didn't come to pass, and Inclined disbanded a few years later.
But, with a rapidly-growing interest in the funk/soul songs sampled on his favorite hip-hop albums, Tackett picked up the bass and played covers of said songs with a new band at a local coffeehouse. The Tuesday jams became known as The Breaks and hosted performances from DJs and L.A. underground rap groups Dilated Peoples and Jurassic 5. The Breaks also begat Tackett’s funk/soul band Breakestra, which has released music on several independent labels, including Stones Throw.
Though The Breaks fell apart after one year, the party's dissolution lead Tackett to co-found The Root Down, a seminal L.A. weekly that ran for roughly 15 years. Folks like the late DJ Dusk played everything from funk and hip-hop to cumbia, and Tackett even learned to DJ himself.
Quickly developing skills behind the turntables, Tackett then founded Funky Sole, the wildly popular party that we've called “The Best Club For People Who Don't Like Clubs,” and happens every Saturday night at the Echo. It's now in its 15th year.
Tackett focused on The Fool Who Wonders over the last year. Returning to guitar, he recorded on analogue tape in his home-studio. In addition to songwriting and singing duties, Tackett also played many of the instruments himself.
Though it's a diverse album that reflects Tackett’s wide-ranging tastes and various musical excursions, Jimi Hendrix is a clear influence. “It wasn’t conscious,” Tackett explains. “[Hendrix’s records] were sitting around [my childhood] house.”
Tackett will perform these new soulful and psychedelic-tinged tracks at the Bootleg tomorrow night, July 10, and at Hotel Café on July 24. He’s noticeably excited, grateful that he’s kept his promise to his 15-year-old self.
“I’m very happy to be able to survive and keep on creating music,” he says. “I’m blessed in that way.”