The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Lions of music: Jack Lion closing out tour with home performance Friday at the Mill


Taxis, jazz, and ambient music seem an unlikely mix. But for the members of Jack Lion, they are the perfect fit.

Jack Lion will perform at the Mill at 9 p.m. Friday. The band is made up of Iowa City natives and University of Iowa alumni Justin LeDuc, Brian Lewis Smith, and Drew Morton. They’ve worked together for many years.

“A really good part of being a band is getting along with the people you play with,” LeDuc said. “We’ve always sort of been playing jazz together.”

Bands often come up with hard and elaborate names. They make the mistake of choosing names that are complicated and not easily pronounced, he said.

The band’s original name was Slip Silo, but that was changed after their guitarist moved to California. When visiting him, the remaining three members found their new name.

“We got in a cab with a driver whose name sounds a lot like Jack Lion. He was this amazing free-spirited person,” LeDuc said. “No one, when they’re kids, says they want to be a cab driver. But this guy really seemed to love being a cab driver, the people who got in his car, and entertaining us. We thought this guy was so cool, so we should changed the name.”

LeDuc, the drummer, got his start in music through his father. Beginning when he was 12, his father played drums for years, including in a band in college. LeDuc grew fond of hearing the drums at night, and his father started teaching him to play when LeDuc was 7.

“I was lucky to have a musical father,” LeDuc said.

In addition to playing rehearsed music, Jack Lion also improvises. Smith writes a lot of music with software Ableton Live, which many bands, including Skrillex, use. During the songs, the members allow time for each member to improvise musical solos.

Being in a band can be tough because of the long hours, testing sound, performing, and then going back on the road. Jack Lion only tours during the spring, but it can still be exhausting.

“We’ve really learned to just enjoy the real experience of it,” LeDuc said. “Being in the car, you know, jerking around, meeting new people at gigs who we wouldn’t usually get to meet — I just like the whole process of it.”

Morton creates images to use for the set, too. so that visuals can be used with the music.

Jack Lion likes coming home to perform in Iowa City near the end of its tours, LeDuc said.

“We really look forward to Iowa City shows because we’ve been out, playing these string of shows, we have new music, and playing to the home crowd is really exciting,” LeDuc said. “ I like to do the Iowa City at the end of the show so we really have a chance to get comfortable with our new stuff.”


Jack Lion

When: 9 p.m. Friday

Where: Mill, 120 E. Burlington

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