Here’s the first blurb in a few installments detailing the Rock On Young Musician’s Workshop‘s wide assortment of instructors. Today I’ll focus on Pittsfield native Jay Fruet.
Since the moment he set foot out of high school, Mr. Fruet has been a professional musician. He studied music and art at Berkshire Community College as well as the University of Massachusetts Amherst, receiving an Associate degree in the Liberal Arts from BCC.
In the 70s Jay played guitar with legendary blues guitarist Rory Block before starting to teach guitar in 1980. In 1983 he received an Honorary Award from the International Songwriting Competition for his song “Don’t Hold On.” In 1992 Jay was named “Best Guitarist of the Berkshires” by the Berkshire Eagle for his band Black Orchid‘s album Earotica (which, according to Jay, still sells in Europe), as well as his guitar work on other musicians’ albums.
In 2003 Jay helped form the Rock On Workshop, starting out finding teachers and developing the curriculum before taking on full responsibilities as Rock On’s director. In addition to directing the camp and teaching at it, Jay is a guitar instructor at Wood Bros. Music.
In addition to all his other work, Jay has opened for Sea Level (featuing former members of the Allman Brothers), James Montgomery, The Fools and others. He has played with bassist John Ward of John Lennon’s band Elephant’s Memory and recorded many songs with David Carron, a well known singer/songwriter who penned songs for Alice Cooper and played with Elton John’s band members for a while. Jay’s own playing has been influenced by many, including The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Johnny Winter and Racmaninoff.
The arts always ran deep through Jay’s family, as his sister was a trained opera singer, his mother was a self-taught classical pianist, his older brother played guitar in bands in the early 60s and his aunt was a music teacher in the Boston area. This large mix of familial influences surely prodded Jay to seek out all sorts of musics, as he’s played in rock bands, blues bands, country bands, pop bands, wedding bands and though he never studied jazz, he even played a one-time jazz gig.