In addition to Bartley, the lead vocalist, the band includes drummer Tyler McCutcheon, bassist Matt Miller and lead guitarist Andrew Crawford. Each has played internationally in different acts over the years and made appearances on “The Rachael Ray Show,” “Today” and the Grand Ole Opry.
Beginning his career as a teen, Bartley was a member of his father’s band, Hack Bartley and Shuffle. He toured the country with The Swingin’ Medallions as lead vocalist/guitarist for seven years before taking some time off.
Now Bartley is back with his own band. He credits his late father, James “Hack” Bartley, for his own success in music.
“My father passed away two months ago in a fishing accident,” Bartley says. “He was my inspiration and gave me my start.
“By the time I came of age, I started my own band,” Bartley says. “I took piano lessons for several years.”
At the time, Bartley didn’t appreciate those lessons, although he is most appreciative now.
“It was not fun at all, although my teacher was phenomenal,” he says. “An adolescent boy has more to do than practice piano. But the minute I stopped taking lessons, music became fascinating.
“I also had guitar lessons, but it was a pick-it-up-as-I-go thing,” he says. “Because my dad played, I had a lot of contacts and got to spend time with him and with those guys.”
Bartley was “a little bitty kid” when he decided to become a musician.
“I knew in my heart I wanted to play music,” he says. “I had my first band where we played at birthday parties.
“We played really loud. I don’t think I ever got a paycheck, but I remember thinking, ‘This is what I was made for.’”
In addition to playing and singing, Bartley also is a songwriter.
“I started writing fairly early on, but they were terrible, awful songs,” he says. “Writing is a lot like learning an instrument.
“For some people it comes naturally. I really had to work on my songwriting skills.
“I feel I’ve grown over the years,” Bartley says. “I’m not afraid to play my songs in front of people.”
Inspiration often comes from real events, but Bartley also creates stories that are told in song.
“Probably my favorite song is ‘Cannonball,’ one I wrote all by myself,” he says. “It was a song about one of my ancestors, who was biracial and fought in the War Between the States.
“That really struck a chord with me. It was really inspirational.
“It had something to do with real life,” Bartley says. “A majority of the songs I write, I create fictional scenarios in my head and pick a person in that story and write what I feel about that person. They are stories — some fiction, some real, some science fiction.”
For a time, Bartley stopped touring to devote time to family.
“I came into The Swingin’ Medallions as a legacy when I was 22 or 23,” he says. “We were on the road a lot, at least every Friday and Saturday and most of the time, Wednesday through Saturday.
“It was tough. My wife and I have six sons, and as each came along, it was more difficult to go on the road.
“When No. 5 came along, I said, ‘That’s too much,’ and came off the road,” Bartley says. “But with how fast this current band has gained popularity, I’m touring as much now as I was then.”
With six sons of his own, there may be another band — a family band — at some point in Bartley’s future.
“My oldest son is 13 and my next son just turned 11,” he says. “They definitely have a spark for music. As far as desire, that is something that will come down the road. Learning the music is what it’s all about.
“I told each and every one of them, ‘I’m more than happy to share my knowledge, but I want to make sure you really want to learn it,’ Bartley says. “It’s the same with sports, painting, whatever the case may be.”
Bartley has performed in Savannah many times with The Swingin’ Medallions.
“I used to play down there at least once a month,” he says. “We did the Tybee Island Labor Day Beach Blast every year.
“We played downtown Savannah. I absolutely love it.
“Every time I’ve been to Tybee, we always get a great response,” Bartley says. “It’s one of my favorite places to play. It feels like a small island, but there’s always something going on.”
IF YOU GO
What: Beach Bash & Dance Party with the Jake Bartley Band
When: 8-10 p.m. July 8
Where: Tybee Post Theater, 10 Van Horne Ave., Tybee Island
Cost: $25 or $22.50 for members
Info: 912-472-4790, tybeeposttheater.showare.com