Two-named troubadour

Local singer-songwriter Jake Allan hopes to build a long-term career as a musician.

Jake Allan poses in his apartment in Minneapolis on Thursday. Allan is a new singer-songwriter who recently moved to Minneapolis for the music scene.

Holly Peterson

Jake Allan poses in his apartment in Minneapolis on Thursday. Allan is a new singer-songwriter who recently moved to Minneapolis for the music scene.

Jackie Renzetti


Whether he’s hand-drawing posters for gigs or cutting hair for his day job, Jake Tousignant is working toward a career as a musician.

The country-folk singer-songwriter moved to Minneapolis from his hometown of Iron Mountain, Mich., in February 2015. After parking cars as a valet, he began working at Sudz Salon in April. Aside from his day job, Tousignant performs music as Jake Allan.

He released his first album, “Chest Pains,” in November and has performed at Moto-I open mic nights and the Amsterdam Bar. On Friday, he’ll play at Dunn Bros Coffee in St. Paul.

“I write songs because I need to write songs,” Tousignant said. “The motivator is just an itch and a desire to create something, and music is the most obvious medium for me.”

He goes by Jake Allan as a way to avoid misspellings and mispronunciations and so it’s easier for people to find him.

At the age of 15, Tousignant started crafting his first songs after listening to Steve Earle’s album, “El Corazón.”

“It just hit me, you know. I was like, ‘I should try to write some songs,’” Tousignant said.

The classic country sound of Earle surfaces in Tousignant’s raspy voice and simple four-chord guitar songs.

Some of the songs from his teenage years, such as “Ivory” and “Maybe It’s You” appear on “Chest Pains.” Tousignant adjusted the songs over time, however, to match his thoughts while recording the album.

While attending cosmetology school in Milwaukee, Wis., Tousignant struggled with alcoholism and took a break from school for treatment.

So while making the album, Tousignant adjusted his lyrics for “Ivory” so that in the first verse, he sings, “Life could not be better, I wish I had a reason to believe,” to reflect his dismal outlook on life while dealing with alcoholism. At the end of the song, he sings the same verse with the line “I think I have a reason to believe.”

“It all works itself out by the end,” Tousignant said of the edit. “If you think you have a reason to believe that life could not be better, then that’s the only reason you need, I think.”

Following his treatment, he had heart surgery in May 2014. Over the summer, he recovered at home, where he worked for a golf course and recorded his first album.

“[The album name] was kind of derived from the literal. I would go and record all day until I couldn’t sing anymore, ‘cause my chest hurt so badly,” Tousignant said.

In addition, Tousignant said the title came from Steve Earle’s song, “Christmas in Washington,” where Earle mentions an “uneasy feeling in [his] chest.”

While making the album, Tousignant said he resonated with having an “uneasy feeling.”

“I just didn’t know — which I think a lot of people my age don’t — what the hell was going on,” Tousignant said. “So, I made this record, and I wanted to get to a city.”

Tousignant recorded the album in his friend Trevor Ohlsen’s basement in Iron Mountain. Ohlsen, a student at McNally Smith and a musician, provided back-up vocals and instrumentation.

Ohlsen helped push him toward achieving his musical goals, Tousignant said.

“He’s got so much potential, but he never really did anything about it, not a whole lot at least,” Ohlsen said. “I was just there to help and encourage and keep his spirits up.”

Tousignant makes posters for all of his concerts. His poster for the Dunn Bros performance consists of a large paper coffee-cup cut-out. It earned a tweet from the Local Current, dubbing it “Flyer of the Week.”

Though he said he’d prefer to stay off of Twitter, after the Current’s tweet, Tousignant made his first account. He said he joined because he wants to get his name out to more audiences.

“That’d be great if I could just play guitar. That’d be the dream, the goal. For now, I’ll cut some hair,” Tousignant said.


What: Jake Allan

Where: Dunn Bros Coffee, 1569 Grand Ave., St. Paul

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday