Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

RIP Shakin’ Jake (popularly known as “Shaky Jake”)

18. September 2007 • Chuck Warpehoski
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Ann Arbor icon “Shaky Jake” Woods passed away on Sunday.

The Ann Arbor News has a nice writeup on him, and WEMU has been running memories of him from Peter Mad-Cat Ruth and Mr. B.



  1. I remember seeing Shaky Jake on and off since the 1970s. Recently, he lived up the hill from our house, in Broadway Terrace. We last saw him a couple of months ago.

    It is hard to believe he is no longer with us.


       —David Cahill    Sep. 18 '07 - 01:16PM    #
  2. Awww, I’ll miss him. We were just talking about him a few days ago because we hadn’t seen him around this summer. He has been part of my memories of Ann Arbor since I was a little girl. Amazing to think he was only in his 40s when I first knew him. He never seemed to change. I hope Ann Arbor can remain the kind of place to embrace someone like Jake.


       —Juliew    Sep. 18 '07 - 01:30PM    #
  3. An icon of Ann Arbor. What would be cool would be a life-size statue of Jake somewhere in town.


       —John Q.    Sep. 18 '07 - 06:14PM    #
  4. @bkerr reports there will be a feature on 91.7 WUOM radio at 4pm today (9/18)


       —Edward Vielmetti    Sep. 18 '07 - 07:25PM    #
  5. :( I still remember a time in law school, while at the UW-Madison, when I told my best law school friend about Shaky. He couldn’t grasp the concept and kept asking, “So he, uh, sits there and shakes?!?!” This was pre-internet, so I couldn’t show him a picture and let him bask in all things Shaky. RIP, dude.


       —TeacherPatti    Sep. 18 '07 - 08:46PM    #
  6. A few years back,I used to work at Herb david guitar Studio,and Jake would stop by, now and then, to ge tnew strings put on his guitar,chat etc. Since he did not knw how to play the guitar, we’d replace the string/strings,and then tune the strings so tha tit wouldeither play a D or a C or an A chord!!!!
    I used to enjoy interacting withhim,and even after I stopped working for Herb, Jake would greet me witha huge smile, when he’d see me downtown,and ask about my health,and wish me well.
    RIP Jake, we will miss you.


       —Ronin    Sep. 18 '07 - 11:48PM    #
  7. WAAM Radio has this as their lead today:

    A memorial for “Shakey Jake” Woods is set for Sunday at 1:00 pm. The Service will be held at Muehlig Funeral Chapel on South Fourth Avenue. A staple of the downtown area for three decades, Shakey Jake and his rhythmic musings became part of the fabric of Ann Arbor. Once described as “an ever-vigilant presence along the main thoroughfares of the city.” Shakey Jake was born Jake Woods in Arkansas in 1925. He always had a smile and a set of shades to go along with hat and guitar. In a 1999 article in the Ann Arbor News, Shakey Jake described Ann Arbor as “nothing but a playhouse for me.” Jake was 82 when he died Sunday evening about 7:30pm. He will be missed.


       —Edward Vielmetti    Sep. 19 '07 - 04:27PM    #
  8. I first met shakey jake about 14 years ago when I started taking the bus into Ann Arbor after school. He will remain fixed in my memory of this place, standing on the corner mumbling out-of-tune songs to the passers-by. What a blessing he was to our town.

    RIP sir.


       —elias    Sep. 19 '07 - 04:37PM    #
  9. I saw Hunter Thompson speak at Hill years ago. He came late…and drunk. At one point Jake slid up next to the stage and announced a song, strummed hard for a minute or two and sang in his unintelligable bluesy style. Hunter was stunned into silence, then somehow picked up his lost train of thought, and continued on…


       —WAP John    Sep. 19 '07 - 11:07PM    #
  10. Here is a note from a friend about Jake:

    If you asked him he would tell you that his “name” was really “Shakin’ Jake.” He disliked the name “Shakey” but had given up on getting people to change. Listen closely to the brief interview that was broadcast on several local radio stations and you will hear him call himself “Shakin’ Jake.” I gave him an occasional ride to campus because it was painful for him to walk but the pain didn’t stop him from getting to where he wanted to go if he couldn’t mooch a ride. I will miss seeing him heading down Broadway on his way to do his thing.


       —David Cahill    Sep. 20 '07 - 01:11PM    #
  11. even though there is only one way out of this life, when it happens to someonw who is such an icon, it hurts. jake and i played pool in liberty street bar a few times – took pics with him and mom recently – bought his postcards (autographed!!), bought his cassette tape, bumper sticker and i thnk he had a calendar at least once that i have somewehre.

    btw –

    Subject: SHAKEY JAKE RADIO SHOW THIS FRIDAY
    Body: Hey folks!

    I’m coming out of “retirement” for one special day only this week!

    Kristin, who does Tight Pants every Friday from 3-5:30pm, has agreed to let me take the first hour of her show this Friday to do a tribute to Jake. It will be an hour of segments from Jake’s interview with me at the station from 1996 as well as selections off his CD.

    That’s this Friday from 3-4pm on WCBN 88.3FM Radio Free Ann Arbor
    Listen in via

    http:wcbn.org/listen.html

    I also invite those of you who haven’t already seen it, to check out my blog entry regarding Jake.

    John

    http://www.myspace.com/backwardsmessage
       —toasty    Sep. 20 '07 - 07:36PM    #
  12. I wonder if the title of the thread could be changed to something like:

    RIP Shakin’ Jake (popularly known as “Shaky Jake”)

    to honor his own stated preference (source: first-person account).

    Just an idea.


       —Michael    Sep. 21 '07 - 12:55AM    #
  13. I went ahead and did that Michael. (editors, please revert me if needed)


       —Mark    Sep. 23 '07 - 01:20AM    #
  14. memorial service was packed and spilled out onto the streets! video from mlive, and others, on youtube. eddie spaghetti did the memorial march ‘put a jazz band on my hearse wagon to raise hell as we march along’, it says inteh song. a2 notables attended – you id yourself.


       —toasty    Sep. 25 '07 - 09:55AM    #
  15. no one else attended???????


       —toasty    Oct. 1 '07 - 09:40AM    #
  16. I’m really sorry that I missed it.


       —Larry Kestenbaum    Oct. 1 '07 - 02:27PM    #
  17. mleh. i was in atlanta for the weekend :-(

    i remember shakey jake’s (soulful! hearfelt!) ballad “hippies in the grass” at the b&j festival some 30 years ago like it was yesterday! PLANG! HIPPIES IN THE GRAAAASSS!!!! PLANG! shakin’ jake woods COULD NOT sing, COULD NOT play the guitar!!!


       —peter honeyman    Oct. 2 '07 - 12:17AM    #
  18. awwwwww, peter …. you expected bob dylan?


       —toasty    Oct. 2 '07 - 04:53AM    #
  19. My fondest memory of Jake, I think, shows what kind of person he was and why he was so beloved.

    It was probably 1998 or 1999 and I was raising money in a bucket for the Ann Arbor Tenants’ Union. (A student organization that is sorely needed at the U). I was standing on the corner at Liberty and Main in the winter. There was a nice dusting of snow coming down and it was a cold day in January.

    Jake was standing and strumming at the opposite corner and neither of us were getting much traffic. Jake, seeing that I had no gloves came over to me and pulled out an extra pair of work gloves from his pocket. He handed them to me and told me to keep warm.

    In addition to his friendly smiles and acknowledgements and his oft repeated, “I’m on the move,” I’ll never forget Jake’s generousity and warmth. It seemed that he always had time to be good to others.


       —Jeff Irwin    Oct. 3 '07 - 05:22PM    #
  20. let’s build a statue …..


       —toasty    Oct. 12 '07 - 01:41AM    #