On Saturday, Carson Valley guitarist Jakota Wass will graduate from Douglas High School.
A week later he will be headlining at Carson Valley Days, performing the 8-11:30 p.m. show in Lampe Park.
Jakota, who turned 18 a few weeks ago, is a Gardnerville native, born to Jodi and Jeff Wass.
The story behind Jakota’s love of music began before he was born.
His uncle Steve Wass, a 1978 Douglas High School graduate himself, jammed in a couple of bands, including one that included his name at Sharkey’s in the 1980s, when he wasn’t flying fire tankers.
When Steve Wass died in a June 17, 2002, tanker drop, he left behind several guitars.
“He had a bunch of guitars he left behind and nobody really wanted to play them,” Wass said. “I asked my dad, and he said, ‘you know what, let’s get you a lesson.’ I learned Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues for my sixth-grade talent show. The crowd seemed to like it.”
He said his first live performance was at the Cutthroat Saloon in Markleeville.
The first time one of his performances was announced in The R-C was at Flight Restaurant and Bar in 2015, when he was 12 years old.
The following year he was jamming with All Hat No Cattle at the Carson Valley Arts Council Annex.
Wass recognizes his roots in Carson Valley in his music.
“I was born and raised in Carson Valley, and I wrote an original song called ‘Battle Born’ about my love for growing up here in a small town,” he said. The song will appear on his first album expected to drop at the end of June.
“It has a lot of songs about growing up in a small town,” he said. “I can’t wait to get it out there.”
The June 12 performance won’t be Wass’ first playing Carson Valley Days.
“I’ve done it in the past, but this year will be the first time I’ll be the headliner,” he said. “We’re friends with the 20-30 Club. I really enjoy working with them.”
While many graduates will spend some time taking it easy after Saturday, Wass has a busy week planned.
He has performances starting June 10 and then every day through Sunday before picking up his guitar again June 15.
And after a summer performing, he’ll be attending the University of Nevada, Reno, where he plans to major in business and minor in music.
“I plan on doing something with music,” he said. “I plan on learning how to record and produce music. It’s obviously what I like to do.”
Throughout his career, Wass said he has had the full support of his family.
“From day one, after that first guitar lesson, they’ve always been encouraging me,” he said. “They told me ‘We want you to have fun and we support you no matter what you do.’”
He thanked the community for being so supportive.
“Nobody can make a career without people behind you,” he said. “I want to thank everyone for being present and for the support.”