When a man dies, his friends always want to tell stories from when he was alive.
For Shakey Jake Woods, who died earlier this week at age 82, that group included nearly the entire city of Ann Arbor.
You could find him on street corners all around the city, playing his old two-string guitar with a huge tip bucket by his side. But that wasn’t the only that made him a beloved city icon.
“I remember one thing my father said about Jake,” Ann Arbor resident Ingrid Ault said. “He never had anything negative to say.”
For years, Shakey Jake walked around Ann Arbor in a bright, colorful polyester suit and top hat. He always wore sunglasses, which made his grin stand out even more. When someone walked by, Jake would often flash that huge smile and ask, “You on the move?” Those who knew Jake would usually reply, “Yeah, I’m on the move.”
Those who didn’t know Jake would usually tense up, and mumble something about not having any money.
Jake considered himself a working man, though. His music was his work.
“You name it, I can play it. I taught it all to myself, it ain’t hard,” he told The Michigan Daily in 1998. “I walk down the street and play it all day. It’s part of my job.”
His office changed each day. Sometimes he was stationed outside the Espresso Royale on Main Street, and other times he was at Peaceable Kingdom, a trinkets shop a few doors down. He also hung out in front of Kilwin’s Chocolate Shop as well as Caf