At the start we noticed something different about Joey Salvia. While he does write and perform his own music, he’s also playing with various bands in multiple styles, giving him a nice, diverse set of experience that creates longevity for working musicians. This is becoming increasingly uncommon in music in the modern day as true collaboration is being replaced with “all in one home studio” type recording.
Joey is a multi-instrumentalist who has been playing music since childhood, when his father would strum out some chords and Joey would sing along like Johnny Cash. But Joey’s youth wasn’t limited to the man in black. He was also influenced by artists like The Beatles, Buddy Holly, Sun Record artists, and Dylan, gravitating more to the male singers who also play instruments.
While Joey may not consider his voice an instrument, his tone and approach in the song “Let Me Be There” evidences a skilled and experienced musician is at the microphone. In the tune, you can hear influences of country and Americana/Rock music in the vein of musical icons like Tom Petty or Elvis Costello.
Who is Joey Salvia?
Joey was a member of the award winning band, The Montgomery Cliffs, in the late 90s/2000s. Joey has commercially released over 9 albums. He’s also provided some vocals and guitar for Bleaker Street Cowboys. Each of the projects seem to take on their own personalities making it difficult to put Joey into a music box, so to speak.
Q & A with Joey Salvia?
What musical genre do you classify yourself as?
Pop Rock, Americana, Folk, and even country on occasion. I mix it up as a songwriter.
How would you describe your music?
Melodic story songs mostly guitar based.
What was the first song you performed publicly?
Sweet Caroline… I think.
What milestones have you reached in your music career that you’d like to share?
My band was number one on Amazon for a week in traditional country (Bleaker Street Cowboys), Getting to play and sing Elvis on national TV with James Burton, and also recording a few good songs. I also have a radio theme for an ESPN show that has been playing for 15 years in NYC. I’ve had a lot of good moments. Some awesome live shows as well. I can’t list them all but, I’ve been blessed.
What is your fondest musical memory?
Singing in the bathroom of my friends house while recording the debut for The Montgomery Cliffs. That album was raw and real. I sang my throat off during those sessions. I think I recorded most of the vocals for 14 songs in a day or two. Oh, to be young and ambitious. The band also practiced so much that my songs were so easy to record because we were prepared. The bathroom had a great effect to it as well! Andy Bopp produced it like we were The Clash or the first Beatles album. Mostly live with a few overdubs.
If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what song would it be?
A Day in the Life by The Beatles but, if you ask me tomorrow… it might be a Jules Shear song… Like, All Through the Night or If We Never Meet Again.
How often do you perform live?
As much as I can but roughly a few times each week.
What types of events/venues do you generally perform at?
I play solo gigs at bars and outdoor stages, with two different bands at clubs, festivals, and even in living rooms. I’ll play anywhere it pays.
Do you write your own songs?
I do. That’s why I picked up a guitar in the first place. It was always about writing and sharing songs for me. I also perform covers. Covers help you learn history… and also give you ideas about structure and style.
How often do you practice?
I used to practice for the sake of practice while growing up but, now I just play something most days… or at least write. I’m always thinking musically though. I like playing drums nowadays… to my stuff and even listening to The Bee Gees or Lady Gaga. It helps keep your timing together. I play simple but, aim for a steady pace.
Give us a little insight into your recording process?
I use Logic these day but have used Pro Tools and even a 4 track tape recorder. I usually start by writing a song on guitar or even piano. Then I start to work up each track with various instruments. It’s a tedious process that eventually leads to mixing… and sometimes, releasing commercially. I also write out of my head while driving. I wrote my entire first commercial release while driving a van to make extra cash. Sometimes writing without an instrument forces you to go places outside the norm… or box. I used to have sheets of paper and notebooks everywhere (being a big lyric guy) but, now I keep my notes on my iPhone. I also sing into my recorder on the phone. I have at least 50 unfinished ideas at a time on my phone… Sometimes I go to them and complete a song.
What equipment is most important?
These days, my hard drive. But if I have a guitar and a mic, I can work things out. I have too many guitars though. My bass is also important because I make some of my living playing it live. Being a singing bassist has been a saving grace for me when it comes to getting in a band and making a living. I also love playing bass.
Are you mastering your own songs?
I’ve mastered my own and even had Bob Ludwig master my old band, The Montgomery Cliffs. I wouldn’t say I’m a top-notch pro at it but, I learn each time I master a track. I’ve mastered for others as well. I’m an audio engineer on a lot of radio features and digital media… so I do have experience with sound beyond writing, playing live, and recording my own stuff. I’m also a voting member for The Grammys as an Engineer and Artist (Recording Academy Member). So I get to vote for my peers big and small alike!
What projects are you currently working on?
I’ve been releasing self-recorded singles over the past year or two but, I am working on an EP with a great artist/producer, Nick Bertling. He was the drummer for Bleaker Street Cowboys. He’s a do it all kind of artist. Check out Bertling Noise Laboratories. Amazing stuff. I also work with an amazing artist/producer, Andy Bopp. He was also in BSC and produced some of my solo stuff and all of The Montgomery Cliffs albums.
What needs for elevating your music career aren’t being met?
Well, it’s tough to make a buck from writing and recording these days. Digital stream sales are very competitive… and pay a fraction of a cent per listen or download. So live shows is where the money comes from for me these days. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and have had great ups and some downs but mostly, it’s been an even path of writing, recording, and performing. I can only do my best as an artist and performer… everything else isn’t really in my control.
I think gear and the ability to record, produce, and release your own stuff has become way more accessible but, it also means anyone can do it. So there’s very little demand for recording artists but, what I do live… that’s more of a lost art for many younger performers. I think the one thing I’d like more than anything is for other artists who have a great singing style to cover my songs. That would be something special for me.
[Author’s Note: Digital streaming seems to be the bane of existence for many artists. Check out our Spotlight of Ghostly Beard, where he discusses his efforts to combat the current model.]
Anything not covered you’d like to add?
I’d say if you want to check out my songs and recordings online… Apple Music, Amazon, Spotify, and even my webpage has it all there. Solo, The Montgomery Cliffs, and Bleaker Street Cowboys. It’s a big catalog of diverse styles but, mostly guitar based melodic rock, pop, and Americana.
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