This week I discuss one of my former guitar and bass students who is really making a name for himself.
I've been teaching guitar, bass and applied music theory for nearly two decades now, and every so often I hear one of my ex-students has gone onto to do big things, or at least tried to make music their vocation.
Being a full-time musicians or even a part-time musician and playing original music isn't for the faint of heart. It can be nearly impossible - you have to believe in yourself and your material 1,000 percent, you have to get used to rejection or performing open mic nights with no one in the audience and near financial ruin.
And those can be the good points! You can stick with it and play for nearly nothing at places in cities for years, devote your life to your music and end up broken.
Like I said - it's only for the extremely brave or crazy or both.
One student I've kept in contact through the years with is Steubenville native Joe Garcia. Now, while living in the Ohio Valley I began giving Joe guitar lessons when I think he was 15 or 16. I can't think of any student who was more attentive or loved as wide a variety of music as Joe.
Then Joe got interested in bass, so we worked on that for a few years. I think we learned every Primus song ever written! I say "we" because those Les Claypool bass lines were wicked! I think I learned as much as he did. I loved Joe because Joe loved music.
Joe eventually left the area and ended up in Akron, where he began a solo career playing, it seems, everywhere. Joe was now going by the name Jose, which is probably his real moniker. Then he became Hoseff and put out a solo CD of his original material that was very interesting indeed.
All of a sudden I'm reading on Facebook about gigs he was playing solo all over the East Coast - even Nashville. I don't know many people - even musicians - who would have the cujones to travel the country playing solo gigs and wondering where your next dime is coming from.
Joe, or Jose, or Hoseff, still is a self-employed musician, only now he's playing for and helping produce what I consider one of Ohio's newest and premiere bands. All of a sudden I see Joe playing upright bass for this band called the Angie Haze Project, led by, appropriately enough, Angie Haze. The band isn't traditional by any means, and neither is Angie Haze, whom I consider national talent.
The band's newest album, which Joe recently sent me, is called "Hot to Cold," and features songs written by Haze and her eclectic band.
Imagine banjos and cellos, oddball percussion, lots of drama and tension and release, and you start to get an idea where this band is coming from.
Haze herself has one of those voices that is completely emotional in a good way. She seems to have an innate sense of when to pull it back from the brink so you don't think she's a total basket case like Fiona Apple, although Haze and her band's sense of quirky song structures reminds me of Apple.
She also reminds me a bit of a young Tori Amos and, most surprisingly, Tom Waits, with her combination of unusual experimentation of instrumentation and song structure. She does comes across like another messed-up, somewhat eccentric chick on a piano - just like Amos and Apple - but she also seems a little more together and not quite so neurotic. And her voice - wow - what an instrument.
The caliber of the music and the whole package is very attractive and original.
This is major league talent, and I wouldn't be surprised if Haze and her band become a national feature.
Good going, Joe, Jose or whatever you're calling yourself this week. I'm proud of you, man.
(Miller can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)