Making Room At The Table For ‘The New Generation Of Blues’: Guitar Ace, JPBlues

Written by on September 26, 2013 in Cover Story, Interviews, September 26, 2013 - Comments Off on Making Room At The Table For ‘The New Generation Of Blues’: Guitar Ace, JPBlues

AAM-V11-Issue08_coverJPBlues (a/k/a John Pagano) has been Touring and working the Blues scene since the age of 13! His first CD, at the age of 17, raised some eyes, his second Release on Midnight Circus Records, hit #4 on the RMR blues charts and remained in the top 50 for over 28 weeks! RMR rated it as one of its top 100 Blues CD’s of 2011.  JPBlues new CD “Make Room at the Table” shows a maturing up and coming blues artist and songwriter. With guest appearances by such top musicians as Yonrico Scott (Derek Trucks Band, Royal Southern Brotherhood) and Todd Smallie (JJ and Mofro, Derek Trucks band), it is clear that JPBlues  has reached a new level in his career. This new release has something for everyone, from the traditional blues like “Make Room at the Table” Soulful Blues on “Another Time Another Place” or Ian Parkers “Love So Cold” all the way to Rockers Like “Good Enough”, “We Ain’t Going Nowhere” and “Day by Day”! The best way to Describe JPBlues is “thick Blues dripping over the edge of rock.”

All Access Publisher Debra Stocker (AAM) recently interviewed JP. Here’s how it went.

AAM: Some people might feel you’re a bit young at age 24 to be playing the blues. How do you respond to that?

JP: I may be young but I’ve had the opportunity over the past thirteen years to be educated on the genre from real blues artists such as Sam “Bluzman” Taylor, Phil Grandee (Formerly of Joe Cocker’s Band), and Frank Latorre (Johnny Winter’s Harp Player). I have been fortunate to grow up and mature not only as a musician but as a person around these artists. They have introduced me to the genre and allowed me to sculpt my own style.

AAM: Let’s talk about your new album, Make Room At The Table. How long did that take to create from start to finish?

JP: The CD took roughly 4 months. It was recorded in Buford, GA at Midnight Circus Studios. I wanted to have a lot friends and guests on this CD. I brought in Yonrico Scott (Derek Trucks Band, Royal Southern Brotherhood) Todd Smallie (Derek Trucks Band, JJ Grey & Mofro), John Young (Ryan Leslie), and Rose LaFi. I sent them the list of songs and we took it from there. “Make Room at the Table” was the first song written for the album and later became the title track. I wanted this album to have an overall real old school sound. The band and Midnight Circus Productions really pulled it off. The whole premise of the album represents how we, the band, want to be listened to and heard. We want to be recognized in the blues community as a new generation of blues.

AAM: How did you originally get your start in music?

JPBluesJP: I grew up in a very musical household. All of my family members have their own interests in music. We had a home recording studio and tons of instruments. I first started out as a drummer when I was eight years old. My drum teacher moved away, so I decided to switch over to guitar at age eleven. This is when my step-father introduced me to the Blues genre. Guitar clicked with me a lot easier than drums did. I was shown some scales and left to jam in the recording studio with “Further On Up The Road” by Eric Clapton blasting. Improvisation took over me. So after four months of playing I decided to hit up the jam circuit on Long Island, NY. This is where I spent my beginning years as a guitarist. New York has many amazing musicians and some great jams. Musicians always tried to test me as a beginner. I had to figure my way through songs which helped me develop my ear. I then met Sam “Bluzman” Taylor – a real bluesman who had been on the circuit for quite some time. He gave Jimi Hendrix his first gig and was the original guitarist for Joey D and the Starliters. He took me under his wing and allowed me to tour as a special guest with him. That experience helped me progress not only as a guitarist but as a musician, took me to a new level of awareness.  After developing my own style as a musician, I decided to create my own band called the JP Blues Band. The band started in New York and won Long Island’s international Blues Competition, which entitled us to compete in Memphis, TN. We recorded our first CD “Die Happy” to promote the band. A couple of years later we recorded our second CD “I Will Not Go Quietly”. It hit the RMR charts at #4 nationally and remained on the charts for 28 weeks straight. Now we just released our third album, “Make Room At The Table”.

AAM: You recently came off a big Summer tour where your band performed with Australian blues artist, Anni Piper. How did that go?

JPBluesJP: It was a great experience. My drummer (Shiloh Bloodworth) and I both backed Anni Piper for her tour. She is an amazing singer/bassist on the Blues Leaf Records label. My radio promoter Rick Lusher had put us in touch for the tour. It was a great opportunity to work with an international artist. The tour was so successful that Anni is already heading back here to the States for a potential winter tour. The summer tour was a thirty-three date tour that started in Florida. We played thirteen gigs straight in a different city every night in Florida. Then we headed on over to Lawton, Oklahoma for a week-long casino gig. None of us at that point had performed at a casino. This was a check on my ‘To-Do’ list. After that we went over to Kansas City, Missouri to play the famous Knuckleheads venue. Then to Springfield, Illinois and Chicago, where we played the House of Blues. Next was PA, NJ, NC and the tour ended in Calgary and Edmonton in Canada. Along the way we all made a lot of diehard fans and great connections.

AAM: You’ve been wise enough to do something many musicians don’t do, that is, hook up with an experienced music manager. How has that worked to your advantage?

JP: Richard L’Hommedieu, my manager, has played almost every role in the music industry. He started out as a street musician, is a producer/recording engineer, then became a radio DJ and further along created the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. It is safe to say he is well-rounded in the industry. Every artist needs someone on their side to look out for their best interests. When you have someone who has the knowledge in the industry and who has a real business sense, they will further you and your career. It is even better when this person believes in who you are and what you do. This is what Richard has done for me.  Having a manager has worked to my advantage because two heads are better than one. He is assertive and gets things done. It is always a good thing to have a second opinion on decisions that affect your career and future. I greatly value his opinion.

AAM: Best gig you’ve ever played? Worst gig you’ve ever played?

JPBluesJP: My favorite gig I ever played was in Atlanta, Georgia at the Dogwood Festival. The Derek Trucks Band was the headliner on that bill. I just remember a sea of people. There was no way to describe the feeling of that many people’s energy and to be on the same bill as one of my favorite artists. Worst gig I ever played was in the South with an intensely large crowd demanding the band to turn it up (volume) because they were so into it. The venue owner told us to turn down and threatened to pull the plug. It was a constant tossup between the crowd and owner but in the end we turned down as low as we could possibly play. The crowd loved the band’s dynamic change and still went nuts.

AAM: Without giving away all your secrets for success – okay, maybe just one or two juicy ones – how does the JP Blues Band plan to conquer the music world in the next five years?

JP: The JP Blues Band has extended the team. We have more people involved to promote the band and we are hoping for more success from this. We will also be recording our first music video to support the “Make Room At The Table” album. Our team also has an idea to get one of our new songs from this album into a commercial. The band will also be pushing “Make Room At The Table” with touring. The band has been consistently gigging and on the road building our fan base. We’ll be hoping to open the door into the festival circuit over the next few years. Those are some of our next steps in moving the JP Blues Band forward.