JOFF WILSON: “2 chords, strummed, then picked can make a lot of music.”

by David Lawton on May 14, 2014

 

joffTo celebrate Great Weather’s release of Puma Perl‘s new poetry collection Retrograde, there will be a Book Launch Spectacular at the Parkside Lounge on Tuesday June 3rd starting at 8PM. For the last couple of years, Puma has been performing her poems with a group of her friends who are veterans of the downtown New York music scene, and they will be performing with her on the 3rd.  They help reveal the rock and roll heart that beats beneath the surface of Puma’s heartfelt work. So we wanted you to have a chance to meet each musician who is part of the collaboration. First off is singer/songwriter/guitarist JOFF WILSON:

David Lawton: Joff, first off, I can tell from your song Color Me Rochester Grey and other tunes I’ve heard you do, that the Beatles are a huge influence on you. They are on me too. So I have to ask you for your favorite Beatles song, and favorite Beatles album, and why they come out number one over all the other great choices.

Joff Wilson: Hmmm, that is very interesting because my main influence growing up was the Ramones. I quite like the British invasion of the 1960’s however and The Jam was my fav English band for a long time. I bought some Dave Clark 5 and Gerry & The Pacemakers albums at a garage sale once and listened to them extensively. The Beatles have such a variety and so many songs it is almost impossible for me to pick just 1.

DL: Fair enough. You are a veteran of the New York rock club scene. What’s the best club show you’ve ever been a part of, either as a player or audience member, and what about it made it stand out?

JW: I got to open for the Ramones once and that was bliss for me. Getting to open for my Rock and Roll heroes was like a dream come true.

DL: The live music scene has taken some hits over the last ten years or so, and there are not as many venues left to do the kind of thing you do. But you are part of a community of artists, inspired by the CBGBs aesthetic, who really seem to work together to maximize the opportunities you have to make your music. What have you learned working in this circle of friends that might help the young rockers just entering the scene?

JW: That scene was a bit before my time. However,  the musicians and bands that played there and Max’s etc. embraced me as one of their own even though I was a freshman and they were seniors of the scene.I played at CBGB’s and the Continental in the late ’90’s and in the last year CBGB’s was open Hilly let me have a job running an open mic every thurs. It was a great experience. What I learned was that there is still a great scene in N.Y.C. allbeit smaller but younger bands and musicians can find a welcoming spot in it if they check their egos at the door. The rock and roll wheel has already been invented but they can at least help keep it moving.

DL: I noticed in doing some research on you that you played with Jim Carroll at some point. I know he is a very important artist to Puma. She has a fantastic poem dedicated to him in the new book. What can you tell us about that experience?

JW: I was asked to play guitar for Jim in September 1991 and It ranks #2 on my fav gig list. Jim was a warm, funny guy. His wit was sharp and you could feel how strong his passion was for what he did. He would call me up and talk for a couple hours. I don’t like to stay on the phone very long but his banter and stories were so engaging I couldn’t help but be polite and stay on the line until he talked himself out. I had to learn his songs and that was a treat because I hadn’t heard most of them before. It was up to me to form a briefly lived band to back him so I called some friends to help. He was very Happy with the results but we were living in Rochester and he in New York so it was just a brief music affair. R.I.P Jim Carroll.

DL: We are going to conclude the book party on the 3rd with a set by your band, The Bowery Boys. Tell our readers what they can expect from you all.

JW: First, we will come out juggling chainsaws, walnuts, and stepladders, and then transform into the fun loving boys next door that play clear, melodic, and somewhat passionate original rock and roll songs.

DL: Sounds exciting. You have been accompanying Puma’s poetry now for the last couple of years. Has the experience changed your own writing? Your playing?

JW: Puma and I somehow started  up interacting artistically, I think, at a weekly late night jam I fronted and I asked her if she wanted some music behind a poem or two? It reminded me of my “Stage Poetry Company” days. Puma is the real deal. Lady “Keroauc” as in “Jack”. The experience brought me to invite  some of my closest musician pals like Danny Ray on Sax, Walter Seding on Violin. It started as the 4 of us and then other friends joined in here and there, the band is growing and flowering. As for me, No. I am still the same as ever, doing what I do. I am a musician and I also write poetry. When I write songs, the words are very important to me. I used to do the same thing creating music for a group called The Stage Poetry Company. I would ask the Poet (Ted Williams) what is the title of the piece or what are the first few words, and take it from there. That experience led me to perform with Jim Carroll. I used to be a wallflower in a poetry scene but got noticed. LOL. I let the poet’s poem’s lyrics be my guide. If they are sad I play gentle, happy, I play more upbeat. Often times I use music from my songs already written, other times I just wing it with minimal changes so the rest of the musicians can follow easy and keep it simple as to not distract from the poet. The band must be unobtrusive so as to not overcome the poet. 2 chords, strummed, then picked can make a lot of music.

DL: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me, Joff!

JW: Thanks for taking the time to type with me. Cheers. {:->

 

 

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