Harkening back to the beautiful halcyon era when warmth and intimacy mattered in music and people’s hearts were open to embracing an artist’s deeper truths, Joee Corso’s Woodward Avenue Records full length debut Only A Man is contemporary roots/blues/Americana with a tinge of country at its most expressive.
With insightful and poetic lyrics, crackling licks, tight grooves and a soulful voice reflective of a mature artist who has experienced a lot of life and endured to tell the tales, it’s the culmination of ten years of personal and observational songwriting. It’s also Joee’s way of declaring, after some 30 years experiencing the ups, downs, close calls and near misses that define a musician’s life in Los Angeles, that it’s never too late to fulfill the talents and pursue the dreams that have defined him since he was a kid growing up in New Haven, CT.
Back then, Joee would watch transfixed as his grandfather’s band played old Italian songs or his dad, a self-taught guitarist, would try his hand at songs by Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Bob Seger and the Eagles. He’d also sing along with his mom. Along the way, before he became a shredder studying at the Guitar Institute in L.A. copping the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen, he also loved The Doors, Santana, Elton John and Billy Joel. Though Joee has a fresh and inspiring, beautifully grounded vision all his own, he brings subtle elements of all these influences into the colorful musical narratives he weaves throughout Only A Man.
The pinch me, dream come true part of Joee’s story emerges in the serendipity of meeting and capturing the interest of two-time Grammy winning producer, pop and urban jazz hitmaker and blues guitarist Paul Brown. Brown was intrigued with Joee from the minute he met him over a mutual interest in golfing at the Woodland Hills Country Club. Brown had heard that the veteran singer had just opened shows for Dave Mason and Robbie Krieger at the suburban L.A. hotspot The Canyon Club and was eager to listen to the tunes Joee had been gathering. Blown away by Joee’s raw, unbridled passion as a singer and the depth of his songwriting, Brown suggested they do an album together and work with some of the first-call veteran L.A. musicians on his speed dial.
Joee launched a successful Kickstarter campaign which raised $15,000, mostly from longtime fans who have enthusiastically supported his numerous successful niche local bands over the past 20 years. As he puts it in his promotional video, “the stars aligned,” and suddenly, he was playing guitar in the studio, experiencing the transcendence of recording the ten eclectic tracks (including both a sultry ballad and amped up rock version of the deeply reflective “Young Lovers and Friends”) with Brown (who produced and plays electric guitar) and studio/touring legends pianist/organist Brother Paul Brown (Eric Clapton, The Waterboys) and Mike Finnigan (Jimi Hendrix, Taj Mahal), bassist David Santos (Billy Joel/Elton John, Crosby, Stills and Nash) and Bob Glaub (Journey, Bruce Springsteen), drummer Tony Braunagel (Rickie Lee Jones, Bonnie Raitt) and engineer Johnny Lee Schell (Bonnie Raitt). Only A Man also includes the shimmering mandolin playing of Davey Johnstone, who has been playing guitar and other stringed instruments for Elton John for over 45 years.
Although Joee’s musical history since moving to L.A. to study guitar at Musicians Institute has had its low, frustrating points, there were always great moments and signs along the way that pointed him to his current destiny. For every weird hair band gig, there was a moment like the time he sang his original song “The River’s Edge” for a roomful of strangers and realized that when he bared his soul in his own voice, it could make people cry. For each development deal that didn’t happen, there was that couple so touched by his performance at a local farmer’s market that they invited him, all expenses paid, to play at their wedding in Maui.
After years of knocking around in various bands throughout the 90’s, Joee hit unique paydirt in the early 2000s with Abbey Booth, a fun, Venice, CA based jam band trio that evolved from a local drum circle. In addition to a year long residency at The Viper Room, the group was for a time a darling of Hollywood, attracting hundreds to their shows and once even playing a cast party for “Will & Grace.” Fueled by the strength of Joee’s emerging talents as a songwriter, his next band Grand Daddy Purple became popular among cannabis circles and once toured Europe. Since then, he’s performed solo or as leader of The Joe Corso Band, which released a self-titled album in 2007 and the EP Live at Genghis Cohen in 2011.
Summing up his career and the fresh opportunities that await with his signing to Woodward Avenue Records and release of Only A Man, Joee says, “From being courted by some of the biggest labels in Hollywood, getting booked in studio A - while Aerosmith was in studio B - to busking on Santa Monica Pier - music has provided me with an amazing journey. I wish I could say I had no regrets, but there is one thing that I feel I've never successfully accomplished in my career and that is capturing the genuine essence of my music and the feelings that come with it - on a record.
“Working with Paul Brown and these incredible musicians has been a godsend that has allowed me to create an album that feels like the culmination of the last eight years of playing constantly, from residencies around L.A., farmers markets, convalescent homes to European tours,” he adds. “Sonically, Only A Man stands up as something that’s an honest reflection of who I am as an artist and captures my voice in a perfectly imperfect way.”
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Joee Corso Music
Los Angeles, Caifornia