Tuesday, August 19, 2014

In The Mix With Joey Stuckey

Readers, it would take an entire blog post to list the awards, affiliations, and celebrity clients and collaborators of this guest. I'll just have a little talk with him, then you can visit his website. Trust me, you'll do that.
Madame Perry: Hello, Joey, and welcome to Madame Perry’s Salon. Please make yourself comfortable. Joey, I had heard people rave about your mad talent as a musician for many years. Actually our mutual friend, musician, songwriter and vocalist Sue G. Wilkinson was the first person to tell me about you. When did you begin to play music, and on what instrument?

Joey Stuckey: Sue is amazing and a true one of a kind talent, we have a lot of respect for each other and I am honored she brought me to your attention.

I first took piano around seven years old, but, only took for six months. As a kid I had a lot of health problems, the result of a brain tumor, and just wasn't ready to give of myself to make music. I was more interested in feeling better and doing kid stuff. My Mom also tried to give me guitar lessons at around five years old from a local college professor; that lasted one lesson, again, I just wasn't ready and again, I had to overcome so many health related obstacles. At that age I had yet to understand the power of music.
Joey Stuckey

My Mom was convinced that I was a musician. My parents played non professionally, by that I mean it wasn't their profession, just something they loved to do when the opportunity presented. My Dad believed that when I was ready to play, if I ever was, she wouldn't have to make me practice. They were both right!

My first real foray into the world of music was about the age of fifteen as the sound tech for a local planetarium. I had started recording and fooling around with recording gear at thirteen and found I had an affinity for it. Many of my co-workers, who were about eighteen and had bands, asked if I would record them. Once I heard the power of original, live music it was my epiphany! Music was my destiny. 
James Brown with Joey Stuckey
My career as a recording engineer and producer was born, and at seventeen I started taking guitar lessons from guitarist and teacher Terry Cantwell.

Terry had never taught a blind person before--oh, did I mention I am blind? Well that was another result of the brain tumor. Anyway, Terry said he would and could teach me and that he would find a way to impart the information I needed to be a musician. He did and he is truly one of the people I love best in this world and part of my family. He even went so far as to draw in a box of sand the musical staff and notes so I would have an understanding of what they looked like.

So that is how it all started on the guitar. I also found over the years that I was handy on bass and vocals and had an adequate amount of talent on keys and percussion.

In most of the full productions I produce in my studio these days, I often play all instruments for my clients. 

MP: You’ve had quite a career playing and producing music. What are the achievements of which you are most proud?

JS: Hmmm, that is a hard one. I have had so many wonderful opportunities and experiences, but, I'll tell you a few quick things that over the last few years have meant a lot. First, I love to teach and take true pleasure in feeling like I am assisting others reach their potential. So teaching at Mercer University where I also attended college is a real highlight. I also travel a lot and do guest lectures--this year I had an amazing time in Hattiesburg, Mississippi  with the students and faculty at the University of Southern Mississippi.

I have also been blessed to work with two outstanding young ladies that are starting their musical careers at the age of sixteen and are amazing talents. I am proud to be their co-writer, producer, engineer and have played all the instruments on their releases, you should for sure check them out, in the genre of country Savannah Alday and in the genre of pop Katherine Daniel.

Finally, my last album Mixture which is my first full jazz release, charted at number nine on the CMJ top 40 Jazz charts for North America and got a lot of great reviews in fusion magazines across the globe.

My friend and co-writer on the project Tom Rule who performed piano/keys on the album and is a long time band member in the Joey Stuckey band was a big reason this record was so successful and I can't thank him enough. We also had two masters of percussion on the record, Marcus Reddick and another long time Joey Stuckey band member and ARC recording artist Miguel Castro, again, the record wouldn't be the same without them. 
JS with Trisha Yearwood and
his father, Talmadge Stuckey

MP: Would you tell me a story about a situation or gig that turned out quite differently – for good or bad – than you expected?
JS: Well, this is one of my favorite stories!

I was playing in my mid twenties at a bar in Milledgeville, GA. This was a rock and blues version of the Joey Stuckey Band which brings a new definition to the word eclectic. Anyway, we were performing the Steve MillerBand song  The Joker. I love this song and the lyrics that say "I really love your peaches want to shake your tree" I always smile a lot when singing this line, it just fits my sense of humor. 

So, being blind is always an adventure and on this night while singing this song and smiling like I do, I attracted the attention of a young lady that wanted to take someone home with her that night. She thought I was smiling at her. Of course, I wasn't, I had no idea she was there, I was just singing. She thought I was flirting with her and started dirty dancing for me as part of her mating ritual. 

After that song, she thought I started ignoring her. I of course wasn't--again, I had no idea she was there. Four or five songs later we took a break and then came the smackdown! 

She stormed up to me and asked me who the hell I thought I was. I was shocked.

The Breakdown
Me: What are you talking about? 

Solid Gold Dancer: You started flirting with me and then after I danced for you you decided I wasn't good enough and just started ignoring me! 

Me: I am blind, I didn't see you. 

Dancing Queen: Whatever! 

My friends: No, he really is blind.

Well, after telling me some more of how little she thought about me she stormed off and ended up finding someone else. Likely a more appreciative candidate. 

This story exemplifies how no one ever thinks of me as blind and some people never believe it. We should recognize our limitations so that we are able to compensate for them, yet not define ourselves in terms of those limitations. Just as I am more than a musician, I am also more then a blind man, though both things are a part of me and should be acknowledged.

MP: You’ve added another career as a teacher. I believe when I saw you last you had a class of your students from Mercer University coming into your studio for final exams. How do you like teaching?
Joey Stuckey and band perform
Give Five from Mixture

JS: I love it! It is something you need to have a passion for or you can't do it effectively as there are many frustrations that go with the job. Fortunately I love educating others about music and also enjoy the role of inspirational speaker about living a successful life and overcoming adversity. I teach at the college level here in my hometown of Macon and of course as I mentioned above, I travel the country teaching at other colleges and have a cadre of private students that I love!

MP: Give me your impressions of the younger group of musicians who are coming into their own now with such a wide range of influences.

Joey with Omar Hakim

JS: For sure the music biz has changed and of course many of the sounds have changed as well, though I think for the most part they are reiterations of the past--like the big-synth sounds of Lady Gaga, really just modern sounds of the late 70s and early 80s. But, that being said, I love music of all genres and time periods and am glad that there is so much talent in the biz still. I am most especially proud of the talent here in Georgia! I just wish we had the same kind of infrastructure that Los Angeles or Nashville has to get that talent exposed to the world.

MP: Tell us about your show Studio 41.

Joey with Diana DeGarmo
JS: If you are fortunate enough to get a slot performing on a local TV station, the audio can be quite challenging. TV studios, at least at the local level aren't usually set up for musical performances. I was tired of not sounding like I knew I could when I performed on TV and I knew that I wasn't the only person not having the sound they deserved. So instead of complaining, I decided to do something about it. 
I produce the show which is broadcast on the local NBC affiliate. I am set up for music production and TV stations typically aren't, so it just made sense to tape it in my studio. However, I don't try to get a recording studio sound, but keep it live sounding so the audience knows what the band really sounds like with out a lot of studio trickery.
Joey with Gregg Allman

It is important to me to support local/indie music from GA. I've been doing that in print, on the radio both web and terrestrial and it was time to do it on TV.

We have wonderfully talented folk here in GA and I encourage folks to check out the program via web if they don't live in our broadcast area. You can look for episodes on YouTube and also on Shadow Sound Studio and at Studio 41 NBC.

Joey and Carole King
MP: Let’s talk about your newest CD, Mixture, which has a permanent place in my car. It has a pop jazz feel and yet I feel like I’m listening to a soundtrack for a 70s or 80s television show with a private investigator and several glamorous guest stars. So, yeah, what was the inspiration for the songs and are you a fan of vintage TV actions shows?

JS: I love TV, though I am blind. So many TV shows -  Magnum PI and Night Court just to name two - have great theme music. And who doesn't like those sexy guest stars, or in my case starlets.

There was no conscious effort to bring that kind of sound forth, but, I care about good melodies. As a 70s baby my musical influences really began in the 80s. Still, the music is really about trying to find melodies that folks could hum along with or get hooked on.

Joey with Michael Stipe
MP: What’s next for you, Joey, musically and personally? 
JS: Fame, fortune and then retirement! Seriously though, I am happy as long as I can continue doing just what I do now.

I am always on the look out for the next adventure life has in store. One thing is for sure however, I will continue with music and the recording sciences in some way. My intention is to serve as a source of inspiration and assistance for others and never let my light go out.

MP: Thank you for being here at Madame Perry’s Salon. Please visit again.

JS: Thanks so much for having me, it is a true pleasure to chat with you any time!

MP: Click on over to Joey's website, his facebook page, and tweet with him. And get your very own copy of Mixture and Joey's other CDs.


David H. said...

Great interview! I'll check out Joey's site and music!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Madame Perry!!! We love every thing Joey!!! He is a true tour de force and a great producer for anyone who is thinking of recording a CD! He is unsurpassed!

Sue g. Wilkinson said...

Sue Wilkinson here. I've had the pleasure of listening to Joey's music for years. There are very few individuals out there with the depth and range of Joey Stuckey. I adore all his recordings. Take a Walk in the Shadows and Mixture are some of my favs but it's really hard to pick one because they are all so good!!
Check it out on Amazon!! Joey is a genius!!

Unknown said...

Enjoyed your blog and this interview.
If you get a chance, please stop by my blog and say hi.


Tom Rule said...

Greetings, Madame Perry!

I'm the aforementioned Tom Rule, Joey's co-conspirator for MIXTURE.

Very nice interview! YOur kind words are much appreciated. THe album was definitely a blast to record - we try to tell the stories in the video series "MIXTUREcast". Hopefully everyone can tell how much fun we had making the album.

I lived with these tunes for 2 years as we wrote and recorded, and I am STILL liking them - so they must be pretty decent! In fact, we are performing 4 cuts from MIXTURE in a performance in Atlanta in a couple of weeks.

http://joeystuckey.blogspot.com/p/all-tunes.html has all the links I could assemble in one place referring to MIXTUREcast, performace videos, and such.

Really did enjoy reading your interview with Joey!

Madame Perry said...

Delighted to meet you, Tom Rule! Thanks for reading and commenting. Also big thanks to David H and Sue G Wilkinson for commenting. Always feel free to share these in a tweet, or give me suggestions for interviews! Mme Perry