Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Blind Man Drivin'”?Did any event inspired you to write this song?Any plans to release a video for the single?
JS— These are great questions. To truly understand I should make sure that readers know that I am over 35 and been blind since about 2 years old.
Regarding the song “Blind Man Drivin’”, while I produced and arranged the song and played lead guitar, bass and vocals, the song was written for me by a great friend of mine, Henry Oliner. Henry said something to the effect that he wantedto form a blues band around my talent as a front person and call the band Blind Man Drivin’ because I would be at the wheel–so to speak. We did this and played one show. It was just some friends playing together because we wanted to and our first show was a great success. However, it just became hard to get together with all our different schedules and I am the only one of the friends that made a full-time living doing music, so we never got the chance to play again. Henry’s idea became a song that he wrote specifically for me and I loved it and recorded it.
I have had this song done for a while, but then two events made me know it was time to put it out.
First, I was visiting with a dear friend of mine, Kimberly Dawn and her amazing family at their home in California and she has this amazing property with lots of room on it. She said, “Hey, Joey, do you want to drive my four-wheeler?” I have always wanted to drive and while I was a bit scared I agreed to do it. I figured if she was crazy enough to let me drive then I was crazy enough to do it. We had a great time and if you look on YouTube, you can find a 3-minute video of me driving that four-wheeler. The first thing I do is almost turn it over, but I do get betterJ I got so much positive feedback from that video and so many people told me how they had been inspired from me driving that I started thinkingwhat a great idea for a video for the “Blind Man Drivin’” song. I kept the idea on the back burner and then in 2015 I had the chance to be a keynote speaker at the University College of London where the first ever conference about blind people making music took place. It was called the VisuallyImpaired Musicians’ Lives Conference and was the brain child of Dr David Baker and Dr Lucy Green. They were conducting research on the topic and working on a forth coming bookin which I am featured and this wonderful conferencecame out of their research. I just knew that it was time to get the song out there. I sent the song to David and Lucy and they loved it and agreed to make it the official theme song of the conference, and then I knew it was time to make the video which can be found at the link below. I also did a version of the video narrated for the blind and to my knowledge this is the first ever audio described music video also at a link below.
When it was time to do my new EP “Six String Soldier” I knew that “Blind Man Drivin’” would be the single!
The single comes off your new album Six String Soldier – what’s the story behind the title?
JS— Music has always been a way of sharing my story and has always been very empowering to me. Through music I can communicate in a way that everyone can tap in to. This year 2016 has been a real challenge for my family with my dad having a heart attack and my wife getting sick with an auto-immune disease. What has kept me and my family going is my music and the joy it brings to us. So, the idea of soldiering on and keeping going is how I came up with the title of “Six String Soldier”. I had originally planned on calling the next album “Blind Man Drivin’” but that just didn’t feel right anymore.
How was the recording and writing process?
JS— I always have fun recording and writing and it is always a great joy for me. I know a lot of people that don’t like the studio work, but I love it and make most of my living as a producer and engineer at my studio, Shadow Sound Studio. www.shadowsoundstudio.com
I also love the writing process! Someone just recently asked me in an interview what I did to get past any writers block. I honestly never have that problem. While I have some problems as a blind person and some other health issues I have from the brain tumor, expressing myself isn’t one of them and music is such a natural extension of my spirit that I just do it–it is like breathing for me.
What was it like to work with Charlie Hoskyns and how did that relationship develop?
JS— Charlie is an amazing producer and engineer and musician and song writer! He has a home studio and I have my commercial studio and so we trade files back and forth via the internet. Writing with Charlie is a little different than when I have co-written with other colleagues in that he sends me a recording of him playing guitar/bass/drums and a hand full of other instruments but no vocals. So, I write the lyrics and vocal melody. I will also contribute lead guitar tracks and sometimes some other instruments but the initial sound comes from Charlie. What is different, and I really like doing it this way, is that Charlie’s choices guide my choices. So, while I leave the music up to him and he leaves the vocals up to me, his choices inform mine. This is great because I am encouraged to go outside my comfort zone to come up with ideas.
I met Charlie through a mutual friend while I was on tour in 2015 in the UK. Charlie came out to see me perform one night and we were instantly friends and knew that we some day would work together. Late last year we started and we have written and recorded some of the best music I have been a part of.
What made you want to seek for a satirical approach on this album?
JS— Just like music in general is part of my spirit, so is humor. They are both part of how I interpret the world and how I cope with it. So, when you see me perform live you would get about 30% comedyroutine and about 70% music.
I write about anything. Life is so interesting but a little humor makes the bad medicine go down better and adds a bit of spark to everyday life, so I season my music with it liberally!
Would you say this a new and matured record or rather a back-to-the-roots type of album?
JS— It’s funny, in a way, this music is a lot simpler than some of the music I have done previously but it is also more complex. I love music and try to resist putting a label on it. I play a variety of styles and love almost all kinds of music. My jazz album “Mixture” was number 9 on the CMJ top 40 jazz charts back in 2012/2013. However, I have found that people really respond to me when I sing the blues or Americana or roots music, so that is what I am working on and offering my fans.
You have had the chance to collaborate and work with the likes of Alan Parsons – how have all these experiences influenced you as an artist?
JS— Every time you get to work with someone new, famous or beginner, you can learn something. Alan is a true genius and I always learn something in his presence. How I have been influenced by artists I have worked with might be something as simple as a new approach of a chord voicing or a rhythm. With Alan I know my snare drum recording, something all my clients have always believed to be one of my strong points, has gotten better after being in the studio with Alan.
Any plans to hit the road?
JS— I was working on a UK tour and might still do that, but, Charlie Hoskins was going to be a big part of that tour and unfortunately has a conflict with most of 2017 so we are still not sure about that, but we are booking shows and already have 4 or 5 for early 2017. I mostly go to colleges and universities and spend a week teaching music technology and music business and then performing around that area. I like to stay on the road for a few weeks at a time but not for months or years because of my studio work. However, I love to perform so if I can afford to take the job performing for anyone that wants me, I will be there!
What else is happening next in Joey Stuckey’s world?
JS— Well, we are trying to get the word out on this current EP “Six String Soldier” and sharing the compilation CD I produced and released this year called “Ladies of The South” which is an all-female artist album, you can find out more at www.ladiesofthesouthmusic.com.
I am finishing up a set of songs with Charlie that will be a full-length album and some comical country songs with my buddy Tom Rule and finishing another EP with my buddy Rob Fenimore. Plus, I have all my studio projects with various clients. I love this time of year, when an old year is coming to an end and a new one beginning, because there are so many new projects to start. I am also working on my first biography and hope to have that book about my life thus far out around fall of 2017. If you want to check in to see how these projects are going or to have me produce your next recording just stop by www.joeystuckey.com.