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Joe Vestich - When you are with the band playing and you are making people happy, that’s after all my great ambition

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Joe Vestich - When you are with the band playing and you are making people happy, that’s after all my great ambition

Joe Vestich is a singer, songwriter, guitarist and visual artist who moved to Finland in 1986. Joe has played with Dave Lindholm, Heikki Silvennoinen and Aku Syrjä in bands such as Northwind, Screaming Thunders and Messengers. Joe has also collaborated on albums with Costello Hautamäki, Jonne Aaron, SF-Blues and Paleface. Joe is now having new material and touring extensively as a solo artist, duo and with his own Joe Vestich Band. Occasionally, when schedules permit, Joe also duets with Dave Lindholm and Heikki Silvennoinen. Joe's music ranges smoothly from folk to country and rock´n´roll to rhythm´n´blues. This is a man worth listening to!  We of course talk about his new release ‘Steal the Wind’ and the influence he had, but also future plans.

Joe, start by telling us more about yourself? How did it all start, who and what were your big influences?
I’m from USA but living in Finland since 1986. I came over here as a university student. I used to play little concerts in small pubs. I started play some acoustic sets, back in that year. I was approached by a very important musician here, Dave Lindholmi. He is like a legend over here. He asked me to play some gigs with him, and said he liked my way of playing. I was getting back to USA, but next summer I was playing big festivals and that’s how it all started here in Finland.

You have shared the stage with Dave Lindholm, Heikki Silvennoisen and Aku Syrjän kanssa, how did those collaborations come about? And what influence did they have on you carrier as musician?
We all share the same into roots music, those guys where big into Blues. I was more a country guy in that time. I was playing Johnny Cash and Hank Williams and those things. But there is a connection between Country and Blues, for sure. At least that kind of country music I like. Soo I don’t think they been influence me, but we shared the same interest in the music, the legend and things.

That’s something interesting you say there is a connection between Country and Blues, what is that connection exactly then?
The chord barriers are quite the same, I would say. The words, at least in the old traditional country. At the moment there is stuff that is not real country anymore I think. It’s usually sad songs, in country but also in Blues, that’s a connection to. Things like, you lost your girl and now you drinking that stuff. It’s there in Blues and Country. The only difference is the beats, that’s quite different.

You also said ‘the old country’ what’s wrong about the ‘new country’ for you than?
It’s not real country anymore, it’s more like kind a of pop music. My former band made, in America, is now CEO of Warner music , he is the number one of Warner music and country music. I send him the record and he said ‘’Joe this is great, but this is retro Americana Roots music and we are a mainstream country’’. But that’s the problem in America, I get to play there every year, right now it’s pretty mixed up. It’s the politics and things there.. I have friends on both sides republicans and democrats. When they ask me what side I ‘am I tell I live in Finland. I’m more liberal minded, but not get involved in it. But like it is now, America it is getting worse in America, and that have a influxes on how they think about music and stuff to.

About influences. Finland, the country itself , did that have an influence on your music style?
Not sure the country itself have an  influence on me as musician. I set up in my mind and heart, what kind a music I want to do. For a long time, this music was not so much accepted in Finland. But it’s rolling a lot now. Thanks to internet and social media all types of music coming in, it’s easy to catch it. Soo we could get young people get interest in country and Blues. Soo the country changed, not by me, but the internet and things.. that’s more the thing I guess.

What where the highs and lows till now for you after 40 years?
That’s a difficult question to answer. There is been a lot highs and a lot lows (haha). In the late 70’s me and my brother had a band that was very popular. We had full houses everywhere, big crowds. But we were young and there was boys and girls, and drugs. Unfortunately it didn’t last. Soo that was sure something very big. But nowadays we still get a good full house, no matter where we coming. That’s a high to. Specially the big clubs, I like concerts also and festivals. When you have a big crowd follow around you, that’s something you have in those clubs. And that are moments of highs. The lows? Par example two years ago in Florida I was play in a Bicro bar ((not understood this to well)) half way to the there was the owner, a very ruff women, and she just give me half the money and said ‘this is not working, pack up and get out’ that’s one of those sad moments that we can call one of the lows. But that’s a American problem ,  I think sure in this days. Like we talk about before here. There is a lot going on there…

Let’s talk about the new album. Joe Vestich band is your solo project, with 'steal the wind' you bring out another warm-hearted masterpiece. A kind of cozy 'campfire' feeling comes over me, without sounding too corny.  There are even some folk influence and somewhere I even hear some Bob Dylan passing by. What is your opinion about this statement?
I agree with you. When I was a kid my father was big into Folk music. He was a big fan of Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. When I was very young my dad use to listen to a band called The Winston tree , they were big in the early 60ths. In America, they were students in the south-California. Were my dad was. That sure had his influence on me. About Bob Dylan? Country have had a big influence on Bob Dylan, that’s why there is this link.   

Bob Dylan was also a protest singer ,  I find in your voice and thing, that there is some kind of madness or frustration coming out , especially in this new album Is that correct?
That frustration is having a lot to do with this pandemic we are living in. No gigs, no work. And the money I have saved to make the record, I had to use to pay the rent. In that way there was a frustration. About the way things were going and how difficult it was to make this album, got me frustrated and that’ is sure coming back in this album.

I suppose these corona times have had an influence on you too. To what extent have these times influenced your career, positively and negatively? Writing new songs?
There sure was a lot writing going on, because there was not much to do. I even have material for the next record (haha).

It's also a very varied record, some songs like 'Rocket girl' (the title covers the load) are really rock others rather subdued is that a path you consciously follow?
There is a connection between rock’n’roll and country , the old country is coming from the Blues and rock music, like Elvis and things

That’s what I liked the most about this record, it’s a combination of all this styles between country, folk and blues, wonderful?
Great to hear that, when I was young I listen a lot to the Beatles they touched on everything. They did country stuff, and pretty heavy things like ‘Helter Skelter’. Also The Rolling stones have this blend of Country, rock’n’roll and blues in there sound, they started as a Blues band.

Let’s say all rock music started with Blues and a specially black people play music?
It all started with slaves playing blues, and even they were slaves, they play happy music. That’s where it indeed all started, as far as I know.

Now we talk about play Blues, how it comes there are still more older people at Blues gigs?
I’m doing a lot Blues gigs, 12 November it was the release gig of the new album here in Finland. I’m doing a lot mixes of styles, we brought the whole album but in between we bring some old blues classic. But also things like Chuck Berry and Elvis stuff. And I have noticed , at least here in Finland, more and more younger people coming to this kind of concerts. And to our gigs. But when I hear my friends, who doing more Blues then I do that’s most a older crowd of fans, that’s true. It’s maybe because I mix things that make the young music fans coming to. A lot of those younger people also love Johnny Cash.. Before the pandemic I used to play a lot in Russia. And there is a blues scene, full of young people.

I guess it’s indeed because you mix things up … Anyway, something else about the record. Other songs have a melancholic to wistful side, again the question is that a deliberate choice?
Most of the songs are about women and relationships. It’s again about the blues thing we been talking about earlier. A lot relationships turn out pretty bad. That’s what this melancholic thing is all about I guess. Par example, that song ‘Rocking girl’ you mention. She coming to the release concert, en lives in Helsinki. We are still great friends. And I wanted celebrate what a cool girl she is.. also that’s this melancholic part. And that’s rock’n’roll to. 

What are your expectations of this release and what audience do you want to reach with it?
It’s just such a tuff business now because there are so many great bands and artists and songwriters this days. More than ever before. This Americana Blues Roots music is growing a lot. It’s very popular in Benelux county’s like Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium. But also in Germany. It’s growing pretty quickly in Finland but also Russia. I only hope that I get more gigs because of this record, I know people not buy records anymore this days, but I do hope this release can give me more gigs. Specially in Benelux. Because I see quiet many American Roots bands are coming there, also Germany. I still feel strong and health  to play gigs and travel. Play more places, and play for more people that’s why I doing this for.. that’s my expectation of this new record to, to keep going on that way.

I guess you’re going on tour with this album,? Anywhere, where can we see you on stage? What are your further plans for this and next years?
I’m doing some gigs in Finland, but normally in December I’m up to Lapland in the far north. In some ski resorts. In usual ,normal times, we get a lot tours in England. They like Roots music a lot there. Usual I’m a whole month up there. Now we just  have to wait because it’s not sure the situation is getting any better with this pandemic at all. Nothing, and also that English tour, is for sure now. We made reservation, but it’s still not sure anymore… I hope pretty soon, because otherwise I will be without work next month.

Are there any other project next to Joe Vestich band in the near future? Tell more about it?
What I normally doing , and hope is going to happen is, next to the ski season up North. In the middle of the winter I go to USA. I go to Pennsylvania where I grow up, and going to Florida. And I want to go to Texas. He producer work with all the big artists there, we do couple gigs with John in Texas and then we come back here in Finland for a few weeks, and hopefully in Europe. If I can find a booking agent there. I hope to set up some gigs in Belgium and Holland to. And come with John , and a Finish band to Europe next summer.. 

After all these years, do you still have some ‘end goal’ or ambitions? Something you want to do, but not doing before or something?
The times when I really feel good is on a gig. When you up there with the band playing and you making people happy, that’s after all those years still my goal and ambition.  When they smile, dance and have fun that’s a real thrill for me. Nothing have changed for me in that way. I liked play in Russia, the crowd that have fun, after all this year it’s still my biggest ambition.

With all you experience what is your advice to young artist who look up at what you have done and still doing?
I would just say, believe in yourself. Don’t ever give up, and stay away from alcohol and drugs. At least, don’t let it take control. I have seen , especially in Finland, seen guys falling down because just too much alcohol. It’s getting better with younger musicians, but from the older generations I have seen guys go down because they made alcohol and drugs control their lives.. Soo also be healthy, that’s another advice I would like to give. It’s a tuff job to be on the route all the time. For me exercise is very important I seen a lot people my age going down because they did not care about themselves. That’s pity.  Soo you have to be healthy in this kind of business but for you musicians just believe in yourself, in every way. And just go for it, no matter what. It’s in your heart or blood, you just have to go for it!

That’ s a wonderful advice to end this interview. I hope to see you on stage in Belgium in one of the nice clubs we have here, and good luck with you upcoming record. Is there anything you want to say to our readers?
I really hope to see you, I never been in Benelux. I have meet some Belgium and Holland people and also Luxembourg. When I started university here there were a lot guys from those country’s here. Soo yes  I just hope to Belgium, and meet you all…

Aanvullende informatie

  • Band Name: Joe Vestich
  • Date: 2021-11-15 23:00:00
  • Rating: 8
Gelezen: 113 keer
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