Rock, alt Country, Blues and Gospel
He describes himself as a “Joe the Music Artist kind of guy,” a musical ‘every man’ that appeals as much to younger rock fans as he does to sixty year old music lovers who grew up obsessed with Bob Dylan.
Joe Welsh isn’t flashy, and he isn’t the next Joe Satriani or Jimi Hendrix. What Joe is, however, is a guy that writes and records an appealing brand of working class Midwestern folk rock. As a musician, he’s equally skilled at crafting his from-the-heart words and composing his soulful, accessible music. His songs are real and straightforward pieces of life – growing up, living hard, working harder, loving deep and just trying to be a good guy. Joe Welsh started out life in another appropriately working class town – Tacoma, Washington – during what he laughingly refers to as “a cold steel rain.” He says he stood out in his family as the only one playing an instrument or obsessed with music. His influences growing up included everything from Southern California punk rock, Ani DiFranco and classic rock greats like The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.
Joe took recorder and piano lessons in his elementary years, and later joined a band with some friends while he was in college. Even though he took a few piano lessons as a child, it wasn’t until Joe’s college years that guitar really began to be the center of his universe.
“I used to go to hippie parties in college where there was beer and smoke and a drum circle, and I would just improvise like mad on guitar. Those were some beautiful times.”
With his strong dislike for performing cover songs, Joe says he was “Never able to lock into my own thing until my late 20’s.”
When Joe finally started to perform and ‘lock into his own thing,’ it was in Los Angeles, worlds away from the blue collar life in Michigan. For several years, Joe was quite the rising star among acoustic-based singer/songwriters in L.A. He recorded dozens of demos and landed a management deal, with big label support right around the corner. But, like countless numbers of musicians on the brink of something big, the ‘buzz’ surrounding his music and the support looming on the horizon faded away. Joe says he eventually moved back home and settled in Chicago, where he worked whatever jobs he could find.
He worked in construction and as a truck driver, and eventually settled in with an $8 an hour job at a Delphi subsidiary plant making GM brake lines. During his truck driver days, Joe says the soundtrack to his long trips included simple, down to earth music by older country artists like Roger Miller and Johnny Cash. The country music influences were inescapable on the road. While he worked the second shift on the GM assembly line, Joe spent his mornings recording and arranging the songs that would later be included on his nine song self-titled debut.
Within those nine songs, Joe sings about past loves, darker times in his life, and finding faith in a higher power. Whether he is picking out softer, somber songs acoustically or turning up the amp, Joe Welsh says that music for him is about “finding and telling the truth.” “There is usually a truth underneath a form of anger that needs to express itself,” Joe explains. “That’s what I want others to hear in my music – that story in my music. Maybe there’s something there in the song that reveals to the listener something about themselves. And it’s always a healing thing….”