Q: Thank you, Joey, for being part of our music interview. Tell us more about Macon, Georgia.
Macon is a true music city starting with the poet and musician Sidney Lanier, also being the home of such diverse and talented artists like Little Richard, Otis Redding, the Allman Brothers, Wet Willie, Jason Aldean and many others. Our town is known for its historical landmarks such as the Allman Brothers Museum “The Big House”, The Georgia Sports Hall Of Fame, and Sidney Lanier cottage just to name a few. I moved to Macon when I was 15 and I got my first paying job at the local planetarium as their sound technician. I’m proud to say that I am now teaching at several Georgia universities located in Macon and I am also the official music ambassador for Macon as well. Macon is also the birthplace for the novelty instrument — the kazoo. As the official music ambassador for Macon, I often gift official Joey Stuckey kazoos to some of the legendary artists I have met in my travels including members of Yes, Spiro Gyra, Charlie Daniels, and even Gene Simmons from KISS.
Q: We know you are a speaker as well as a musician. Tell us about the differences in engaging an audience from both perspectives?
At their heart, both speaking and performing are simply different forms of communication. In both, you are hoping to inform and entertain. When performing music the goal is to entertain but also as artists our job is to act as historians, reminding people of the past and in addition, to help them think of the world we share in new ways. As a speaker that does inspirational talks about being a blind brain tumor survivor but also master classes in music business and music technology, I still have the goal of entertaining but I am seeking a way to communicate ideas that will inform people’s lives in a positive way for years to come, either through inspiring them to take a leap of faith and pursue their passion or by educating them and giving them attainable goals that will lead to long term happiness and success in the field of music.
The only major difference between performing and teaching is whether or not I am singing and playing the guitar. And as I teach classes in voice and guitar, sometimes there’s no difference at all. LOL
Q: When did you first pick up an instrument to play?
Interestingly, when I was 5 years old, my mother had a crazy idea that I was going to be a musician. She tried to get me lessons with a music professor at a local university.
He said he didn’t take students that young but somehow my mom persuaded him to take me. For my first and only lesson with him, he told my mom that it was impossible, that my hands were just too small and that the guitar was bigger than I was. while an avid music fan, I didn’t take up the guitar again until I was 17 years old but I haven’t put it down since.
Q: Are you self taught or trained?
I am overly trained (lol). I started guitar lessons at 17 years of age with Terry Cantwell who is not only a great teacher but my brother from another mother. He is one of the smartest and kindest people I have ever known. My first lesson with Terry, he took a box of sand and drew the shapes of the musical notes in it so that I would understand their form even though I couldn’t see to read them. He taught me a lot of music theory, which is still an integral part of how I think and how I use my mind to overcome the challenge of not being able to read sheet music.
While we tried to investigate Braille music, we eventually discarded this concept and decided to simply use my excellent memory, intuition and theoretical knowledge as my tools for learning and creating music. I eventually went on to study music at Mercer University where I am now professor of music technology. I also had the opportunity to study guitar with Stanley Jordan.
In addition to the guitar, I play bass and sing at professional levels and also play keys, percussion, mandolin, ukulele and spend most of my days as a full-time producer, sound engineer and arranger.
Q: We would love to learn more about your studio and your latest production credits. Please tell us more…
The studio is called Shadow Sound (www.shadowsoundstudio.com) and I have been in business at my current location since 1996 as the owner, in-house producer, session musician, and senior engineer. The next year 2020 will see the expansion of the studio into an adjacent building that is approximately 9000 square feet. We are really pulling out all the stops on this space and will be getting started breaking ground on this project in August of this year.
My current studio will become our B-Room. The console I’m using in my current facility is a 96 channel Soundtracs Jade. I also have a plethora of boutique analog gear from API, SSL, Neve, Warm Audio, Retrosonics, Imperial Labs, Aphex, Chameleon, JDK, Eventide, Lexicon, TL Audio, and many more. We have an Essex baby grand piano powered by Steinway, drum kits from DW and Slingerland, and an ever-expanding microphone collection from Neumann, Sennheiser, Blue, AKG, sE, Shure, Royers, Telefunken, Warm Audio, and many more.
I also have state of the art digital technology with over 100 TB of hard drive, 64 gigs of RAM, thousands of plug-ins and sample libraries, and software from Melodyne, IZotope, Audified, Magix, Waves, Native Instruments, Arturia, and more. As a blind person, analog technology is extremely handy as the third knob from the left always does the same thing. Digital technology, with its flexibility and graphically driven interfaces, is more challenging for the blind but many companies are now recognizing that accessibility is something that all people should have and that making products accessible is not that difficult if they start with accessibility in their plan when making their product.
It is somewhat more challenging, however, to retrofit products and make them accessible after the fact. Fortunately, I find that analog equipment gives me the character I want and so the fact that it is also easier for me to manipulate as a blind person makes my choice to have boutique analog gear in combination with the latest digital technology a good strategy.
I have been honoured to record a host of talented artists and bands. A few names your may recognize include Al Chez (Tower of Power), Randall Bramblett (Traffic), Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie and Jeff Beck Band), Mike Mills (R.E.M.), Chuck Leavell (Rolling Stones), Chris Hicks (Marshall Tucker), David Ragsdale (Kansas), Huey Thomason (Outlaws), Jimmy Herring (Allman Brothers Band), and Ben Tucker (Herbie Mann). I’ve also done work for the Georgia Lottery, Cartoon Network, Pfizer, Chase Bank, The Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and the United States Air Force.
Q: Where can we see one of your live shows this summer?
My band, the Joey Stuckey Trio, has released a new album called “In The Shadow Of The Sun” and will be touring the east coast from June 16 through June 30, hitting NYC, Boston, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. Visit www.joeystuckey.com for the most up to date concert info as we are continuing to add dates throughout the summer.
Q: Thank you for your time and any other info you would like to share with our audience please feel free.
I would greatly appreciate music fans taking the time to check out my music on Spotify and visiting my main website www.joeystuckey.com. Make sure to click over to the fan zone where we have a lot of wonderful content for fans that we have worked hard to curate. There you will also be able to get free music and sign up for the email newsletter. We also strive to make our social media interesting and relevant, keeping our fans informed of new music, tour dates, photos and videos of my adventures and fun interactive content like my random picture taking we call “Blind Guys Snaps”.