Jamie Lono back in Vernon Hills and moving on
Jamie Lono | Photo from Mike Danenberg Photography
Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave., Chicago
April 28 at 6 p.m.
Tickets for the 17 and over show are $10
Call (773) 278-6600
Durty Nellie’s, 180 N. Smith St., Palatine
Tickets are $7
Call (847) 358-9150 for showtime or see www.durtynellies.com
Updated: April 24, 2012 7:30PM
After playing guitar in a metal band (“it was a screamo band, but I didn’t do much of the screaming”) during his years at Vernon Hills High School, ’07 grad Jamie Lono chose a new musical direction that paid off earlier this year when he won a spot on NBC’s reality/talent show “The Voice.”
Reflecting his move toward softer, gentler, acoustic singer/songwriter material, Lono, 23, auditioned with a soulful rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues” that led to his being mentored by rapper/producer Cee Lo Green.
Though he only made it through one more round of “The Voice,” the national exposure has given a major jolt to Lono’s career, leading to an appearance on “The Today Show,” talks with management companies and record labels, plans to record a self-produced debut album of original songs with his band Feel Good Nation and numerous local shows.
Next up, he’s headlining appearance April 28 at Subterranean, 2011 W. North Avenue, Chicago. For links to sites detailing his various activities, visit jamielonomusic.com.
Pioneer caught up with Lono (a stage name taken from the Hawaiian god of music and peace) for a quick chat about his past, his plans and finding his own way in music.
Q: How did you begin in music?
A: I taught myself how to play guitar when I was about 14. I was in a metal band with my best friends called The Dial. We would play out maybe once or twice a month for almost four years. The band broke up when everyone went to college, and around that time there was a fire at our house and we had to live in a hotel for three or four months. That’s when I started playing acoustic guitar and singing and writing and getting into the softer side of music.
Q: That’s quite a change. How did you make the transition?
A: My Dad always had good music playing. I grew up listening to the Allman Brothers and James Taylor and stuff like that and I always felt drawn to it. I got into metal in high school because I thought it would make me seem cool, I guess. When that was over I went back and rediscovered my own interests.
Metal music has a lot of anger in it, you know. Acoustic music, singer/songwriter stuff has a way of really tugging at your emotions.
Q: Who has been your biggest musical influence?
A: First and foremost, Johnny Cash. He’s one of my favorite artists because he took such a no-nonsense approach to music: You can tell he was thinking, “This is the way I want to play my music and you’re gonna like it.” (Laughs.) That’s the kind of approach I’d like to take.
I don’t like to be too self-critical and too spot-on with my playing. I like the realness of messing up a chord now and then or hitting some wrong notes. And think Johnny Cash was the same way.
Q: What was it like working with Cee Lo Green?
A: It was really cool, just to go to his house. (Laughs.) I mean, he’s one of the top artists of his generation and it’s really great to get to meet someone who’s struggled to get where he is in the industry. It was a crazy opportunity to meet him and get as much advice as I could.
Q: When “The Voice” announced you’d won a spot on the show, the producers posted a video of you getting the news at the Potbelly’s Restaurant where you made sandwiches. Are you still working there?
A: Not as much. (Laughs.) I’ve been able to start supporting myself by doing music, which is exactly what I wanted. I’ll pick up a shift every once in awhile, just because I like working there. Nice people.
Q: What are your plans?
A: I just started recording an album with my band. We had a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to record it and make a video, with a goal of raiding $3500 in 40 days. And we ended up making the goal in about three hours. And we’ve been playing a lot of shows. I even got to sing the national anthem at a Bulls game. It’s been unreal. I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities from this. It’s been crazy. I got to go on the “Today” show and there seems to be more of that sort of thing happening.
We’re going to keep on doing shows and hopefully, if they going well, moving up into bigger venues. The most important thing, though, is getting the album out so we can shop it around to different management companies, while they know who I am. It’ll also be available on iTunes and all over.
Basically, though, the plan is just to keep on making music. I just love to sing and play guitar. I think it’s the one thing I was meant to do.