25
Jan
12

Guest Star: Jeff Stitely tells us his start in music

For this month’s Musician Spotlight, who better to sit down with than Stitely Entertainment’s own Jeff Stitely? We found out what inspires the President/Founder as a professional musician, what’s on his iPod and more.

Stitely Entertainment (SE): What are the five songs or albums you’re listening to the most right now?

Jeff Stitely (JS):

1) Rihanna – We Found Love

2) Chris Siebold & Psycles

3) Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil

4) Salif Keita – Soro

5) Howard Levy – Trio Globo

SE: Who or what inspired you to be a professional musician?

JS: Well, I have had a drive to be a musician since I was 10.  But I’d have to say the first person was Ron Helm, my junior high school band director. He was like a shining light in the teachers that I had at the time. He was so engaged and loved music so much. I was already turned on to music but he had a vision for me going beyond what most kids do. When I was in 8th grade, he had me audition for the all-state band, which was something I’d never heard of and also something that no one in junior high had done before. I auditioned and became the all-state timpanist in the concert band. We then went upstate and the best musicians in the whole state we there. It was just an incredible experience…hanging out with these amazing musicians and learning that there was a whole world of people who are serious about being musicians.

The other person who was a huge inspiration was my dad. He played for the church and just loved music. He played classical music around the house when I was young and as with Ron, he helped make music a part of my life.

SE: What’s your craziest event story?

JS: I got hired to sub for another drummer at the Medinah Country Club and it ended up being a trio with two really old guys. It was for all the male members of the country club, all of whom were between the ages of 70 and 95. We played background music for the men as they were just hanging out and socializing, when they brought a stripper in! The stripper was at least 60 years old and I had to play music while she was stripping for these men! It was definitely one of my weirdest gigs…

SE: Do you have any regular gigs?

JS: I have a jazz trio gig at The Clubhouse in Oakbrook, IL the third Thursday every month. Generally, I just lead the company and play private events with gigs at jazz clubs periodically.

SE: What was your first concert?

JS: The first professional gig I played at was at the Old Spain with a piano player as a piano and drum duo behind the bar. We played and sang as people were eating dinner and I was only 15 years old. And that summer, I got a gig on a cruise ship!

As for the first concert I’ve ever been to, my dad had season tickets to the Broward County Performing Arts Series and I saw all sorts of performances. The first jazz concert that I remember was George Shearing and I also saw Rusty Jones perform with him, who is an amazing drummer who now lives in Chicago.

SE: If you could share the stage with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?

JS: John Coltrane. There was an authenticity and a searching quality that he had his whole life. There was an undying quest for who he was and what’s possible in terms of his instrument…what’s possible in terms of expression…what’s possible in terms of the power that music can have to move people.

SE: You’re stuck on a desert island forever. Which three albums do you want with you?

JS:

  1. Wayne Shorter – Speak No Evil
  2.  Joni Mitchell – Night Ride Home
  3. Salif Keita – Soro

SE: Beatles or Stones?

JS: Beatles. Because of their songwriting.

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