A little about me ……well without going into too much detail or writing a novel, my childhood was one with music filling it daily. I remember Elvis was big in our house, the 8-track playing constantly with a mixture of country and R/B, from Conway Twitty to Al Green to Supertramp. Along with that, having five sisters that played rock, pop and disco so that I never knew what I was going to hear from one minute to the next. Whether I felt good or bad, music was there during it all, and got me through anything.
By the time I reached 16, I was going to the rock clubs in town, sneaking in to hear the local bands play. Over a short period, I befriended many of the road crew, and would help them load in or out, that was how I cut my teeth in the production side of music. In 1988 a local band asked me to go out with them and it was my first taste of production on the road. Almost a year later, a chance meeting happened in Augusta, Georgia. Another local band from my hometown was playing a club across the street. I was asked to join their road crew as they were one person shy and needed a stage manager. After thinking about it the rest of the afternoon, I finally decided to take the dive and go out with them. I was torn about it for a while, as the band I was with had slowly become brothers to me. My best friend in life at the time was the drummer. It was not an easy decision to make, especially when a best friend is in the mix.
This new band was called Still Rain, with four of their members being close friends of mine from the club scene in my hometown. Unbeknownst to the rest of America, this group that had just formed and hired me to the road crew, was about to explode on the music scene. Up and down the East coast and across the Midwest we toured, packing the house and making new fans along the way. With almost every national act we opened up for trying to steal band members after watching them play just once, I knew what magic these guys had at a VERY early age. The lineup consisted of Donnie Hamby – lead vocals (Doubledrive ,Violent Plan) , Corey Lowery – bass/vocals (Stuck Mojo, Stereomud, Switched, Dark New Day, Violent Plan, and now, Eye Empire), Bevan Davies – percussion (Madfly, Comes with the Fall, Danzig, Jerry Cantrell, think Alice and Chains, Static X, Invitro, Cardboard Vampyres, The Mercy Clinic, Bloodsimple, and now, Monstro), Clint Lowery – lead guitar/vocals (Dark New Day, Korn, Call Me No One, and now, Sevendust), Troy McLawhorn – lead guitar/vocals (Doubledrive, Dark New Day, Seether, and now, Evanescence). As you can see they went on to have huge careers with some of the biggest acts in the world, and lucky me, I got to experience the beginnings of their musical careers up close and personal.
Two years and hundreds of clubs later, I took a year-long break to do the 9 to 5 before eventually getting the music itch again. This time with a small production company that worked with national acts, which ran through the East coast club circuit. That led to another job offer working for an even bigger production company, eventually landing me shows with Tim McGraw, Marilyn Manson, and even Wu Tang Clan, among others. Fast forward to 2002, and my son’s birth…after much thought I decided to forgo any gigs out-of-town that would take me away from him. Being away from my son was not an option for me, so I pursued other musical entities that let me stay in the area. Working a 9 to 5 job, along with booking national acts and promoting concert events kept me in the loop, but still kept me at home every night. Standing Room Only Magazine is yet another chapter in a life that has been filled with music, since I was a child. Working with people who I consider family, and that love music as much as I do, I don’t consider it a job, but something I enjoy doing. Meeting new friends, new musicians, new bands, new clubs, interviewing some of the biggest acts in the world… . What person in their right mind wouldn’t love doing that? Seeing musicians start the musical journey from an unknown garage band to rock festival size gigs with 80,000 fans, knowing the excitement they will feel…I am truly blessed to have experienced music like I have. Also to have forged the friendships and work relationships, with not only some of the world’s best musicians, but great human beings, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. No way….………J.Z.
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