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Coventry resident shares take on classic rock at Civic

3/27/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Joe Vitale Jr. will perform with his band at the Akron Civic Theatre April 4.
Photo courtesy of Joe Vitale Jr.
DOWNTOWN AKRON — As a child, Joe Vitale Jr. thought he would become an astronaut. That changed the night he stepped onstage at Blossom Music Center.

“When I was real young, I used to go on the road with my dad,” said Vitale, the son of rock drummer Joe Vitale, who has played with the Eagles and Joe Walsh. “When I was 10, he started asking if I ever wanted to come out on stage. One night I played tambourine with Crosby, Stills and Nash at Blossom. When I saw 19,000 people screaming, I thought, this is a lot more fun.”

Within a couple of years, Vitale was taking drum lessons, and eventually he picked up other rock instruments. He started writing his own songs as a freshman at Jackson High School.

Now 36 and a Coventry Township resident, Vitale is performing locally with his band in a special cabaret show on stage at the Akron Civic Theatre April 4 at 8 p.m.

“As of May 30, it’s three years we’ve been together,” he said. “I’ve wanted the past couple of years to play the Civic, so I was so excited when this opportunity came up. It’s going to be mostly originals that night, but we’ll have some covers everyone will enjoy.”

He performs on vocals and guitar with Trevor Wozniak on guitar, Ryan McDermott on guitar and bass and Dylan Gomez on drums.

Vitale describes his music as a combination of the classic rock of Walsh and The Who mixed with alternative electronic music, “like a cleaner version of Nine Inch Nails,” he said.

He started working on Dancing With Shadows in 2000 and released the record in 2008. Now he’s working on new material.

“I primarily am trying to make it as a musician, but I also am a cinematographer for videos and films,” he said.

He added that he and his father have joined another Joe Vitale — a best-selling self-help author and entrepreneur — in several projects.

“I’m doing a music video for his healing music,” Vitale said. “The fun part is he has my dad play on some of the music he’s doing.”

Vitale also has played locally as a member of the Crosby, Stills and Nash tribute band Ohio that saw him playing the drums, as his father did for the band.

At the Akron show, Vitale said his father is planning to be on hand in the lobby to sign copies of his autobiography, “Backstage Pass.” He added he’s appreciated the advice his father has given him about making it in the music business.

“He’s told me to always try something, even if it doesn’t go the way you want,” he said. “Also, always be very fluidic with the industry because it’s always changing. It’s a very tough industry.”

Vitale said the current status of the music business has its pros and cons.

“It’s a lot different than when my dad started out,” he said. “It’s a double-edged sword: It’s easier in some ways, with music software, and distribution is easier, but it’s more difficult to get radio play. While it’s a lot easier to create music and get it out there, the problem is there are a whole lot of people doing that ... and it’s very difficult to get noticed.”

He’s giving it his best shot, though, he said.

“I wear every hat in the group,” he said. “I’m the leader of the band and write the music we do unless we are doing covers. I’m always trying to find new venues to play.”

Later this year, he said he has gigs lined up at Canal Park before an Akron RubberDucks game May 30 and an appearance at Lock 3 Park this summer.

Tickets for the show at the Civic, 182 S. Main St., are $15 or two for $25. For more information, call 330-253-2488 or go to www.akroncivic.com or www.joevitalejr.com.

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