Since childhood, Joey Esce has aspired to a career as a professional entertainer.
This weekend, he’s taking the first steps toward making that happen.
The 17-year-old Liverpool High School junior will be holding a release party for his debut EP, “Songs from the Heart,” from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, at Sharkey’s Sports Bar and Restaurant, 7240 Oswego Road in Liverpool. There he’ll perform songs from the CD, along with friend Justin Bertolero, who will provide bass accompaniment. Admission is free.
“Recording my first professional CD was a goal I set for myself at the beginning of last year,” said Esce, who sings and plays guitar on the record. “I had written a large number of songs — I probably have more than 20, easily— and I wanted to be able to share them with as many people as I can.”
Music has been a part of Esce’s life for as long as he can remember. He comes from a family of musicians — his father sings and plays guitar, and older sisters Francesca and Antoinette were both involved in LHS’s music program, as is Joey; he’s the brass captain for the LHS Marching band, as well as second chair in the Symphonic Band. He plays piano, guitar and trombone, and he’s a member of FAME, an elite group at the high school.
“Growing up around music all the time certainly had an effect on me,” Esce said. “As I got older, I found it was the best way for me to express myself. I tried sports and other activities, but none had that deep emotional connection for me that one finds in the things they love. I did find that in music, and I’ve stuck with it.”
In addition to playing music, Esce said he’s found an emotional outlet through songwriting.
“I think everyone has encountered songs in their life that have put to words what they could not express, and it can turn someone’s entire day around. That’s what I hope my music does for people,” he said. “I hope at least one person will listen to even just one song and feel like they aren’t alone, like there are other people who know how they feel. That to me is the most beautiful thing about music. Our assistant director for marching band, [Sky] Harris, always tells us to change lives with our performances. Every song is open to interpretation, and all I hope to accomplish is that people feel something when they listen to it.”
In particular, Esce finds himself drawn to acoustic music, namely the work of New England-born singer-songwriter Ray Lamontangne, whom Esce calls his inspiration.
“He puts so much soul into his music, which is something I strive for,” he said. “Almost all the music on my phone is Ray, and I listen to it for every occasion, it’s such a versatile genre, which is part of the reason why I write acoustic music. But mostly I think the genre just matches who I am as a person, and I’m sure the same holds true for any musician.”
Like many songwriters, Esce said he rarely sets out with the intention to write a song. Generally, he puts pen to paper when the inspiration strikes.
“I always say that I write songs on accident, and that is true. Ideas come to me randomly throughout the day, and I have to seize that opportunity to write it down,” he said. “The songs just come out all together like an overflowing sink of emotions. I usually end up writing songs after something occurs in my life, minor and major, as long as I feel something in that moment. Most of the songs on the EP were written very quickly. For example, the song “Bowtie” was written in about 25 minutes one afternoon in my basement. Things just seem to make sense to me when I’m writing a song, and I often discover feelings inside of me that I never knew existed.”
Esce said he was grateful for the support he’d received from those around him as he embarked upon this endeavor.
“Everywhere I turned, someone new was offering to help,” he said. “The music department at Liverpool in particular has not only given me the knowledge of music that I need to do what I do, but they continue to support me in every endeavor. I take very little credit for this EP, as none of it would have been possible without the help of my parents (Delia and Joe), sisters (Francesca and Antoinette) and friends, specifically Justin Bertolero who plays bass on the EP with me, and Adi Muhovic, a foreign exchange student from last year who designed all the CD artwork from his home in Prague, Czech Republic.”
“Songs from the Heart” will be available for sale at Sharkey’s on Friday. It is also available on iTunes and Amazon.com. For more information about Joey Esce, visit Facebook.com/JoeyEsceMusic.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.