By Lisa Morgan
Gene Evaro Jr. was born into music. The Evaro family has been blazing a musical trail from the desert for a few generations now. At only 25, Gene Jr. is the founder of Roaming Sounds Recording Studio, has had songs placed in television and movies, and fronts and writes songs for Gene Jr. & The Family, a band that is highly respected by music peers and fans alike. The band was featured in last year’s AMFM Festival, and will now be performing at the NAMM Show 2015, Jan. 24, after winning a national competition sponsored by the John Lennon Songwriting Contest.
“I found the competition on Sonic Bids (www.sonicbids.com, a website that connects bands, music promoters and major brands through their online platform),” shared Evaro Jr. “I thought it looked like a cool gig, so I sent an EPK (electronic press kit) and submitted two songs with the last $60 bucks I had. I was either going to spend it on food or this. We went on our intuitive instincts and it paid off. Two days later, they contacted us and said, ‘You have some new fans!’ We’ll get to hang on the Lennon Bus which is like a mobile studio. They do recording, editing and everything on there. What’s really rad is it’s a non-profit that goes around teaching kids the music business. That’s something we always thought about doing. So it’s going to be very cool to hang with some likeminded, creative people. The whole process is really about breaking down boundaries and insecurities. It’s so comfortable to say no. There’s nothing to do after that. When you say yes, it takes more work. You start pushing down barriers and opening doors that are right in front of you really. It came down to, do we want the money or the opportunity.”
The NAMM Show competition was open to bands in a wide range of genres including rock, country, jazz, pop, world, R&B, gospel/inspiration, and more. In addition to performing a 40-minute set on the GoPro Stage in the Grand Plaza at the Anaheim Convention Center, the extensive prize package includes a professional video produced by the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, and a music gear package valued at over $9,000.
Founded in 1901, the NAMM Show attracts over 95,000 attendees annually and is dedicated to expanding the market and giving people of all ages the opportunity to experience the proven benefits of making music. If you cannot attend the NAMM Show, Gene Jr. & The Family will be performing their music, free to the public, January 30th at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown.
In early February, the band will be going into Unit A Recording and Arts Studio (www.unit-a-.com), owned and operated by Robbie Waldman, to record their second album. “We’re stoked!” said Evaro Jr. “I have been hoping to get in that studio for a few years. Finally, the timing and the project are both coming together.”
Once the album is recorded, they’ll head out for their spring tour which will include Nashville, Austin, New Orleans, Denver, and many stops along the way. “We’ll be heading through South by Southwest about the time of the festival. We don’t have a date booked yet, but we learned a lot during our last tour. If you just play good music, people will like it, and you can do your thing. It’s simple really. But it can be very humbling going from playing to a ton of people, to playing for just a few people. It’s definitely a lesson, and there’s a lot of work involved – we do everything ourselves. But I’m just sick of NOT doing it. I’m 25 now, and I’m getting older every day. I feel like we gotta do this like, yesterday. It’s just one foot, in front of the other. That is what has lead us this far.”
Gene Evaro Jr. will also be a featured speaker at the inaugural meeting of the Southern California Desert Musicians Alliance. The group is making an effort to network experienced musicians with newer musicians and hopefuls, to share knowledge, information, encouragement and support. Among other music industry specialists, Evaro Jr. will speak on what he knows best – the DIY (Do It Yourself) music business. “I’m more educated on the DIY business end of things – the independent promoter, wearing multiple hats. I’ll be sharing that for one, this isn’t going to be easy. And two, you’re going to have to know how to do EVERYTHING!” As to why he’s volunteering his time to speak, he shares, “I have been blessed with roots in music. I’m surrounded by a lot of music and art. I think when you give a kid, or anybody, the place to discover what they’re good at they’re going to get it together. My parents never forced anything on me I just happened to know exactly what I wanted to do. And I don’t like doing anything else,” he laughed, “other than making food, and hanging out with the people I love.” Even with all that, he shares, “If I had this kind of support system and information – something that helped turn things into a network and less of a competition – I definitely wouldn’t have wasted so much time.”
The more you talk with Gene Evaro Jr., the more you question if you aren’t speaking to an older soul – a gentle, smart, enthusiastic positive soul, but way beyond his years when it comes to his vision of life and how it works. “Growing up with all the super rad people I was born with, you learn a lot. There are a lot of facets that are extremely contemplative in this business. You’re in a playing field of complete reflection. I think that’s why it’s really easy to get drunk and high all the time. It can be overwhelming. Luckily, I’ve tamed that down a lot. I don’t do that so much anymore. It’s easy to grab something to make you more comfortable with it all, especially when you’re naturally introverted. It’s kind of crazy for you to find yourself on a stage in front of 100 people. I don’t even like going down to frickin subway,” he laughed. “It’s weird to say, but in spite of that, I feel the most comfortable on stage – no doubt.”
As far as any words of advice based on what he’s learned so far, Evaro Jr. offered this: “Keep adding new colors to your palette. Keep looking at things differently. Keep creating. Sticking to the same 10 songs and really plugging those may make sense from a marketing standpoint. But if you’re going to play those same 10 songs for a year straight, you’re going to get really sick of them. I have the most fun when I’m experimenting and showing people new songs. I definitely love it when people are singing along; that’s the best. But there’s a healthy balance between the past and the present.” Then he added with a smile, “We at least want to keep it exciting so everybody comes to these rehearsals that nobody’s getting paid for.”
For more information visit their website at www.genejrandthefamily.com and
Don’t forget to see Gene Evaro Jr. and The Family at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneer Town, January 30th @ 8pm