Stuckey overcomes adversity in music career
The Joey Stuckey Trio performed at Amici on Friday, Apr. 5 to celebrate Joey Stuckey’s newest album, “In The Shadow Of The Sun.”
This is Stuckey’s 11th studio-released album, but it’s the first one recorded outside of his recording studio, Shadow Sound, in Macon.
Stuckey, a musician, music producer and teacher, was left blind after doctors removed a brain tumor when he was two years old. However, this never held him back from creating music. When Stuckey was a teenager and decided to pursue music, he knew he wanted to own his own studio.
“Arranging transportation is kind of tricky as a blind person,” Stuckey said. “I knew that what I needed to do was find a job where people come to me. Owning a studio made that work.”
For “In The Shadow OfThe Sun,” however, Stuckey paid for studio recording time, something he’d never done before. The album was recorded in Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, where many famous artists, like Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, have recorded.
“They’re still using technology from the ‘50s and ‘60s, so there’s no magic fix,” Stuckey said. “If you mess up you have to start over.”
Stuckey explained that this vintage recording adds to the album’s appeal. It includes tracks recorded in mono and stereo, so listeners can hear the difference between the two. Stereo is more of a well-rounded
sound, while mono emphasizes drums, bass and vocals.
“The reason for [songs in mono] is because in the ‘50s and ‘60s, all of the recording were in mono,” Stuckey said. “I thought that it would be kind of cool if these songs were done in mono.”
Even though Stuckey typically records and writes his music by himself, for this album, he and his band recorded in Sun Studio for three hours in tight quarters.
Together, they created the basic tracks for vocals, guitar, drums and bass, and later they went to Stuckey’s house to complete the album. “In my studio, we’re in different rooms,” Stuckey said. “There’s a chemistry that happens when you’re all in the same room and vibing together—something that happens."
This album also holds significant meaning for Stuckey. He wrote “Ain’t It Good To Be In Love,” with his late friend, Charlie Hoskins. Hoskins passed away due to cancer in 2017, but Stuckey said he keeps his music alive through this song. Stuckey and Hoskins recorded an album together, which Stuckey hopes to release soon.
Due to health problems and his recording studio, Stuckey and his trio had to take a break from touring. However, with “In The Shadow Of The Sun,” they hope to acquaint themselves with life on the road. “We’re re-dedicating ourselves to my music and my records,” Stuckey said. “I’ll be in Chicago by myself on a short tour, and I’ll be in Indiana in May.
In June, [the Joey Stuckey Trio] are going to be in New York, Boston and Washington DC. I’ll be speaking at Berkley in June, and July we’ll be in the UK.”
When it comes to touring and recording, Stuckey has two important philosophies: Joey Stuckey is a drama-free zone, and every day in the music business is a good day. Stuckey said he also believes that it’s important to have a plan, but to also sometimes take a leap of faith.
“There’s a quasi-Buddhist phrase I’ve stolen,” Stuckey said. ‘“Leap and the net will appear.’ That doesn’t mean one does not plan. But at the same time, fate and playing together are a winning combina- tion. That’s a lot of what we’re about. And the other part is being joyful to be alive and having fun.”
Stuckey also applies this philosophy to the music business, which can be challenging for musicians. With so many artists, it can be difficult to get noticed. However, the Joey Stuckey Trio has been working hard for years to achieve its professional skill level.
Stuckey said he believes that music is the best way for positive change.
“Artists in general are really important,” Stuckey said. “Our goal is to share the universe through a different perspective and open up peoples’ minds to new ideas, but also record the history—to remind people where we’ve been. I think art is crucial for any society to be healthy.”
Despite his health challenges, Stuckey always has a positive outlook on life and a sarcastic sense of humor. He and his bandmates play practical jokes on each other on tour.
“I love sarcasm, I love ironies,” Stuckey said. “I have a bit of gallows humor. You kind of have to have it to survive when you have a lot of health challenges. It’s a defensive mechanism—it has to be.”
Stuckey wants others to understand that, even though he is blind and faces other health problems, he is living the life he wants to live with intention and feels successful while doing so.
Rachel Gambill, who works for Macon government public relations, is also Stuckey’s friend and helps him manage his social media.
“He pours his heart and soul into everything he does, and this [‘In The Shadow Of The Sun’] is another example of that,” Gambill said. “He has a very powerful voice. That’s what makes him shine, his ability to sing so powerfully while playing guitar.”
At his album release party, Stuckey played a mix of new and old songs, along with some cover songs, like Prince’s “Little Red Corvette.” Stuckey said he enjoys playing in Milledgeville because of his fan base and the cooperation of venues like Amici.
Wally Stubbs, a Milledgeville resident, said he recently discovered Stuckey’s music through a friend. He said he enjoyed the album release party and is now a new, loyal fan.
“I love watching him just as much as I love hearing it,” Stubbs said. “I love seeing people really playing it. If Joey’s gonna be here, I’ll be here.”
Photo by Alex Bradley | Staff Photographer