Night On The Town: Shepard The Breeze in Lehigh Valley debut
They call him The Breeze and for Lehigh Valley native Chris Barczynski, his latest project is living up to its name.
“I’m celebrating 25 years as a professional musician,” says Barczynski.
“And I’ve done some amazing things in those 25 years. But this is the best thing that I’ve been a part of. I can’t wait for people to hear it.”
His latest rock group, Shepard The Breeze, performs, 9 p.m. June 21, The Gin Mill, Northampton.
The concert is in support of his latest CD, “Shepard The Breeze.” The group and the album is named after The Breeze and Jay Shepard, with whom he cowrote six of the 11 songs on the CD, with five written by Shepard.
“It’s definitely modern rock, but it’s very steeped in blues and psychedelic rock,” says Barczynski of the album’s and the group’s sound.
“If I had to describe it in terms of other groups, it would be the Black Keys and Stone Temple Pilots thrown into a blender,” Barczynski says with a chuckle.
Barczynski, a Saucon Valley High School, Class of 84, graduate has honed his singing and songwriter as frontman for The Rumblers, One Way Out, Righteous, Citizens Of Contrary Knowledge and, perhaps most notably for Lehigh Valley fans, The Honey Buzzards, and Sweet Brother Rush.
He estimates he’s sold 20,000 independently-produced CDs.
Bands that Barczynski has opened for include Green Day, Collective Soul, Hootie and the Blowfish, Matchbox 20, Sugar Ray, Live, Kansas, Blue Oyster Cult, Todd Rundgren, Jewel, Warren Zevon and The Jerry Garcia Band.
He relocated to New York City in January 2001. He was on NBC-TV’s “Last Call with Carson Daly,” CBS-TV’s “Early Show,” the WB’s “Daily Buzz,” was an Adult Singer Semi-Finalist on CBS-TV’s “Star Search with Arsenio Hall” and a cast member for two seasons on NBC-TV’s “The Singing Bee with Joey Fatone.”
His voice has been heard on Applebee’s and Canadian Club radio ads, on the Pokemon theme songs “Diamond and Pearl” and “Shadow of Darkrai” and Kidzbop CDs.
Barczynski founded the rock band, Citizens Of Contrary Knowledge, in 2005. The band was voted a Top 5 Best Independent Artist 2009 by Internet Radio Magazine, won the 2008 New Jersey Nets “Battle of the Bands” and licensed its music to Showtime Network’s “The Tudors” and Nickelodeon’s “Drake and Josh” and “Zoey 101.”
He’s working on a nonfiction book, “The Chronicles of the Music Man,” a collection of short stories, essays, lyrics and poetry.
Barczynski, who lives in New York City, lived in the San Francisco area for about one year.
The band, Shepard The Breeze includes, in addition to Barczynski, vocals, guitar; Shepard, vocals, guitar; Georgios Pesios, guitar, vocals; Adam James, bass, vocals, and Michael Ostuni, drums, vocals.
Of the CD and the group, he says of himself and Shepard, “We initially got together and wrote the record. And, piece by piece, we added the other guys.”
“Jay [Shepard] and I met at a club that we both played at with different bands, Prohibition, an Upper West Side Club. I saw him playing and I thought, ‘I have to find a way to make music with this guy.’
“It was probably a year before we got together.
“Jay’s a well-known guitar player on the New York scene. He plays at the Iridium [where Les Paul had his residency] with Mark Hudson of the Hudson Brothers.
“The first night we got together at his studio in Upper Harlem, we wrote the first song on the album.” The song is ”Waiting On A Sign.”
“Between his touring and my touring, we kind of recorded piecemiel. We were sometimes up all night. We’d complete a song, played all the instruments, did all backing vocals.”
The duo programmed the drums and went to another studio in Tribeca to record drums with Keith Foley. “He was a tremendous help in getting the album together.” Foley is Executive Producer of the CD.
“And then we worked with J.P. Bowersock, a tremendous guitarist, who worked with The Strokes and Ryan Adams. So, he mixed the album with Jay and myself.” Bowersock, Barczynski and Shepard are Producers of the CD.
The Gin Mill concert is the fifth for Shepard The Breeze, which has played at Coney Island Baby, Manhattan, Mercury Lounge, and Bowery Electric, all in New York City.
The band also played in Reykjavík, Iceland, of all places. Explains Barczynski:
“While on vacation in Barcelona with my girlfriend, I met a couple from Sweden. It turns out he was Swedish ambassador to Iceland.
“He listened to my music and invited the band to perform at the embassy.” The band also played at two clubs in Reykjavík.
“We now have a loyal fan base there. It’s pretty amazing. We’re planning to go back. We’re planning a European tour. We’re going to go to Spain.”
Meanwhile, catch Shepard The Breeze at The Gin Mill, Northampton.
“People still come out and see me,” Barczynski, who has played solo at The Shanty on 19th, Allentown. “They remember the Honey Buzzards.”
Shepard The Breeze, 9 p.m. June 21, The Gin Mille & Grille, 1750 Main St., Northampton. 610-262-5486
“Night on the Town” is a column about popular music. Information: firstname.lastname@example.org