April 22, 2016
Friday night live at Transistor: folk, rock, blues and funk from Adam Stasica, indie pop from Ocean Days, and indie folk from Stephen Chopek. Sound by Jon Monteverde.
Adam Stasica began performing music in the early 2000s. He is rooted in rock and blues and has been part of several bands since 2002. In recent years he began opening as a solo acoustic act for regional bands in the Midwest. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music as well as master’s degree in the arts. Adam also writes original music. He is a dedicated musician and committed to providing the best show possible. Whether strumming along to cover tunes, original music, or on-the-spot improvisation, Adam Stasica aims to please with his well-rounded approach to the guitar. Along with solo work, he plays lead guitar in numerous bands. He is influenced by several styles of music and plays music in the styles of Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jeff Beck, The Beatles, The Band , The Allman Brothers and many more. He is serious about his art. As an experienced guitarist, vocalist and looper, he manages to transform his solo sets of rock, blues and folks into a mind-warping musical carpet that fills every venue with layer upon layer of tantalizing tunes.
Blurring the lines between indie rock, post-rock and alternative, Ocean Days bring a unique and eclectic sound to the table. Playing music and songwriting since the age of 6, Mihailo Ivanovic (guitar and vocals) has been crafting his style of finger-picking, dynamic chord progressions and wide vocal range, including falsetto, for years. Followed by Adam Brade on bass and Brandon Siewert on drums, Ocean Days sounds exactly like the name. For this performance Ocean Days consisted of vocals, electric guitar, bass and drums.
Visit Ocean Days' Soundcloud page.
Six years ago, Stephen Chopek was singing songs in the New York City subways. He treated it like a full-time job, heading out in the morning, picking a spot, and sticking to it. He and his guitar worked seven hour days. He’d pack up, head home, and do it again the next day.
It’s clear when Stephen tells the story that it doesn’t strike him as unusual. He was a professional drummer learning to play guitar and sing. What better way to hone his skills? He refers to his time playing underground as casually as he talks about practicing drums for eight hours a day, or studying with drummer Billy Martin of Medeski Martin & Wood. Stephen is a perennial student, as disciplined as he is curious.
Long before those subway sets, Stephen’s apprenticeship with legendary jazz percussionist Leon Parker led to touring and recording with guitarist Charlie Hunter from 2000 to 2002, which opened the door to a world tour with John Mayer and the recording of Any Given Thursday. He’s kept the beat for Marc Broussard, Jesse Malin, The Alternate Routes, The Pimps of Joytime, Todd Carey, The Everymen, and many others.
Not surprisingly, his stories tend to be about what was learned from every experience. Each tour, each artist, each session is like a prerequisite to the next. With Charlie Hunter, he learned how to live on the road. In The Alternate Routes, he found his voice as a singer. (“Everyone in the band was encouraged to join in on backing vocals,” he says. “That got me interested in singing on my own.”) But it was playing with Jesse Malin where he gained confidence on a new instrument.
“Working with Jesse changed the way I viewed the guitar,” he remembers. “Watching him warm up backstage, I would recognize the chords he was playing. It was like cracking the code on songwriting. Charlie Hunter’s instrument has eight strings, which allows him to play guitar and bass at the same time. I could relate to the music he was making but not to the instrument he was playing. John Mayer wasn’t too different –- his skills were beyond my grasp at the time. Jesse made the guitar more accessible.”
As he explored guitar, Stephen’s listening habits began to change. “I started to hear music from a non-drummer’s perspective, spending time listening to songs with no drums – lots of Billy Bragg and Nick Drake,” Stephen says. “I became interested in beautiful songs for what they were, not just for the parts they were made of.”
In the rotation with longtime favorites like The Replacements, Dinosaur Jr., The Clash, Guided by Voices, and The Pixies, he added contemporary songwriters Jesse Harris, M. Ward, Pete Yorn and Josh Rouse. He also began to trace the roots of rock ‘n’ roll back to Muddy Waters, Louis Jordan, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Buddy Holly. “I realized these artists are the foundations of music that really moves me,” he says. “The energy felt through bands like The Sex Pistols and The Ramones was set in motion generations earlier.”
Stephen’s own songwriting was also taking shape: lyrical ideas jotted down in a journal, chord progressions recorded on a cassette tape, melodies saved in the back of his mind. He started attending open mics, fleshing out ideas for songs from those musical bits and pieces. His album, "See Through,” was recorded and released in the spring of 2012 –- just Stephen and an electric guitar.
Stephen’s songwriting process isn’t far removed from his work as a visual artist: it’s rooted in being able to see the worth in a single element, discovering its future value when juxtaposed with something else. He gathers ideas, words and phrases and puts them to music the way he saves images and clippings to later form them into a work of art, the whole of which is greater than the sum of its parts.
Stephen Chopek was on tour in support of his latest release, “Things Moving On Their Own Together.” He wrote and produced the album, as well as played all the instruments. For his performance at Transistor, Stephen performed the songs in their purest form, with voice and acoustic guitar. This is the method he prefers to introduce his music to new audiences. Stephen feels it is the most direct and honest approach when communicating in an intimate setting.
Visit Stephen Chopek’s website.
Also available: a Stephen Chopek Transistor performance from October 24, 2015.
Find more live performance recordings on our archive page.