By Taylor Davies
Vinyl Side B is the artist name of Joe LaPree, a 21-year-old Philadelphia-area musician who is trying to make a name for himself as a musical artist and creative for whoever will listen, whilst studying finance at Drexel University. Having been influenced all of his life by artists like Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Tracy Chapman, and Dire Straits, Vinyl Side B is the other side of the coin that takes the experiences and influences Joe has accrued and makes something in homage to the classic works and songs that have gotten him this far. Vinyl Side B is ultimately an attempt at authentic expression.
My musical style is mostly acoustic rock and singer-songwriter but with a little bit of blues in its writing and lyricism. I personally call it “new blues”, and most people tell me I sound like Jeff Buckley. Overall though, it’s my best take on a mix of rock, folk, and blues music that is great for a walk or a long car ride on I-76.
This album is my second project since I started recording my songs in 2019 and is my first true attempt at commercial success. American Wayfarer is an eclectic mix of songs that I had written over a 4-year time span, which I thought were more refined than in my first EP “Sidetracked” in songwriting and structure, execution, and message. I was really trying to showcase my ability as both a musician and a songwriter, picking the songs I had written that I knew had something unique about them and would tell a story together. Ultimately, it’s an album about walking through your mind and the world, seeing the sights that are a part of our experiences, and thinking about them in a beautiful and narrative way.
The name American Wayfarer was thought up in 2018 when I had traveled across the United States and back in a month. I had really seen the beauty of this country in all of its different corners and cities, oftentimes walking on foot for hours just to enjoy the different music scenes and atmospheres in places like Memphis, Chicago, Kansas City, and Denver. After that, and having been inspired by Jack Kerouac, Bob Dylan, and blues music for most of my formative years, I knew I wanted to call my first album American Wayfarer because I thought of my worldview and music as paying homage to those men who walked on foot, saw the world around them, and presented it in a narrative and story-like way.
This album come out during the pandemic, and I must say that for all of the horror that this pandemic has brought in every way, it certainly opened up an opportunity for me to really focus on making my music sound as best as possible given my knowledge and experience so far. Having made some further investments in some higher quality equipment and some cheap soundproofing, I was able to record the songs I had written with much more ease and higher sound quality than I had with “Sidetracked”. Still, my home studio in my basement is not much, but it gets the job done for me and I can use it at my leisure. Making American Wayfarer was much easier than making my first EP “Sidetracked” because the pandemic opened up an opportunity for me to focus on just making music and because I had a much smoother and functional approach this time around.
I am a solo artist and multi-instrumentalist, so every layer of my songs is my own. All of the songs are my own originals and my only collaboration was with an artist named lovETHAN who had helped me in mastering my songs for the production.
My favorite track on the record is “Wrestle on the Floor” because it’s the first song I made that had some real distortion and blues-rock sound to it, which I knew was an element of my sound I would showcase live in a show but hadn’t so far in my recordings or songs. I do love making acoustic-style music as shown with “Space” and “Crystal Balls and Alcohol”; that style is my favorite to perform, but I loved writing and recording “Wrestle on the Floor” because I knew I needed to push myself to write a song that was in line with some of my favorite blues guitarists. I recorded the solo in one take and I felt myself shaking after I had recorded it from start to finish. I live every day for that feeling again.
I hope to achieve, with my music, enough support and recognition to solely live as a live musician and musical artist. My dream, truly and honestly, is that people will hear me play or sing live or on my projects and think “this kid has got something in him”, and continue to support my musical career by listening to the projects or seeing me at a show. I don’t mean to say that I want to sell out MSG before I’m 27, but to be able to play live in venues across the country as a recognized musician and talent, making and collaborating with other artists live and on projects, and embedding myself in a portion of today’s musical history – that is my one true dream. I can promise you that no matter where life takes me, no matter what I am doing, I will never stop making music because it is simply what I love to do the most.