While millions tuned in to NBC stations across the country to watch the Season Finale of the Voice, there’s a local group drawing plenty of attention here in Central Illinois. And, the lead singer of that band has a story that would make for a pretty compelling song, in and of itself.
With the new release of his latest CD, and an edgy music video for the feature track, “Dandelion Woman,” Joe Stamm is keeping busy. When he’s not writing or recording new music, he’s performing at venues all over Central Illinois and beyond.
From opening for Country Music Star Easton Corbin at Washington Five Points, to playing before a packed crowd at Crusens in Peoria, the Metamora native is seemingly everywhere on the local music scene, much to the delight of his growing fan base.
It just makes me want to dance, I just love it!” exclaims fans Katie and Bridget Bill.
“He’s got a really great voice, and besides his musical performances being on point, he’s got a really good presence, you know?” shares fellow fan Chris Duncan.
While fans’ loyalty is certainly a testament to his talent, it’s also a result of a lot of hard work. Joe plays 2 to 5 shows a week. In 2018 alone he will have played around 150 shows.
But despite the occasional brush with music this early picture implies.. his singing and songwriting didn’t start till much later. Long before the bright lights of the stage, Joe gained attention under the Friday night lights of Metamora High School’s football field.
“Joe worked extremely hard. And he was very passionate. Joe is the kind of guy that whatever he’s going to get into, the throttle is always open,” recalls Joe’s former high school football coach, Pat Ryan.
A talented quarterback, Joe lead his team to back-to-back state appearances in 1999 and 2000. He accepted a full ride to Northern Illinois University to play football, when he was sidelined by an injury.
“I was a quarterback and had a bad shoulder. I went to college and the doctors and the trainers told me after a year of trying to rehab it and a few surgeries it just wasn’t going to happen anymore,” Joe recalls.
Still, he refused to give up the game completely, transferring to Taylor University in Indiana so he could continue playing, this time in a defensive position. Sadly, the injury again proved to be too much. But that prompted him to pick up a new challenge.
“In order to graduate college I had to take a music course so I took ‘Intro to Guitar,’ and really barely knew how to play a couple chords, but I wrote my first song. It was called 8 ball and it was legitimately about pool, about sinking the 8 ball too soon, and it was horrible, it was terrible,” he admits with a hearty laugh.
But he had natural talent, and wasn’t afraid of the limelight, even hopping on stage for a talent show his senior year at Taylor, singing Lynard Skynard’s “Free Bird.”
“Was I surprised about him going into music? Seriously not because it’s my son, the kid was born with a skill set. He can write, draw, he can paint, he can do athletics, he can sing,” his mom Susan Hovey proudly proclaims.
“Whatever he does, whatever he takes up, he gives it 100 percent, whether it’s sports, music, doesn’t matter what it is,” shares his equally proud Dad Jim Stamm.
For Joe, it was all about the song writing.
“I love good stories. I like telling good stories, creating good stories, and I think that’s what the drive is for me,” he explains.
Over the years Joe continued playing shows, till 2016 he took a leap of faith and decided to quit his day job and pursue a music career full time.
“It was there for years, like man how great would it be to do this? But I think the reality of it hit me, that maybe I could make a run at this,” he recalls.
It was around this time that the remaining members of the Joe Stamm Band came into the picture. They don’t just add complexity to Joe’s lyrics, they bring plenty of camaraderie and laughter to the stage. But it’s not just fun and games. The band practices weekly. All the while Joe stays busy behind the scenes, especially on social media.. interacting with fans. From funny pictures featuring his pets and sense of humor, to album launches.. or even their weekly FaceBook Live segments, “Guitar of the Week.”
And it’s all starting to pay off. The song “First Saw You,” a duet Joe recorded with female artist Tasji Bachman, made Apple Music’s Breaking Country Playlist. His downloads continue to only go up on other platforms, including Spotify. And the band is now booking shows a year in advance, not just here, but more and more out of state, from Iowa to Alabama.
The sky seems to be the limit for this Central Illinois boy and his band, with their names destined to appear in bigger and brighter marquees. For now, though, Joe says he’s just happy to doing something he loves.
“If the radio never plays my songs that’s okay. As long as I can maintain and grown an audience and again do it well enough that I can keep the lights on and pay my bills, that’s making it.”
For more, check them out on their website: https://www.joestammband.com/
And on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joestammband/
WEB EXTRA: Q and A with Joe Stamm:
Q: How many nights do you typically play?
Joe: “Anywhere from 2-5 nights a week, typically. In 2018, I will have played about 150 shows.”
Q: Have you had songs played on the radio? Which ones?
Joe: “Technically yes, several; but not much has been in regular rotation anywhere. The one exception is “First Saw You,” which made Apple Music’s “Breaking Country” Playlist and is in rotation at FM95 out of Galesburg.”
Q: What’s the biggest show you’ve played?
Joe: “We played I front of about 10,000 people this past summer at the ABATE Freedom Rally in Iowa, opening for Jamey Johnson.That was the biggest audience, and probably the most memorable performance, we’ve been apart of.”
Q: How many other bands have you been in?
Joe: “Just the one – Joe Stamm & the 26ers for just under a year before a couple guys left the group and I transitioned into the Joe Stamm Band. That was in 2013.”
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge for you as a musician?
Joe: “The greatest challenge is the creative grind. It is easy to get in certain patterns or ruts, and that is with every facet of the creative process – songwriting, merch designs, even social media content. When we finish up a big project, like Dandelion Woman, for example, we’ve just put together a package of music, videos, branding, merch, social media engagement, etc. Then, just like that, it’s all done and released. And I have to start mustering the energy to begin from scratch with new music, new video ideas for some of that music, new art work, branding, and so on. And while you want your work to have a cohesive thread that runs through it all, you also want it to be different/innovative/fresh. Most of all, at the very least, you want it to be better – better than anything you’ve done before. That can be very intimidating.”
Q: Have you ever tried out for one of those reality music shows, or at least considered it?
Joe: “No, I really never have. I just don’t like contest formats. Music is not about competition. I think if I put myself in that type of environment, music would turn into something very different for me, and not in a positive way. That’s just not the type of energy I want to be around anymore. Plus, if you win one of those contests, you relinquish control over your career and you’re identity as a musician will always be linked to that contest, i.e. “ Featuring Joe Stamm, contestant on The Voice.” The only potentially appealing thing about those contests is the money and the quick, canned fame that would come with it. But those come at a price I’m not sure I’m comfortable paying.”
Q: What has the fan reaction and interaction been like with the Dandelion Woman release been like? –
Joe: “Overwhelmingly positive. Every time we’ve released a new song or project, we’ve seen this thing – and our fanbase – grow. Sometimes it can be a little surreal, thinking to yourself, “People actually like what we’re doing…the music we’re making.” It’s such an honor.”
Q: Finally, if you “made it big,” could you see yourself leaving Central Illinois? If so, where?
Joe: “I think if I ever “made it big,” I would probably have to spend a lot more time in one or several of our major music hubs, like Nashville or Austin, where taking up residence could become most practical. But I assume that if I found myself in such a position, it would be financially viable to afford more than one residence; and in that case, I can’t imagine not maintaining a central Illinois address and spending as much time as possible in this area. It is truly home and where I feel most comfortable. It is also the setting from which I gain most of my inspiration as an artist.”