Joe Next Door
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Joe Next Door


Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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Open All Night

Label: Independent

If you like: Ben Folds

Song to download: “Weight of the World”

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Songs about working girls, particularly barmaids and waitresses, have long figured prominently in the narrative of pop music. The Looking Glass hit “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” and The Green Pajamas’ “Kim the Waitress” are two memorable examples. These sirens of the service industry continue to enchant songwriters. Michael “Zoo” Zeoli, a local musician who records as Joe Next Door, has constructed an entire concept album about a man in love with a waitress in a 24-hour diner. Open All Night is an operetta of sorts. It’s also a well-executed character study.

Zeoli, a graduate of UNC School of the Arts, spent five years working on the record, controlling every aspect of its production. He wrote all the tracks, played all the instruments (and there are many), sang the lead vocals, and tweaked the knobs on the recording equipment. Chad Morris contributed backing vocals.

The result is a polished collection of piano-guided vignettes about searching. The man in the diner, it seems, is on a spiritual quest. But is his infatuation with the waitress a part of the quest, or is it a diversion?

The story of the waitress is a bit more complicated. Each successive song portrays a promiscuous woman with a troubled past and a wanderlust. Will a connection with her admirer keep her rooted, or does the road once again beckon?

The CD is available at Earshot (formerly The Record Exchange) and Barnes & Noble in Winston-Salem, and at Love That Music in Kernersville.

Bassist Jason Faylen and drummer Lee Adams have joined Zeoli to make Joe Next Door a trio. They are scheduled to perform Friday at 6 p.m. at The Factory, 200 N. Main St., Kernersville. Admission is free. For more information, visit www.joenextdoor

— Craig Rhyne

relish reporter - Relish


Open All Night- Joenextdoor Music- 2010



Zoo started playing piano at age 15 and immediately began writing songs. "I had no idea I had any musical potential as a kid. Turns out I was a talented, and progressed very quickly in developing the technique to play classical music once I started lessons. I was playing Mozart Sonatas, Bach Preludes and Fugues, and Chopin Etudes within a year of starting out." Within 2 years, he was accepted to the North Carolina School of the Arts in piano, where he earned a degree in classical piano performance. Upon leaving college, he turned again to songwriting. "It had always felt natural to compose and write songs, but while I was studying piano at college, there was so little time for anything else." Once out of school, Zoo started building his first studio, with one keyboard, a mic, a little 4 track cassette recorder, and a guitar.

Zoo has few memories of his father, but one of them was of him playing guitar. "I romanticized it in the way kids do, both with their fathers, and also with memories in general. I took some lessons, and studied some books, and of course practiced, and now I feel at home on a guitar, and that is a nice feeling."

Zoo spent the next few years playing guitar and bass in several local bands, most notably Kind of Blue, and began drawing in other musicians to play his original compositions. It was after Joe Next Door's Austin tour that he finally paired up with Jason Faylen, a musical pairing that has worked well. "He plays with his hands a bass he built with his hands, and I play with my hands songs I crafted with my hands, and between us we sculpt the drama and intensity of the songs into vivid shapes much bigger than you'd expect from just two guys, and four hands."

Joe Next Door, in the refined essence of the duo Zoo and Jason, live in the space between songwriter and rock band, effortlessly slipping from intimate moments of classical delicacy to intense soaring walls of sound. They write quirky yet accessible art pop/rock songs, but as a band they happily defy categorization with a wide range of energy swooping well beneath what most solo songwriters can do, and well into the sonic space owned by much larger ensembles.


Jason and music have been inseparable as long as music can remember!

Jason started playing piano around age 6, taking lessons for about 10 years. In high school he also picked up tuba, based on the band director's advice that he was "naturally gifted, and full of hot air!" During his senior year, he started a rock band, in which he played keys and arranged. Over time it became clear that they could not continue passing the bass around the band from song to song, and Jason decided to give it a try. It was quickly apparent that Jason had found his voice in the bass guitar. While he enjoys drumming as an exercise to stretch his bass skills, and dabbles with guitar, bass has been his primary focus for quite some time now.

Jason plays fretless basses he has designed and built through Warmoth guitars online. From time to time you may also catch him with an Ibanez in hand. Jason currently plays through a Fodera preamp pedal, an Eden rack preamp, and Carvin power amps and speakers. Jason also handles live sound and recording for the band. In the very near future we hope that he can also add some vocal harmonies!