Joe Stickley
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Joe Stickley

St. Louis, Missouri, United States | INDIE

St. Louis, Missouri, United States | INDIE
Band Folk Acoustic

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"Meet the 2011 Riverfront Times Music Awards Nominees"

Though nominated in the Best Solo Artist (Male) category, Joe Stickley regularly performs as part of a duo with multi-instrumentalist Sean Canan. As the leader of that duo and of Americana outfit Joe Stickley's Blueprint, the St. Louis veteran puts his wry, wiry tenor and graceful touch with a melody to engaging purpose. With Canan, Stickley has been holding down a Sunday residency at McGurk's where the Celtic side to his songs and sound are given free rein. The duo's 2010 release, Loaded to the Gunwhales, presaged that turn toward Irish balladry and anthems. But Stickley's wise, singer-songwriter soul always shines through, no matter what musical geography he explores. (RK) - Riverfront Times Writers


"Meet the 2011 Riverfront Times Music Awards Nominees"

Though nominated in the Best Solo Artist (Male) category, Joe Stickley regularly performs as part of a duo with multi-instrumentalist Sean Canan. As the leader of that duo and of Americana outfit Joe Stickley's Blueprint, the St. Louis veteran puts his wry, wiry tenor and graceful touch with a melody to engaging purpose. With Canan, Stickley has been holding down a Sunday residency at McGurk's where the Celtic side to his songs and sound are given free rein. The duo's 2010 release, Loaded to the Gunwhales, presaged that turn toward Irish balladry and anthems. But Stickley's wise, singer-songwriter soul always shines through, no matter what musical geography he explores. (RK) - Riverfront Times Writers


"Smoke Leaves Town (Review)"

Joe Stickley examines this American life as only a Midwesterner can. Backed by a group that can hold together a rag-tag melody like great Americana bands such as Wilco and The Gourds can, Stickley examines love, loss, and life in subtle, graceful ways.

Smoke Leaves Town sloppily shuffles along at a pace that will make many a Wilco or Grateful Dead fan take heart. It opens with "Davy," a beautiful ode to a dead friend driven along by a wood block beat. He remembers happier days and questions as his departed friend as to what life is like now that he is dead. It ends up more contemplative than depressing.

Stickley thinks the thoughts that we all think about life, but do not know how to eloquently put into words. He questions the meaning of life on numerous tracks, without once becoming maudlin, and searches out the little joys, using isolated experiences as metaphors for the human condition.

His stories are rich and beautiful, but they would be nothing without his music. Sean Canan's mandolin always seems to enter at just the right places, while his guitar ignites "Sittin' by the Fire," which recalls Jack White when he worked with Loretta Lynn. Steven Carrel's banjo makes "Come Down Missouri," while Cindy Woolf's little girl twang duets nicely with Stickley's on "La La Yee," a playful little love song that would fit right in in Woodie Guthrie's catalog.

Without one single weak track, this is quite possibly the best Americana album of the year. At the very least, with his third CD Stickley has established himself as someone to watch in the very near future.
- Atlatanta Music Guide


"Joe Stickley is "Loaded to the Gunwales""

St. Louis Post Dispatch and STLtoday.com Q&A with Joe regarding the release of Loaded to the Gunwales. - STL Today


"Smoke Leaves Town (Review)"

Joe Stickley's Blue Print is a folk-rock band — in that order. The gentle strums of Stickley's acoustic guitar provide the engine for many songs on Smoke Leaves Town, while shuffling drums, quavering fiddle and the reedy wheeze of an accordion add color and depth throughout. There's a bucolic whimsy that breezes through the record; lyrics about big rivers, road trips and mountains ranges plant these songs on the front porch, glass of lemonade in hand. Stickley's high, thin voice doesn't always leave a mark, but on songs such as the opening cut, "Davy," he can make his vocals creak and ache in just the right places. He also modulates his singing to suit a song's style such as the banjo-led lullaby "La La Yee," a duet with Springfield, Missouri-based singer Cindy Woolf that's sweet in a syrupy kind of way. The rock aspect of the band's sound pops up less frequently, though songs like "The Road" employ a rushing rhythm and some electric guitar. A Southern-rock swagger comes through on "Sittin' by the Fire," as a ragged slide guitar and thick organ chords provide a launching pad for Stickley (and his backup singers). It's the best song on this album by some distance, and it proves that the group can put some muscle behind its sound — not just with volume and rock & roll dynamics, but with spirited playing and audible passion. - The Riverfront Times


"Best Songwriter (Winner)"

Dividing his time between Columbia and St. Louis doesn't make Joe Stickley any less our native son. His album, Friendship's Quiet, arrived in 2003 as quietly as its name suggested it might, but it made faithful followers of those lucky enough to nab a copy at a live show or online. Stickley writes simple songs about simple things he loves: his wife, his state, his home. Sometimes the best things are also the least complicated, and Stickley proves this by merging the singer-songwriter influences of James Taylor or John Prine with the more modern pop sphere occupied by the likes of Joseph Arthur and Pete Yorn. He plays a few acoustic shows each year but is just as often backed by a full band, which adds layers of acoustic richness to his songs without complicating them or weighing them down. It is a testament to the quality of his songwriting, which is as close to flawless as a young, unknown Missourian is likely to get. - The Riverfront Times


"Best Songwriter (Winner)"

Dividing his time between Columbia and St. Louis doesn't make Joe Stickley any less our native son. His album, Friendship's Quiet, arrived in 2003 as quietly as its name suggested it might, but it made faithful followers of those lucky enough to nab a copy at a live show or online. Stickley writes simple songs about simple things he loves: his wife, his state, his home. Sometimes the best things are also the least complicated, and Stickley proves this by merging the singer-songwriter influences of James Taylor or John Prine with the more modern pop sphere occupied by the likes of Joseph Arthur and Pete Yorn. He plays a few acoustic shows each year but is just as often backed by a full band, which adds layers of acoustic richness to his songs without complicating them or weighing them down. It is a testament to the quality of his songwriting, which is as close to flawless as a young, unknown Missourian is likely to get. - The Riverfront Times


"Concert Review"

Joe Stickley, Webster alumnus, might have been raised in St. Louis, but he plays music like a boy from the country. The Riverfront Times voted Stickley Best Songwriter in St. Louis in 2005. The RFT describes his music as a merging of new and old, traditional country and folk with modern pop and rock.

Stickley graduated from Webster in 2006 with a master's degree in teaching. He splits his time teaching upper-level math classes at Crossroads College Prep in University City, playing gigs and writing music. His band, Joe Stickley's Blue Print, played to a near-packed house Nov. 22 at the Lucas School House in Soulard.

The mixture of acoustic and electric rock blended well with the candlelight, hard-wood floors and stained glass windows in the renovated church. The music flowed from soft folksy acoustic to intense guitar solos.

Stickley is technically a solo artist. Blue Print is all his own music, but the musicians he plays with a band unto themselves called Bockman. They are a part of Blue Print and also play without Stickley as Bockman. Bockman consists of Wil Reeves on bass and vocals, Sean Canan on guitar and vocals, Danny Carroll on drums and Andrew Weir on keyboards.

Weir's melodica, or snuffalodian as he calls it, gives Blue Print an Appalachian feel. A melodica is basically a combination of a harmonica and an accordion. It's a mini keyboard played by blowing into an attached hose.

This family of sorts released an album in 2003 called "Friendship's Quiet" and their sophomore effort "The Eagle and the Pearl" in 2006. Stickley characterizes their last album as "the soul of an American band and surrogate family."

Stickley said his music falls somewhere between Steve Earl and Lucinda Williams, drawing from traditional roots: folk, country, bluegrass, blues and rock. His influences run from Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell to Pink Floyd and Ian MacKaye of Fugazi, amongst numerous other musicians.

Stickley first picked up a guitar at the age of 10. He joined his first band at 12 as the guitarist and continued to float from band to band, lasting anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years, he said. His musical evolution came in college at the University of Missouri at Columbia when he started writing his own songs.

"The breakthrough came in college when I wrote a song for a girl, who's my wife now," Stickely said. "I was totally ga-ga for her. I thought this (songwriting) could work. After the first song, I started writing on a daily basis."

Once he started writing songs, the big test was singing them. He never trained as a vocalist, he said. Like everyone else, as a kid he sang in the car, along with the radio or in the shower.

"Who else is going to sing (my music)?" Stickley said. "I'm going to sing it."

He recorded demos and had friends listen to them. Their encouragement helped him continue down the path of becoming a singer/songwriter, he said.

"My friends said, 'Is that you? I can't believe that's you,'" Stickley said laughing. "So, it was good enough."
Stickley started performing at open mic nights, but once he started playing with Bockman, they ventured into bigger venues.

He still wasn't used to all eyes being on him while performing and said playing with friends made it more comfortable for him.
"The first time was almost impossible," Stickley said. "I was doing something I was proud of and with the encouragement from friends who knew good music it got easier."

From there, Stickley and Bockman joined forces and Blueprint was born. He said the first album is primarily acoustic, while the second has a harder sound with more electric guitar and drums. Stickley said the third album, which he plans to release spring or summer 2007, will have more concentration on vocals and stripped-down acoustics.

"Folk music - that's what I've been writing lately," Stickley said.

Adam Wilson, Stickley's friend and publicist, said "Friendship's Quiet" is like "a storyteller letting the audience in on his secrets," while "The Eagle and the Pearl" is more self-assured.

"It has a more mature sound with a more aggressive, forceful driving guitar," Wilson said. "Upon first listening it's far much more confident. It's someone proud of what he was letting you know."

While Stickley plans to keep his day job teaching, he said he made a pact with himself to always write and perform. He's currently working on Blue Print's next album and wants to tour nationally. But he doesn't plan on ever leaving St. Louis. Someone would have to drag him away, he said.

"Like Brad Pitt says in 'A River Runs Through It,' I'll never leave St. Louis, brother," Stickley said. - The Journal


"Concert Review"

Joe Stickley, Webster alumnus, might have been raised in St. Louis, but he plays music like a boy from the country. The Riverfront Times voted Stickley Best Songwriter in St. Louis in 2005. The RFT describes his music as a merging of new and old, traditional country and folk with modern pop and rock.

Stickley graduated from Webster in 2006 with a master's degree in teaching. He splits his time teaching upper-level math classes at Crossroads College Prep in University City, playing gigs and writing music. His band, Joe Stickley's Blue Print, played to a near-packed house Nov. 22 at the Lucas School House in Soulard.

The mixture of acoustic and electric rock blended well with the candlelight, hard-wood floors and stained glass windows in the renovated church. The music flowed from soft folksy acoustic to intense guitar solos.

Stickley is technically a solo artist. Blue Print is all his own music, but the musicians he plays with a band unto themselves called Bockman. They are a part of Blue Print and also play without Stickley as Bockman. Bockman consists of Wil Reeves on bass and vocals, Sean Canan on guitar and vocals, Danny Carroll on drums and Andrew Weir on keyboards.

Weir's melodica, or snuffalodian as he calls it, gives Blue Print an Appalachian feel. A melodica is basically a combination of a harmonica and an accordion. It's a mini keyboard played by blowing into an attached hose.

This family of sorts released an album in 2003 called "Friendship's Quiet" and their sophomore effort "The Eagle and the Pearl" in 2006. Stickley characterizes their last album as "the soul of an American band and surrogate family."

Stickley said his music falls somewhere between Steve Earl and Lucinda Williams, drawing from traditional roots: folk, country, bluegrass, blues and rock. His influences run from Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell to Pink Floyd and Ian MacKaye of Fugazi, amongst numerous other musicians.

Stickley first picked up a guitar at the age of 10. He joined his first band at 12 as the guitarist and continued to float from band to band, lasting anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years, he said. His musical evolution came in college at the University of Missouri at Columbia when he started writing his own songs.

"The breakthrough came in college when I wrote a song for a girl, who's my wife now," Stickely said. "I was totally ga-ga for her. I thought this (songwriting) could work. After the first song, I started writing on a daily basis."

Once he started writing songs, the big test was singing them. He never trained as a vocalist, he said. Like everyone else, as a kid he sang in the car, along with the radio or in the shower.

"Who else is going to sing (my music)?" Stickley said. "I'm going to sing it."

He recorded demos and had friends listen to them. Their encouragement helped him continue down the path of becoming a singer/songwriter, he said.

"My friends said, 'Is that you? I can't believe that's you,'" Stickley said laughing. "So, it was good enough."
Stickley started performing at open mic nights, but once he started playing with Bockman, they ventured into bigger venues.

He still wasn't used to all eyes being on him while performing and said playing with friends made it more comfortable for him.
"The first time was almost impossible," Stickley said. "I was doing something I was proud of and with the encouragement from friends who knew good music it got easier."

From there, Stickley and Bockman joined forces and Blueprint was born. He said the first album is primarily acoustic, while the second has a harder sound with more electric guitar and drums. Stickley said the third album, which he plans to release spring or summer 2007, will have more concentration on vocals and stripped-down acoustics.

"Folk music - that's what I've been writing lately," Stickley said.

Adam Wilson, Stickley's friend and publicist, said "Friendship's Quiet" is like "a storyteller letting the audience in on his secrets," while "The Eagle and the Pearl" is more self-assured.

"It has a more mature sound with a more aggressive, forceful driving guitar," Wilson said. "Upon first listening it's far much more confident. It's someone proud of what he was letting you know."

While Stickley plans to keep his day job teaching, he said he made a pact with himself to always write and perform. He's currently working on Blue Print's next album and wants to tour nationally. But he doesn't plan on ever leaving St. Louis. Someone would have to drag him away, he said.

"Like Brad Pitt says in 'A River Runs Through It,' I'll never leave St. Louis, brother," Stickley said. - The Journal


Discography

Joe Stickley's Blue Print, Friendship's Quiet LP (2003)
Joe Stickley's Blue Print, The Eagle and the Pearl LP (2006)
Joe Stickley's Blue Print, Smoke Leaves Town LP (2009)
Joe Stickley & Sean Canan, Loaded to the Gunwales LP (2010)

Photos

Bio

“It is a testament to the quality of his songwriting, which is as close to flawless as a young, unknown Missourian is likely to get."

-The Riverfront Times on Joe Stickley

With creative attention focused on the art of storytelling, Joe Stickley’s Blue Print features a technical foundation of rock and contemporary folk musings arranged with care and attention to detail. The group continues to be characterized by their inflections, their subtle reliance on universal themes, their ability to appeal to the ear attuned to the roots of American music; all join seamlessly to communicate love, loss, and the possibility of redemption -- rendering the listener rapt.

Following the release of Friendship’s Quiet and The Eagle and the Pearl, Stickley has been performing regularly in the Midwest, including opening spots and festivals with the Avett Brothers, Steve Earle, and Del McCoury.

On June 2nd, 2009 Stickley’s Blue Print, which Stickley describes as more of a “surrogate family,” will release their third album, Smoke Leaves Town. The album features the following members: Wil Reeves (bass, vocals), Sean Canan (guitar, vocals), Danny Carroll (drums), Andrew Weir (keyboards), and, of course, Joe Stickley (vocals, guitar).

Stickley’s last album, The Eagle and the Pearl, asked the question: “What is the soul of a man?” Smoke Leaves Town gives the listener eleven new tracks that answer this question with a poetic clarity that suggests there is something infinite at work, as the album lyricizes the central motifs of the river, fire, and the road to explain the human condition.

Stickley’s opening track, “Davy,” remembers a loved relative lost, suggesting that those who have left us cannot be found, but they may find us. In the vein of Wilco and Dylan, “How’s it by You” serves as Stickley’s original tribute to Woody Guthrie, who tragically lost his daughter in a fire. As the album progresses the weather does appear to change.

In “La La Yee,” Stickley crafts a hopeful lullaby that the pain of loss may indeed subside. The track features Springfield, Missouri’s premier twang princess, Cindy Woolf. The album culminates with “The By and By,” a testament to the ability to save ourselves and that life can be lived one cup at a time. The album ends not with a question, but with the resolute hope that only true artists are able to summon.

"I've seen the future up ahead, and the sky looked blue.” And with that, Smoke Leaves Town.