Justin Shapiro
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Justin Shapiro

West Palm Beach, Florida, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2007 | AFM

West Palm Beach, Florida, United States | AFM
Established on Jan, 2007
Solo Rock Folk

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"monoblogue music: “Campfire Party” by Justin Shapiro"

Everyone has a musical sweet spot, and great albums will gravitate toward it.

It took me listening through a nice, country-flavored opening track called Lost In Time for Justin Shapiro to find mine. There’s something about Mr. Bluebird that brings me back to the great southern rock bands of my youth like The Allman Brothers or Lynard Skynard. Justin proves that particular vibe is still viable four decades later with that song.

Even better is the sense of humor Shapiro exhibits on the next track, Tyrannosaurus Rex, which also features a catchy chorus and bridge.

Let me say this, though: out of an album of 11 tracks, it’s a bit unfortunate that Justin selected one of the weaker songs as his opening single. Brighter Days isn’t a bad song by any estimation, but I didn’t find it as representative of his work. Luckily, it rolls into the great hard-rocking track Inspiration Nation. (Now that’s a song worth putting out there so people can blare it from their speakers. Kids who shake their cars with the thump of unrecognizable rap music don’t know what they are missing.)

Another great message song follows this up, the slower and rather seductive Forgive & Forgotten. Somehow I can see that one being extended into a ten-minute jam in some club somewhere, the girls swaying up front and the guys standing in the back enjoying the jam. (Shapiro did this with a three-piece band – perfect for clubs.) That same groove inhabits the (lengthy) next song, My Own Way, although the brief bridge toward the end in that one is a bit unusual and doesn’t quite fit – but the fade works very well.

For the first couple bars of If You Wanna Wake Up! you may debate whether it would perform better on the country or pop charts, but it quickly settles into another straight-ahead rock winner. By the same token, the opening of Human Hurricane defines that song as it has a nice bass line throughout. (It’s the one you may not be able to play at work because there’s an f-word in the chorus.)

If you like the ballads, the end of the album is your best bet: Stand is a tribute to Justin’s father, while the title track closes the album with that same country flavor the album started with. Campfire Party closes out the album and it’s the same type of song that he could close a show with – there is a sort of finality to it that means he put the song in its proper place. Justin had the good sense to only co-produce this effort, which cut down on the excesses which often occur when an album is self-produced.

Since I listen to the album before I read the bio, I didn’t know that Justin and his band hail from and play around the Washington, D.C. area, so there’s a decent chance he may bring his band over this way to share a campfire party of their own. I would encourage you to check out his website as well.

As I said up top, this is one that hit my sweet spot. Don’t be surprised to find this one in my end-of-year top 5. - Monoblogue


"Album | Justin Shapiro – Campfire Party"

As listeners, we are all too prone to consider any new artist who pops up on our iTunes hub as an overnight success story. Little do some know, though, that most of these folks have been putting in their dues for years—sometimes even decades—to be heard by a broader audience. DC native Justin Shapiro is one such individual who has been honing his homegrown blend of folk-rock in for the past ten years, awaiting the moment when he could gather together a great band and release a bonafide debut album for the world to hear. With his Campfire Party, it’s finally his time to shine.

It isn’t often that album titles mesh so palpably with the songs that decorate their halls. More often than not, they seem to be either flippantly designed by a careless mainstream label or represent more of a flashy or abstract overall idea. Here, what you see ends up becoming what you hear as Shapiro and his band warmly envelope you in a series of whiskey-toned Americana tunes that feel exactly like what the cover is selling. Shapiro’s inviting us to his own campfire party for a heaping helping of soul, and the vigor with which he sells it all is, on the overall, impressive.

For a first-time effort, it doesn’t reinvent the wheel and it doesn’t have to. Giving it an ear, there are obvious signs of where to improve with Shapiro’s coming works. He’s intent on giving us a blues-laden record complete with all of the trimmings, but it’s in his sweeter efforts like ‘Stand’ and ‘My Own Way’ where he really seems to separate himself from the pack. They feel more like a deeper window into Shapiro’s own soul, and on the overall, they inflect the album with an overall spirit that keeps it from sidling into mediocrity.

There’s much to celebrate here, too, though. It’s been a long time coming for Shapiro to be able to release these songs, and hopefully, it won’t be as long before he can turn out another collection for us to lend an ear to. By then, he should be able to present a more concise catalog of tunes to the table, but getting us out by the campfire to party it on with him and the band isn’t such a bad idea for a first step into the world of studio LPs either. On the overall, it’s a heartening piece of work with a stellar band backing Shapiro up, well worth at least a listen. - For Folk's Sake


"monoblogue music: 2018's Top 5"

Once again, for at least the third year in a row, I was disappointed that I had fewer than 20 records to review – that in spite of adding a few unsolicited contenders for the prize, one of which is represented on this list (and another that just missed it.) Thanks to those two I had a couple extra contenders because otherwise my top 5 would have been sort of “meh.”

So after going back through all my 2018 reviews and reminding myself why I liked these albums, here are your top 5 for this year.


5. Maxwell James (self-titled)

Original review: July 14.

This debut straddles lines between several genres despite its short length – it’s a five-song EP. Taking elements away from classic country, blues, and alternative rock, Maxwell James puts them together in something that was a pleasure to listen to. Unlike a lot of other artists who give us too much filler to pad out an overly long effort, Maxwell makes you wish there were a couple more on the CD. It leaves a listener wondering which direction James will decide to go as his career advances.


4. “Buffalo Hotel” by Geoff Gibbons

Original review: January 27.

Gibbons presented the image of a rough-and-tumble Western-style artist based on the cover of this one, but it turned out he was rather far from the “hat band” style of country that’s dominated the charts over the last couple decades. Instead, he reaches back to a bygone time when country music wasn’t rock music played with different instruments, and when there is the rock influence it’s done with a light touch. It’s worth listening to for the stories that are told.


3. “Electric Bouquet” by Peak

Original review: December 16.

If you look at the album cover hard enough, you’ll figure out that it indeed is an electric bouquet. If you listen to the album long enough, you’ll wonder why these guys aren’t raking in millions on a record deal and tour. They certainly have the musical chops to do so – perhaps they have more talent than the market will allow.

This was one of the three “filler” albums I closed out my year with, and by a pretty good margin it was the best of the three. I’ll be interested to see what this group that intersects funk and rock will do with their next release.


2. “Isolated Thunderstorms” by Jared Weiss

Original review: August 18.

There’s no doubt that Jared can sing, since he’s a performer on the musical theater circuit. But this album became a winner because Weiss can also write very compelling songs that range the gamut from acoustic ballads to active prog rockers like my favorite song of all those I reviewed this year that comes from this album, Elusive Particle.

Another thing that set Jared apart from the rest was the sense of humor he has in his lyrics, a trait long-ago balladeers like Harry Chapin or Jim Croce could also pull off (and sell a truckload of singles in the process.) The music industry has changed since then, but good writing will still sell eventually.


1. “Campfire Party” by Justin Shapiro

Original review: June 9.

This was actually a very close competition between 1 and 2, but what pushed Shapiro over the line first was the multitude of well-written songs set with a backdrop of clear Southern rock influence – something that for me is really tough to beat having grown up and listened to Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers as they gave way to the heavier takes on the genre presented by Molly Hatchet, Blackfoot, Jackyl, and others.

As I said in the original review, this one hit my sweet spot and try as he might, Weiss couldn’t dislodge it nor could anyone else. Not only did it end up in my top 5, but “Campfire Party” finished as the top one.

I should add that a couple albums from 2018 deserve an honorable mention as they were also contenders for these spots: “Inward” by Ghostly Beard (reviewed the week before Shapiro in June) and last week’s offering “Past” by Kate Coleman were also seriously considered for this list. It’s also unfortunate that Paul Maged didn’t finish his trilogy this year because that would certainly be in contention for a position – but I want to judge it as a whole despite the fact it will be released in three different calendar years.

Next week (or perhaps January 12, depending on how long the research goes) I’ll revisit these and my previous listed artists – at least those who are still around and making music – and see how they’re doing.

In the meantime, go check these folks out if you like good music! - monoblogue


"Now Hear This: Campfire Party - Justin Shapiro"

Washington DC native, Justin Shapiro has been kicking around his local scene for 10+ years now. Playing in cover bands, writing originals, and putting all together to eventually record an album of his own.

In 2009 he met Rich Cairns and together they formed the band Green River Junction and that project made music together for several years before Cairns bounced to North Carolina and the band ended shortly thereafter.

2018 is here and so is Shapiro's debut solo offering entitled "Campfire Party" which figures to be a mix of new and old ranging from a myriad of influences ranging from Pearl Jam to Paul Simon.
So is it any good? I'll be the judge, jury, and executioner. Just kidding about the executioner part...or am I?

Listen to "Brighter Days" on Soundcloud here:


"Lost in Time" starts us off with a nice acoustic groove. The vocals come in and I'm immediately thinking about They Might Be Giants. This is a good tune, that doesn't take itself too seriously. Solid starter. Track two is "Mr. Bluebird" and the TMBG influence remains true. Maybe even more so than the first track. Shapiro definitely has a vibe. "Tyrannosaurus Rex" is a hilarious track about weed and dinosaurs. "Brighter Days" is next and it's a slower and more serious track. I like this sound for him. He's showing some versatility here. "Inspiration Nation" has a garage rock sound and is probably the heaviest track on the whole album. "Forgive & Forgotten" is a blues-ey number that shows yet another side of Shapiro. One that I can see in a smoky nightclub as opposed to the cafe sound of the first few songs. "My Own Way" and "If You Wanna Wake Up!" are both solid if unspectacular tunes that continue building on the sound that Shapiro has developed. "Human Hurricane" starts with a rad bassline and gives us the trademark humorous and clever lyrical content that I've grown to appreciate about this album. "Stand" is a pretty guitar-driven track about growing up and the relationship between a father and his parents. Really nice arrangement here. The LP ends on the title track "Campfire Party" and it's a slower number. This one brings a little country energy to it. It's a nice way for the album to end. Makes me wanna cook some smores.



This album took awhile to come about but it was worth the wait. Justin Shapiro has such a likable quality and it really comes through his music. If you're into TMBG, Dave Matthews Band, or Bob Dylan, you're gonna find this very appealing. Strongly recommended. - Now Hear This


"Justin Shapiro Rocks, Jams and Nurtures the Soul On New Album, Campfire Party Now Available"

Over the previous decade-plus, Justin Shapiro has been an active participant of the DMV music scene. Starting his path in cover bands playing tunes from Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Neil Young, Justin was also stashing away original material for his own songwriting catalog.

Back in 2009, Shapiro was a member of Green River Junction which originally formed as a guitar/percussion duo before evolving into a core trio that featured other musicians from time to time. When a long distance move by one of the members left the band without it’s former potent chemistry, Green River Junction faded into black.

Now Justin is here with his debut solo album, Campfire Party, which has been a pursuit of passion, patience and persistence. You can still find Shapiro in the DMV performing and pleasing crowds with his seamless blend of jam band-esque vibes, acoustic rock, folk, blues and a healthy dose of 90’s grunge.

For those who like comparisons, think Ben Harper jamming with Pearl Jam as Bob Dylan leads the pack. Justin’s sonic appeal and his lyrical content reflect the depth, themes and organic rawness of what drew us to these more widely-known acts.

Justin Shapiro’s music is honest, authentic and soul nurturing.

The eleven tracks on Campfire Party represent approximately ten years of Justin’s experiences and songwriting sprinkled with a whole lotta heart, a whole lotta soul, and an excellent playlist of sweet sounding jams that will have you noddin’, tappin’, groovin’ and jammin’ along with your air guitar. Fast forward to the soaring guitar solo at the end of If You Wanna Wake Up and you’ll know exactly what I mean - Middle Tennessee Music


"Justin Shapiro's debut solo album, 'Campfire Party' explores electric washes of country-bent blues"

Hailing from the DC area, rock/folk artist Justin Shapiro has participated in the local music scene since 2007. He started out enlisting his chops with local cover bands, playing songs by such greats as Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and Paul Simon. In the meantime, Shapiro began building his catalog of original material and his own covers.

In 2009, with the help of percussionist and drummer Rich Cairns, together the two would form Green River Junction. In addition, the guitar/percussion duo would recruit the help of Shapiro’s close friend Derick Wiggins on bass, but eventually, the group soon fizzled out once Cairns moved to North Carolina with his family.

Finally, Shapiro is ready to unleash his debut solo album, Campfire Party, the material to which has spanned 10+ years in the making. These are songs about love, songs that touch base with the political times to songs that speak directly to the heart. Shapiro’s love for grunge, acoustic music, folk, blues, and funk has brought us this collection of songs that are deliberate with a big soulful vibe.

The album opens up with “Lost In Time” that starts off with some banging rhythms on the electric guitar, bass, and drums. Shapiro sings with a country-twang to his vocals as the electric guitar gives off some highly melodic riffs. The singer-songwriter belts out the lyrics with gusto about being so in love you’re ‘lost in time’ and about spending time with that special someone. The track gives off a great Americana folk rock twist with some big bluesy flavor. The electric guitar solo sounds off mid-way into the track.

On “Mr. Bluebird,” the big bustling energy coming from the drums is elicited through a fast rhythmic pulse. Dancing guitar melodies go on to pave the song. The nostalgic track pays ode to a bluebird as memories of the ole countryside replays itself. Shapiro sings with fiery energy as some psychedelic guitar riffs sound off half-way into the song.

“Tyrannosaurus Rex” has a big revving vibe on this Americana folk, country-bent track. The song has a more stripped down feel with just drums and electric guitar accompanying Shapiro’s vocals. Shapiro spews out his vocals in speedy duress, nearly “rapping” in the track. A pithy of energy could be detected from the electric guitar solo near the end of the song.

“Brighter Days” sounds off with the cadences of the acoustic guitar that paves the start of this track. The acoustic music alone supports Shapiro’s vocals. The sparse arrangement is simply rendered. The track is tinged with regret and longing and is about moving on and about learning how to let go of the past, no matter how hard and traumatic it may be. The song starts to pick up later on with a more upbeat sound as the percussions later join in, giving off an altogether more energized vibe.

“Inspiration Nation” starts off with an amped feel coming from the busy wall of guitars and insanely fast drums, eliciting a big bustling variety with a great booming sound. This is great classic rock fare filled with political commentary as Shapiro acquiesces us listeners with the social standpoint of the times. This track contains a happening performance and a great jam-session from the band.


“Forgive & Forgotten” has a grunge rock feel to it with a nitty-gritty blues feel to the song. The track is filled with an overall dark vibe and is about being addicted to all the wrong things and how that can lead to an unsavory demise. Some psychedelic electric guitar riffs trace this song.

The album slows down on this slower striding ballad, “My Own Way.” The track is filled with dramatic and immediate sounds from the Shapiro’s vocals that are executed in a hushed sensibility and the cadences of the melodic keys, electric guitar, bass, and drums. The song is about forging your own path and finding your own way in life.

“If You Wanna Wake Up!” consists of an upbeat and catchy vibe with a great Americana sound on this uplifting track filled with a positive message. About taking the initiative and taking control of your life, the free-spirited track entertains with energized rhythms from drums, bass, and guitars.

“Hurricane Human” starts off with the sound of rhythms reverberating on the bassline. Next, the cadences of drums, percussions, and electric guitar sidle in. About a girl with a really dynamic style, who he can’t get out of his mind, the song loosens up with real kicking vibe and rhythms.

On the acoustic rendition of “Stand,” Shapiro’s vocals is solely accompanied by the acoustic guitar on this emotional track filled with a heart-warming vibe. The song is about the different perspectives of his loved ones and how they’ve always understood and stood by him.

“Campfire Party” begins with the sounds of the acoustic guitar with some percussions interwoven in as gradually the cadences of the drums draws the attention of the listener. This dynamic ballad is about sharing your experiences, dancing together, and combining your voices together as you relish in on the love. This is a heart-felt country-blues anthem that will fill your soul with warmth from its uplifting and positive grooves.



Justin Shapiro forges his own path with these distinctly rendered songs filled with the rock/folk artist’s unique and signature sound.

Fueled with passion, this is music burning to be heard, as the subject matters encompass the scope of love, loss, regret, social commentary and even, dinosaurs.

Fast revving guitars, insane drums, and out of this world rhythms on the bass makes Shapiro’s sound one that is entirely his own.

The moving sounds on this 11-track compilation feels like home as they encompass a soulful and heart-warming vibe that will be a shame to miss.

Be sure you have a listen on Spotify today! - Stars and Celebs


"Audible Review: Justin Shapiro Exhibits A Range Of Style With “Campfire Party”"

On May 18th, Justin Shapiro released his debut solo album, Campfire Party, after a decade’s worth of work. Since 2007, the DC native has contributed his talents to the music scene. Starting with playing music with local cover bands, Shapiro began to work on his own music, leading to the creation of his first album.

In 2009, Shapiro moved from playing with local bands to starting his own. After meeting Rich Cairns, percussionist and drummer, the band Green River Junction was formed. The duo played throughout DC and Baltimore. Deciding to grow the band, Derick Wiggin’s, Shapiro’s long-time friend, joined Green River Junction on bass. Every once in a while, the now trio allowed various companions to join in on electric guitar. Unfortunately, the days of Green River Junction eventually came to an end after Cairn moved away, taking part of the band’s spirit with him.

Nonetheless, Shapiro saw this bump in the road as an opportunity to pursue his solo career. His album, however, was not completed entirely by himself. Derick Wiggins continued to backup Shapiro on bass and guitar, while Shapiro took the lead on guitar and vocals. His voice and strums of the guitar are accentuated by Dave Chaeltzky on drums.

Shapiro’s album stemmed from the many musical influences in his life. Artists such as Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band, O.A.R., Ben Harper, and Bob Dylan have all positively impacted Shapiro during his musical career and the creation of Campfire Party. His love of various music genres ranging from 90’s grunge, blues, acoustic rock, to many more, contribute to Shapiro’s own personal sound.

Campfire Party consists of 11 tracks that cover several themes. Passion and soul are emanated through Shapiro’s voice, radiating a heartwarming vibe. Topics such as love, loss, triumph, and social & political awareness are all displayed through thought out lyrics. Shapiro even takes to energetically attributing dinosaurs in his song “Tyrannosaurus Rex”.

The album flows between various types of genres, showing Shapiro’s capability of playing multiple styles of music. In some tracks, he even manages to shift between sounds in the span of one song.

With Campfire Party, Shapiro has proved originality and his potential to thrive as artist. The album can even be seen as a representation of who Shapiro is, both as an artist and as a human being. Especially with his tracks “My Own Way”, “Stand”, and “Campfire Party”.

Shapiro’s album delivers exactly what you’d expect from the title: songs you can play with your friends around a campfire. We’re excited to see the growth of Shapiro as an artist, and the development of a more unique and signature sound that screams “SHAPIRO”. Keep up the great work!

You can stream Campfire Party via Spotify or Soundcloud. Make sure to share Shapiro’s musical talents with all of your friends! - Audible Addixion


Discography

AWAY IN YOUR DREAMS - 5/1/20

CAMPFIRE PARTY

JUSTIN SHAPIRO: LIVE AT THE 9:30 CLUB EP

Photos

Bio

When you go to a Justin Shapiro show, prepare to have a good time as you bounce around to his energetic, groove driven rhythms and signature percussive guitar.  A Bethesda, MD native, Shapiro came onto the DC-area music scene in 2007 developing his sound, fine tuning it, while playing in local bars and venues around the area with his band Green River Junction.  Now based in sunny West Palm Beach, Florida, Shapiro has a renewed energy and perspective on his new album, Away In Your Dreams, the follow up to 2018’s Campfire Party, which saw him receive praise from outlets such as DCist who called out the album for its “…laid-back, feel-good vibe…,” DC Music Rocks who described Shapiro as “… a singer-songwriter who takes his love for 90's grunge, acoustic rock, folk, blues, funk, and jam bands, he puts it all together to make his own unique, signature sound…,” and Alternative Nation who praised Shapiro as “Sweet, earnest and undeniably charming…Taking a page out of the book of singer-songwriters such as Dave Matthews and Tom Petty and Neil Young. Shapiro goes a long way towards getting his own chapter in that book with his unique take on good old-fashioned rock music.”  

It’s no wonder you hear all of Shapiro’s biggest musical influences Pearl Jam, Ben Harper, Dave Matthews Band, Dispatch, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, The Grateful Dead, Neil Young and more rolled into the ten tracks on Away In Your Dreams.  

The lead single, “Cool Blue River” evokes Jimmy Buffet’s aura with hints of Dave Matthews Band’s sonic style.  Listen to the song and you’ll be immediately transported to a place that has special meaning to Shapiro, “It was written after I went to Washington State to see Dave Matthews Band at the Gorge.  Seeing the band perform was amazing but even more so was making the trek across country on my own only to meet the most incredible group of strangers who welcomed me with open arms. There, those strangers became friends as I went around playing and singing my music for them. It was three days of fun, joy, love, nature, and sheer happiness.  I just wanted to capture that feeling.”  

Other tracks such as “Brother” was written for an inspiring yoga teacher named Elias that Shapiro met after a trip to Greece.  “I was in need of opening up to myself and was searching for a little peace and stillness to do that. There, Elias and I would have endless talks about music, spirituality, and energy. The words he said to me during that experience have stuck with me ever since, and ‘Brother’ is my thank you to him.”

 “World So Strange” is the first song Shapiro wrote for the album. "I got a message from an old high school friend who had gotten into a serious accident and woke up with amnesia. He couldn’t remember his kids and wife, or that his parents both had passed… During his recovery, it was recommended that he try to get a song written to help trigger some things about dreams he was having. I was honored  to write about such a personal story that wasn’t my own to help him try to regain his memories.”  The title track “Away In Your Dreams” and “Like Bonnie and Clyde” is about Shapiro’s wife, while “Where The Hell Did 10 Years Go?” is a self-reflective song looking back at the last ten years of Shapiro’s life.  “Once I wrote it, I always knew I wanted to end the album with that song.”

For Away In Your Dreams, he enlisted the help of his musician friends such as Dave Chaletzky, who helped him produce the album, plays drums and “also added a few lead guitar parts on ‘Brother,’ and ‘Pull Together,’” says Shapiro. He owns Kokopelli Music Studio in Sterling, VA where the album was recorded.  Dan Messeca is on guitar, Avi Walter on bass.  “Avi, Dan, and Dave all helped write their music parts for the album.” And finally Rich Cairns, his old band mate in Green River Junction, who Shapiro asked to play percussion on “Away In Your Dreams.”

Even though touring is on hold at the moment due to the Coronavirus and people can’t see Shapiro play live, he plans on playing more online shows and getting out on the road as soon as he can. 

When it comes down to it Shapiro simply just wants people to have a good time when listening to his music. “If it helps them get through something, or just to make someone smile, and dance, and sing. I think that is an amazing reward.”

Band Members