|Photo by: Provided|
For many of us here at Ohio University, Athens and music are engrained into our soul. Both are such a major source of happiness in our lives that it's hard to imagine leaving them behind once you don your cap and gown.
Fortunately, that doesn't necessarily have to be the case, as proven by Columbus based singer-songwriter Joey Hebdo. Touting a guitar and singing like a more laid-back Jeff Buckley, Hebdo is ready to not only take Athens by storm with his blues-infused indie folk, but also the rest of the country.
Music, and singing in particular, has always been an integral part of Hebdo's life. Coming from a musically-inclined family where both his father and grandfather were singers, Hebdo has been singing since he was only two years old.
"We came from a Lebanese background, so there were a lot of hand drums and things like that. There were a lot of big group gatherings of people and a lot of singing and dancing. So, it wasn't just a hobby, it was normal in where I was from," Hebdo explained. "It's really been a whole lifetime thing."
While he's essentially been singing his entire life, Hebdo didn't pick up a guitar until midway through high school.
"I was probably like most high school kids. I was kind of on my own a lot, so I spent a lot of time playing guitar and became kind of obsessed with it," he said. "And, since music was such a part of my life already and I already understood how it worked, I just started messing around and found out how to play songs I knew and spent the next few years after that just sort of developing the whole thing."
Things musically really picked up for Hebdo when he moved to Athens. He attended school at Ohio University from 2001 to 2005, where he "did the whole major thing" while also working on his musical craft at nighttime--which he said kept him plenty busy--by frequently playing open mic nights at the now-defunct Blue Gator. And though Hebdo may now live in Columbus, he's a true Athenian through and through.
"Once I got to Athens, there was really no looking back. It's a real great place to nurture and grow since it is kind of its own isolated little bubble," Hebdo said. "It allows you to work on who you are and how to do things. Then you start to branch out more and go other places. After that, you start to understand the community of the city, especially the music scene. It really all come together.
"It's a great place, and it's a place that holds a really special spot in my heart. That sounds really corny, really cheesy. But, it's really just a special place to me. I owe a lot to it, just because of all the growth that happens there."
Athens and its local businesses have even traveled as far as Austin with Hebdo. He recently went to the city's famous South by Southwest festival along with several other Columbus-based musicians, carrying with him a ukulele from Athens's Blue Eagle Music. And it certainly seems to have fared well for him.
"South by Southwest went really well," he said. "Our show was over capacity, and we were told there was an hour wait outside the venue too. I actually played a ukulele I just bought from Blue Eagle there, and after that I just played it outside on the street.
"The festival is really like nothing else. Everyone there is so friendly and there for the same networking purposes. It'd be hard not to meet a bunch of new people, you know? Everyone was like 'Hi neighbor,' 'Hi neighbor.' No one was stuck up. It was all really exhausting, but in the best way possible," Hebdo said.
Besides SXSW, Hebdo has kept himself plenty busy with side projects. Most notably, he and several other Ohio-based singer-songwriters recently went up to the Hocking Hills to record an album.
"We locked ourselves up in a cabin to make a record, and we finished it in only three and a half days. We didn't bring drums or a bass or anything, just whatever we had. We all wrote our own songs but played on each others' tracks, so it's a real collaborative effort," he said. "It was in the middle of winter, so there was no one else there."
The result is currently being mixed and is due out this autumn because of its "fall feel." It's sure to be a unique and interesting piece of folk rock with an Appalachian feel.
Despite everything else he has going on, Hebdo still is sure to make some time for his beloved Athens. Throughout April, he's been playing every Thursday night at Jackie O's Pub & Brewery, and the last of these shows is coming up this week. Each time, he's played with a different guest musician (this week it's The Andy Shaw Band), and his run at the brewery has been quite successful. Due to scheduling conflicts, he will not be doing his regular gig there for the rest of the quarter, though he does hope to start it back up again come autumn.
He'll also be participating in this Saturday's Lennon Orchestra, also at Jackie O's. Originally started several years ago as a one-off tribute for a fallen friend, this show has grown into an annual and then bi-annual event during which an array of musicians play the music from everyone's favorite band.
"It's grown. Now, we know 90-plus songs. And it's a really different experience because everybody knows the songs and sings along. I'm sure they're the only band in the world that people can say that about. It's good for Moms Weekend too, because people don't necessarily know what to do with their mom, but they're like, 'Hey, she likes The Beatles! Let's go to that,'" Hebdo said.
It certainly seems like he has a lot on his plate, but that's because Joey Hebdo is a hard-working guy whose intense drive is certainly going to get him far. From his days as a singing toddler to open mic nights during college to a gig at a world famous music festival, Hebdo has been belting his heart out and playing his guitar for many satisfied concert-goers. The music community of Athens, which he loves so much, should certainly be glad to claim such a talented and genuine musician.
ACRN staff opens up about the songs that mean the most.
The Rock Lobsters shamelessly admit their most shameful musical passions.
ACRN staff looks ahead at 2012 for their most anticipated upcoming releases.
Because everyone loves a good year-end list, right? Check out the albums we enjoyed the most in 2011, from the blues rock of The Black Keys to big-time rap collab Watch the Throne.
The cohesiveness of Garden Window shows the utter strength O'Brother possesses to carry forth, to move onward and upward.
Three people who matter to the music business speak their minds on the resurgence in popularity of the LP record as a music format.
With learning the art of fame being a must in today's music culture, Ohio University freshman Tess Stevens has been working her whole life to become a star.
ACRN writers present a killer playlist of rockin' Halloween favorites to get your ghoul on all weekend long.
Hailing from two of Ohio's biggest cities, the mind-bogglingly young Indigo Wild is ready to break out of the state that has nursed it for over a year. And they have the talent to do it.
Dean Tartaglia wrote and recorded eight original songs in eight hours... twice.