SECOND CHANCES BY ERIKA NELDNER - PUBLISHED AUGUST 12, 2009
An Acworth musician is coming around full circle doing what he loves: making music. Chris DeMarco, 62, is back playing gigs and putting out records after leaving the music business years ago.
DeMarco, of Acworth, started out in the music business 40 years ago after playing with some musicians he met in college. “I met some blues musicians and started jamming with them,” he said. He said it was when his sister married that he realized that he could make a living as a musician.
“My sister married the bass player in Blood, Sweat and Tears,” he said. “When I met the band, that’s what got me started thinking about music as a career.” He started networking and became part of a band called North in San Francisco. “That was my first really big band,” he said. During his stint with North, DeMarco realized that making it in the music business meant doing more than just playing and performing. “If I wanted to do anything, I had to learn how to write songs,” he said. “I left the band and went to New York City and started writing my own songs. It took me a few years to figure it all out.”
Then he joined a band called Tangerine Zoo in Boston. “I saw Aerosmith and became pretty good friends with Steven Tyler,” he said. “I watched how they did it (got a record deal).” The bitter cold of the Northeast got to him, so DeMarco picked up and moved to California.
“I put a band together and started playing around town,” he said. “Through that, I learned how to write and record music.” As he matured, got married and had a son, he focused more of his time on his family. “That kind of slowed things down,” he said, adding that in the 1970s, he moved back to New York and joined Riff Raff, the band for which he served as the front man.
DeMarco co-wrote the songs and sang in the band. The group got signed to Island Records. “We thought we were on our way, then for some reason, they didn’t promote the record,” he said. “It’s just another sad music business story.” Increased tension and arguments led to the group’s disbanding, and DeMarco went solo.
He kept writing and recording, and, in the 1980s, a new technology called Midi came out.
“That enabled a person to play all the instruments by virtue of just playing them on a keyboard,” he said. “Without putting a band together, you could write, record, do everything yourself, which made it easier to produce songs with all the instrumentation.” DeMarco then started his own recording studio. “I found myself in the jingle business, doing 30- to 60-second spots,” he said. He also gained some experience in the movie industry during that time. “I was fortunate enough to get hired to write and produce two film scores (in 1990),” he said. “I really enjoyed that experience—being on my own.” In 1994, the big city living had gotten the best of him, and DeMarco and his family opted to move further south where life was lived a slower pace. “I had lived in New York City for a little over 20 years,” he said. “I kind of got tired of that boxed-in feeling living in an apartment. You didn’t need a car. It becomes this world like the rest of the world doesn’t exist.”
DeMarco said he got a call from his friend who lived in Kennesaw, and he was in awe when he found out how well a person could live in the Atlanta area for such a small amount of money. He moved to Acworth where he settled with his family. “Essentially, that was the end of my music career,” he said. “I realized pretty quick that there was no music business for me here, and I got into the real estate business. I enjoyed looking for the house I ultimately purchased and just saw that was something I could do. I didn’t really have that many options. Before I knew it, I was financially doing better in real estate than I ever was in the music business. I enjoyed doing real estate.”
What he thought was the end of his music career really wasn’t. He realized he was getting older, and some of his good friends in the music business had died. “As you get older, it seemed like I wasn’t that old,” he said. “My children grew up knowing their dad was a musician but never saw me do anything. I decided to get back into the music business to some extent.” But the music business had changed—for the better.
“That sort of aligned itself in a reality of doing it because of the Internet explosion of music and the way music is distributed these days,” he said. “Bands have the opportunity to promote themselves, be found, be heard, be seen on the Internet. Now they have podcasts.”
DeMarco and his band recorded “Lost and Found” and released it in 2007. He also compiled songs he performed in the 1980s and re-recorded those, and distributed his “The 80’s” CD in 2008. His next task is to release some of Riff Raff’s tunes. “I’ve remastered it,” he said. “That’s the next album that’s going to come out.” DeMarco and his band also are performing live. He played The Scene in Marietta last month.
He said his music tends to appeal to “the older crowd,” but it’s for all audiences. The band’s sound is that of 1960s and 1970s rock and roll intertwined with sounds that have influenced him over the years. “It’s a combination of my background in pure rock and roll—blues-oriented rock and roll,” he said. “It incorporates jazz and pop. It’s an eclectic blend of where I’ve been and the music I’ve touched on in the years.”
For show information, go to www.chrisdemarco.com.
DeMarco said he continues to look for different venues to play, but just like the real estate industry, the slow economy is hitting local musicians. “I’ve kind of got a plan. Times are very difficult right now. In the real estate business, there’s no business. The clubs aren’t paying. They want musicians to come and play for free. It’s pretty tough out there,” he said. “I have a really good band right now. We’re not a copy band. We’re doing original music. We’re going to keep trying and keep plugging along and make some more fans along the way, and hopefully have some success.”
By Sally Litchfield firstname.lastname@example.org
Classic rock musician Chris DeMarco and The Chris DeMarco Band will open at one of Marietta's newest music venues, The Scene (2854 Delk Road on July 10 at 9 p.m.) In addition to vocals, DeMarco plays guitar and harmonica. Band members include Dell Bolos and Jerry Sorn on guitar, Reggie Dantzler on bass, Dave James on Keyboards and Brandon Thompson on drums. Price of admission is $10 in advance, $12 the night of the show. For advance tickets, visit www.chrisdemarco.com/store.html. The venue is for "all ages," but concertgoers over age 21 have the option of purchasing drinks by obtaining a colored bracelet. DeMarco's interest in music began when he met and played with a small blues band while in school in Los Angeles. When his sister married the bass player of Blood, Sweet and Tears, "I got to meet those guys and began thinking about a singing profession," says DeMarco. His musical career evolved, with a short interlude in acting, taking him to New York, Boston, Europe and back to L.A., where he connected with a who's who of people in the music industry. The height of DeMarco's career came in the '70s and '80s. During this time he was the lead vocalist for the band Riff Raff. DeMarco chose to leave the fast-paced life of a musician and settle in Cobb in 1994, after visiting a friend who lived in Kennesaw. He earned his real estate license and still sells in the Cherokee County community. Five years ago, DeMarco suffered a serious illness close to the time that three of his musical contemporaries, Robert Palmer, Warren Zevon and Michael Kamen, died. "My children had grown up knowing 'my daddy was a musician' but never really having seen me in the days I was really doing it," explains the father of three. "They didn't know that part of me and I don't want to leave without doing something significant." DeMarco produced his CD "Lost and Found," which "connects my older career to now," he said. Selections feature artists like Dick Wagner (Alice Cooper Band), Tommy Talton (Gregg Allman Band) and Kenny Mazur (Robert Palmer Band). Billy Joel and Michael Monarch (Steppenwolf) play on the bonus track "Sail Away."
His latest CD "Chris DeMarco - The '80s," is a collection of music recorded by DeMarco from 1980-85, working with musicians including Kenny Mazur, Bob Kulick and Doug Katsaros.
DeMarco's music can purchased on iTunes, Rhapsody and Napster or CDs at Amazon, CD Baby or his Web site. For more information, call Dreamco Music at (678) 860-4100 or e-mail email@example.com.
FULL-PAGE ARTICLE IN THE LIFESTYLE SECTION OF THE MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL AND THE CHEROKEE TRIBUNE, FRIDAY, JUNE 26, 2009
JUNIOR'S CAVE INTERVIEW PUBLISHED 10/31/08
Isaac: Elaborate on who you are and your upbringing.
Chris Demarco: I was born into a military family. I had a strict and fair upbringing. My father was my greatest influence. He is a quiet man and a musician in his own right. I've always tried to emulate my dad in the way he lived his life. If could only emulate his putting stroke, I would have it all!
Isaac: Was there any one musician that spoke to your heart so profoundly, you were inspired to do your own thing?
Chris Demarco: There were two, Mick Jagger and Robert Plant.
Isaac: Which singer/group would you say you would most like to do a duet with?
Chris Demarco: Bing Crosby.
Isaac: What singer/songwriter do you most connect with?
Chris Demarco: The list is too long!
Isaac: Out of your entire song collection that you've written thus far, which song(s) would you say is/are the most personal/meaningful to you?
Chris Demarco: They are all personal. List upon request.
Isaac: Which singers/groups do you enjoy/like from some of today's music genres?
Chris Demarco: Beck, Randall Bramlett.
Isaac: What charities are you involved with or support?
Chris Demarco: Disabled veterans.
Isaac: Have you (or would you ever consider) writing a song about any of today's particular world issues/problems? If so, what world issue would speak to you the most to write about?
Chris Demarco: Yes. You will find the answer to that question on my next CD.
Isaac: Why should people listen to your music?
Chris Demarco: I don't know.
Isaac: Your music is relaxing and chill. What inspired you to toss out these awesome lyrics and cords?
Chris Demarco: To be honest with you, I have been using the same chords for 40 years. A note here or there changes everything so they've evolved only by notes. Lyrically, however, we all hopefully grow as humans and our awareness enables us to write about subjects later in life that we were unable to see clearly earlier. I don't feel like I've changed that much. My sentiments are and have been dedicated to love and the human condition.
Isaac: How far into the creation of a song do you share any of it with anyone? Who would you play it for? Would it be a chorus, a verse and chorus, or a complete song?
Chris Demarco: I share it with everybody all the time from the first note, if they want to know about it.
Isaac: How much do you let others "mess around with" one of your new songs?
Chris Demarco: I've always enjoyed collaboration and depending on the song, the amount of collaboration changes. Some songs I know from the beginning where I'm going and when I've gotten there it is done. Other songs I am finding my way, which gives the opportunity to my collaborators to join in.
Isaac: Do you have to be a tortured soul to be a singer-songwriter?
Chris Demarco: No.
Isaac: Are your songs strictly autobiographical or are they embroidered autobiography?
Chris Demarco: No...sometimes...most of the time they are my imagination moving through the lives of my friends, people that I read about, books that I read and other influences.
Isaac: How long does it take you to process your emotions and turn them into songs?
Chris Demarco: The genesis of a song from my emotion is virtually instantaneous. I know immediately that I have something which I will turn into a song. The process to complete the song, however, varies in length. Sometimes the process is 10 minutes long, other times it is 20 years.
Isaac: The best piece of advice you actually followed?
Chris Demarco: One was given to me by Peter Max. He told me that the way he paints creatively is that every day he goes into his studio, he picks up his brushes, he looks at the canvas and he puts paint on it. I interpreted that advice to my music and when I enter into my creative time I go to my piano every day and I bang away. The second was advice I gave myself. After years of trying to produce music people would like, I told myself to forget it. I had to produce music that I liked, LOVED. Then, and only then would people hear my music and know that I was true, that I was honest, that I gave it all I had from my soul.
Isaac: Give Shutouts to your family and friends.
Chris Demarco: My biggest and greatest supporter has been my secretary, Charlotte (have you heard the song "Love and Murder"?)
Isaac: Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
Chris Demarco: I'm working on my next CD entitled "Genetic Marker".
MSJ: How does living there affect your songwriting?
It doesn’t affect it. My songwriting is something I create within my mind regardless of my geographic location. I’ve written songs in New York, Paris, London, Rome, Munich and Hollywood, and the subjects were all unrelated to where I lived at the time.
MSJ: How long have you been playing and what was your first instrument?
I’ve been playing since 1969. My first instrument was guitar.
MSJ: Who is in your ultimate super group?
John Bonham on drums, Duane Allman and Jeff Beck on guitars, Jim Fielder (Blood Sweat and Tears – who is playing on my CD) on bass, Bobby Whitlock on keyboards. I’m singing, of course!
MSJ: What's the greatest thing that's ever been said about your music?
Numbers of people have commented that they understood precisely what I was describing in my songs and related to it as if it was part of their own life. This told me that I had achieved what I was striving to achieve in painting a picture with words of what I had felt emotionally.
MSJ: What are your main musical influences?
The lineage from jazz to blues, to blues-based rock and roll.
MSJ: What's the song you're most proud of writing?
I don’t think that word applies. I would say that I feel more grateful that I was able to express myself, after writing a song, than proud.
MSJ: What's the last album you bought that you're enjoying?
Boz Scaggs’s first album.
MSJ: Have you seen any great live shows lately?
Yes, The Eagles in Atlanta in May, 2008.
MSJ: What is your guilty pleasure band?
MSJ: What was the first album you ever bought?
The Rolling Stones 12 X 5
MSJ: What was the first concert you ever attended?
Blood Sweat and Tears, 1971 in Gainesville, Florida
MSJ: If you could create your own fantasy music festival, who would the top 6 headliners be?
Bing CrosbyRobert JohnsonNat King ColeThe Rolling StonesLed ZepplinJeff Beck
MSJ: What is your favorite movie?
Here Comes Mr. Jordan
MSJ: Have you read any great books lately?
Dashiell Hammett compilation of novels
MSJ: Do you write books, short stories, poems or a blog?
I write poems, I wrote a screen play, short stories, and I’m writing a book that I may finish some day.
MSJ: If you were a superhero what famous musician would be your arch-nemesis and why?
My musical arch nemesis would be a generic rapper (all rap artists rolled into one character)
MSJ: Have you ever illegally downloaded music?
MSJ: The major labels have said that illegal downloading is at the heart of the problems they have with lower sales, would you agree?
I don’t have enough statistical information to make a comment on that. I would take a guess that the quality of the music being put out by the major labels is not what it used to be.
MSJ: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording and trading live shows?
I don’t like it.
MSJ: What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?
Recently we were shooting a music video for the Lost and Found album and we invited a lot of people to create a crowd atmosphere. Unfortunately only 5 came, so we had to make 5 people look like a crowd! Thank God I lived in Hollywood for a few years…
RADIO INTERVIEW - 5/3/08
If you missed the interview with DJ Matty Grant on the Behringer Showcase Special, Saturday, May 3rd, don't worry - you can click on the sound file below and check it out!
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