Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Caleb Hawley: Welcome to the Show.

If the culture and arts of New York City were to be an integral part of a daily diet, Caleb Hawley would be the main course. This well-balanced musician understands the value and importance of entertainment, incorporating humor, song variety, audience participation, and even a few sweet dances moves that flavor even the quietest venues. No stranger to the stage, Hawley has spent the past year touring the country, playing colleges, coffee houses, and a medley of local music spots, impressing audiences with a uniquely powerful voice and charming stage presence.

Hailing from the Midwest, Hawley is the youngest of three and grew up in a household with musician parents and a singer/songwriter brother. “Our vacations every summer were never to Mexico,” Caleb says, “We went to folk festivals.” Formal music lessons started at age 11, first with the drums, moving onto the guitar. Inspired by rock music like Metallica and Nirvana, Caleb joined the jazz band with dreams of pursuing the electric guitar. With three possible life goals in place at age 16, it was the singer/songwriter path that won, beating out college music professor and singing in a local acappella group. After high school he spent a year at community college, transferring later to Berklee College in Boston to complete his music degree. The move to New York came directly after graduation, along with marriage to high school sweetheart Samantha.

The 24-year-old’s music is a delicious blend of acoustic, funk and pop, with a dash of “white boy soul.” Growing up listening to a song’s lyrical content led to Hawley’s folk-based writing, but a significant jazz background gave way to gospel and blues influences. Another highlight of the act is Caleb’s use of the loop pedal, an increasingly popular instrument used by guitarists “to create looping layers of melody or texture during a live performance.”

“I first started using it at colleges because they wanted to hear pop songs,” clarifies Hawley. With a bag full of tricks to “spice thing up," including a musical caterpillar, wooden spoon, frying pan, shaker, and whistle, the audience is treated to radio hits like “Senorita” and “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough,” along with Caleb’s personal introductory rap, a clever, catchy marketing technique to introduce his website.

A true observer of human nature and social aspects, Caleb was originally drawn to satirical music, citing Randy Newman and Nelly McKay as two major influences. “What comes to me naturally is making fun of people,” Hawley laughs, but understands, “I love funny music, but I’ll listen to the CD and few times and that’s what it’s good for.” As a result, recent songs have taken a more serious turn, with chords that sing of beauty, sadness, struggle, and hope. The outcome: Music you can listen to over and over again; time capsules of the writer’s life.

The next wind of Caleb’s tour swirls through major cities like New York, Philadelphia, Des Moines, and Portland, as well local gigs in Nebraska, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont. A self-made musician, Hawley started booking tours when he was 16, taking the family van to various locations in the Midwest. One of the most difficult aspects of this lifestyle is the do-it-yourself attitude that must prevail in order to succeed. A lesson taught at a young age: “The effort you put into it in the long run will get you further.” This is particularly true in the NYC scene, loaded with options and talented young artists; it’s hard to stand out in the crowd. Previously discouraged by the “hard to impress” atmosphere in New York, Caleb felt an enormous boost of confidence and energy after a warm reception at Rockwood Music Hall last week. “It was amazing,” he said, “When the crowd is good it is easy to feed off of.”

One of the top 12 finalists in “New York Songwriter’s Circle” last year, Caleb continues to perform with this incredible operation, next appearing in a live showcase at World CafĂ© Live in Philadelphia. The networking provided by this intimate and exclusive group offers publicity to the artists, a chance put forth their most powerful music, and camaraderie between producers, musicians, and club owners. Another remarkable facet of the New York artists scene, “Songwriter’s Circle” brought Hawley one step closer to his short-term goal: to be able to walk into any town, at any given time, and draw a crowd of fifty strangers who are there solely to see him play.

What will lure these crowds is Caleb’s phenomenal ability to capture the energy of a performance. “That’s something that has always been important to me, putting on a full, entertaining show. As a solo singer/songwriter, you can be so much like everyone else, so you just have to keep switching it up. I strive to make the show fun,” Hawley explains. "Fun" is certainly the vibe radiated at a Caleb Hawley show, where you walk away smiling, happy, fulfilled, and enthused; a main course that satisfies so wholly, there’s no need for dessert.

For more information and tour dates please check out www.calebhawley.com or www.myspace.com/calebhawley.

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