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Bio

John Michael Hersey

John Michael Hersey is a singer/songwriter known for his sophisticated yet accessible melding of rock, pop, folk, blues and country. Hersey is first and foremost a storyteller, one who happens to play a mean guitar. 

In September 2017 Hersey released Fifteen Years, a selection of previously unreleased recordings from 1986 to 2001 highlighting his ever-evolving artistic voice and featuring collaborations with many outstanding musicians and songwriters.

“Like a Vagabond” and “Magic, Magic” were recorded in 1986 at NYU and feature Katherine Bescherer on guitar and vocals, Kurt Gundersen on bass, Dore Abrams on piano and Adam Weber on drums. “Strange, Strange Sea,” (co-written with John Carney and Michael Vassaras) “The Color of My Skin” and “Here in the Middle” (co-written with Vassaras) were recorded at Harold Desau Recording in NYC in 1988 and feature Peter Millrose on keyboards, Al Cohen on bass and Tass Filipos on drums. “The Storm Sometimes,” “Brave New Man” and “Time’s Arrow” were recorded at Waterfront Studios in Hoboken, NJ in 1991 and feature Millrose on keyboards, Randy Gilmore on sax, Darren Solomon on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums. “One Track Mind,” (co-written with David Sykes and William “Prez” Tyus) “Clowns Cry Too,” “You Don’t Care,” (both co-written with Tyus) “Another Night,” (co-written with Sykes and Tyus) “The Skin I’m In” (co-written with Jack Kolkmeyer and Tyus) and “One” (co-written with Sykes and Tyus) were recorded at DSP in NYC between 1999 and 2001 and feature David Sykes on keyboards, Bob DesJardins on bass and John DiGiulio on drums.

Hersey has released seven other albums of original material: Soup Du Jour (1999), Whirligig (2003), Mr. Lucky [with Speedo and the Cadillacs] (2004), How Am I Here? (2007), Adirondack (2014), You Got to Me (2016) and Personal Belongings (2017). 

Hersey grew up in the 1970s in the small town of Franklinville, NJ where he idolized The Beatles. He and his pre-teen friends would pretend to be the Fab Four, playing the records at full volume, using brooms for guitars and coffee cans for drums. As a teen, Hersey formed a Top Forty band called Shale that played local high school dances and college parties.

In the 1980s, he moved to New York City where he eventually got a job playing the guitar with the legendary doo-wop group The Cadillacs. Several years later he wrote and produced an album for them, Mr. Lucky. In the 1990s, he performed in the clubs of NYC and wrote songs about his life there. One such song, on the album Soup Du Jour, is Miles Away. It features the high lonesome harmonica playing of William Gallison and poignantly describes the alienation and loneliness one can feel in the big city. Also featured on this album were the core members of Hersey’s band: Bob DesJardins on bass, John Digiulio on drums and Jim Wacker on Keyboards.

In the 2000s, Hersey began to strut his stuff as a guitarist, forging his own brand of blues on Heartbreak 101 from the album Whirligig and Running from the Blues from How Am I Here? At the end of the decade, Hersey’s life story entered a dark phase. He got himself into some serious trouble and ended up being a guest of the state of New York for a year. He has since righted himself and wrote about his prison experience on Adirondack. A folkwords.com review tells the tale:

“Having spent time becoming familiar with the harder side of fortune, John Michael Hersey surely writes some strong words, with powerful tunes to carry those words. The folk rock and folk ballad songs on his album ADIRONDACK' relate a journey through tough times laying down feelings in song. It’s raw, hard, observant and thought provoking.”

His song Sittin’ Pretty from that album is about how he returned home to New York City a changed and grateful man.

In 2016, Hersey released You Got to Me. Here’s what beachsloth.com had to say about the album.

“Delivered with true spirit is the impassioned work of John Michael Hersey’s “You Got To Me”. John Michael Hersey’s vocals serve as the heart of the album as his expressive lyricism works wonders. Carefully crafting an intricate narrative over the course of the album John Michael Hersey explores the concept of relationships and the many complications they often run into.

Opening the album off on a high note is the loose and gentle spirit of “You Saved My Life”. With a level of restraint, the song has a slightly jazzy feeling to it as it slowly unfurls.

John Michael Hersey’s “You Got To Me” offers a timeless take on pop music.”

In March 2017 Hersey released Personal Belongings, an artful array of rock, pop, blues, folk and country.

On this album he runs the seasoned adult alternative singer/songwriter gamut: From the confessional pop/rock of “Get Through,“ and “All My Life;” the folk autobiography of “Gig in the Street,” the soulful blues of “When It Rains,” “Hole in the My Heart” and “La Dolce Blues;” the poignant doo-wop of “Trying Times;” the straight ahead rockers “Junior” and “A Little Lovin’;” the tender ballad “Lady of the Day;” the country two-step “The Beaten Path;” and the Irish folk-flavored “Reachin’.”

Hersey wrote, produced, sang and played the guitar. The album was co-produced and recorded by Rich Gaglia at Psych Musicin New York City. Bob Desjardins played bass, John DiGiulio drums and percussion, Jim Wacker keyboards and Jonathan Finkelman lead guitar.

According to Beachsloth.com:

“With a lazy Sunday afternoon playfulness to it is John Michael Hersey’s thoughtful singer-songwriter sound of “Personnel Belongings”. Showing off an impressive knack for storytelling the songs unfurl in a clever concise way. Throughout the album, John Michael Hersey taps into feelings of yearning, relationships, and simply trying to get through life in whatever way possible. Sonically the songs draw from a wide variety of styles, going all the way from pop to blues to folk with everything else in between.”

 

 

 

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