Joe Conti By Tom Craig February 1, 2021 To followup on our feature on Joseph Conti in our last issue we spoke with his father Joe Conti and Rob Roy the Owner of Powerstation Studios in Pompano where Joseph recorded.SFL Music: Hey Joe. Joe Conti: As ready as I’ll ever be.SFL Music: How are you? Conti: I’m good. I’m good.SFL Music: Good. Well, I’d like to have you talk to me a little bit about Joseph. And when he was born, kind of how you nurtured him along when it came to all the instruments you had around the house and you’re playing. How did you make him comfortable with them? Conti: Well, they were always around him. And I always made sure that they were always around him like a little keyboard and shakers, mandolins when he was little. Just always… They were kind of his toys, a little drum set that was a really cool toy and he had all this stuff by the time he was one to be honest with you. It was pretty wild. And then…SFL Music: Now, these were all toy instruments? Conti: No, some were real instruments and some were toy. And even if they were a toy instrument, it was the best toy instrument you could get.SFL Music: Okay. Conti: Like the little piano, it was a little upright and it was so small but it was so cool and it really played. It was really a piano. It was really neat.SFL Music: Wow. Conti: Yeah, there was just stuff… There was always stuff around him and when I would sit with him, I spent a lot of time with him, I would sit with those things with him. You know what I mean?SFL Music: Yes Conti: And play with him. And by the time he was three is when he was actually starting to take lessons.SFL Music: Wow, at three years old? Conti: At three years old on a violin at the Shepherd Institute. They said that they don’t usually take them that young, but it’s, “Bring him in and we’ll see how he does and if he… I’ll let you know.” And I brought him in and they said, “Yeah.” And it was a thing in the evening. It wasn’t at a school and it was violin, and it was the Suzuki method. At three, they weren’t teaching him how to read, it was all by ear. But by the time he was five, he was reading for violin.SFL Music: Really? Conti: He reads but I think he only reads really for violin. I don’t think he can read for piano, or the guitar, or anything like that. He can for violin though.SFL Music: And still to this day? Conti: He’s first chair at Cardinal Gibbons.SFL Music: Really? For violin? Conti: Yeah, he’s a freshman. He’s a junior now.SFL Music: Okay. Conti: But in his freshman year, he was first chair as a freshman.SFL Music: Wow. So from the age of one he started showing in an interest in all of these just because you kind of surrounded him with them. Conti: Yes, absolutely. I mean, he was already doing recitals and onstage by the time he was three.SFL Music: Unbelievable. Wow. When he was very young from birth to a year or whatever, did you play for him? And if so, what instrument? Conti: Yeah, the guitar. I would play the guitar.SFL Music: Okay. Conti: And now it’s hard for him, the guitar, even the little guitars. I mean, he had a little guitar, but when they’re that young the guitar, a little guitar… It’s hard to get a good little guitar. You can get them, but they’re tough. He did have them, but he wasn’t really playing guitar at three. Around five-ish, right in there when he could get his hands around the little-SFL Music: Around the neck. Conti: … guitar that we had. Yeah.SFL Music: So the violin was really the… Well, I guess piano was first? Conti: Yeah, the keyboard was like a first toy. Because you can get those as toys and they’re easy. Anyone can sit there and pound those and make noise out of them. You know what I mean? Or little drums and little percussion stuff you can, little kids they can play with them and make noise with them.SFL Music: Right. Conti: And then just he was kind of like… I have film of him. He’s just like three years old, four… He learned to talk watching Beatles cartoons. That’s how he learned to talk. I got him the Beatles cartoons and he started talking. And then by as little as young as five years old, he’s just doing Beatles’ songs from front to end.SFL Music: Incredible. Incredible. And you were in bands this whole time. So did you rehearse at home when he was young and he would be with you? Conti: No. When I could take him out on gigs I would. And then I would also take him out to when [Poliak was playing, or when John Tillman was playing, or all of the musician friends I have from growing up down here. I would take him and they would always let him up on stage. They always would. I mean, they all knew him and they would let him up. And when he was really little he would just be on a conga, or sitting on Al Poliak’s lap, or sitting between John Tillman’s legs, just up there on stage doing something. You know?SFL Music: Wow. That’s really something. If you weren’t playing music yourself at home, what music were you turning him onto via the stereo or whatever? What were you listening to with him? Conti: Really classic rock, but I would break it down to the musician like a drummer and a bass player and a guitar player. So it was pretty funny when he was talking to Rob Roy and Rob was bringing up all these bands, he was very familiar with them all. I was real… I wanted to give him the background of all these players and everything like that so he can have a conversation about a lot of people. You’d be surprised. I mean, he was pretty young, I don’t know, seven or eight years old and he was doing something and somebody was talking to him, they asked who his favorite bass player was and he said, “Jaco Pastorius,” and the guy looked at him and went, “What?” “What?”SFL Music: Because you pointed out individual musicians not just groups. Conti: Correct. I did that.SFL Music: Yeah. And obviously, besides classic rock you turned him onto some jazz. Conti: Oh, he’ll talk to you about Django Reinhardt, or Stéphane Grappelli, or Louis Armstrong. He’ll talk to you all day long about those guys.SFL Music: So dad turned him onto a wide variety of music genres? Conti: Yes, very wide. We weren’t in one thing at all. I mean, we were… Even those… like David Grisman or Mark O’Connor. I mean, all those kind of people. He’s familiar with them all. Plus, he knows all the bands too. You know?SFL Music: Right. Conti: He knows the band, but he moves. He’ll sit and figure out, he’ll immerse himself into Pink Floyd and sit there and figure everything out. And then all the sudden he’s listening to Dave Mason or something and then something else. You know?SFL Music: Right. Well, I’m sure that comes from the variety you turned him onto back then. Conti: Yeah.SFL Music: So that’s really amazing. Conti: Even country, man. He’ll talk to you about Hank Williams.SFL Music: Will he? Okay. Conti: Yeah.SFL Music: So he’s first chair violin for Cardinal Gibbons. When he’s not in the band, what’s his favorite instrument? Conti: He’ll probably tell you guitar.SFL Music: Ok. Conti: But that’s what he’ll probably tell you the guitar is his favorite instrument.SFL Music: Okay. What’s dad say? Conti: He riffs the shit out of a mandolin. And I love it when he plays mandolin because I don’t know where he comes from on that. But he’s… I don’t really know. I mean, I guess guitar.SFL Music: Okay. How many different instruments does he play, Joe? Conti: Well, he’s… Drums, keyboard, bass, guitar, violin, mandolin, I don’t know. He kind of… If you hand him something he’ll just kind of figure it out. If you gave him a yuke and you told him how to tune it, even though he’s never played one, he’ll probably be playing a song pretty quickly on it. You know?SFL Music: Right. Conti: I don’t know. He’s pretty good with strings.SFL Music: Okay. Conti: He’s pretty good with strings.SFL Music: What would you like to see him do? Conti: Oh, just be happy. I don’t know.SFL Music: Yeah. Conti: You know?SFL Music: Yeah. Conti: Being young like that… When he would try to get into practice, the parent needs to be involved in all this kind of stuff. You got to… Behind every successful whatever it is, there’s someone back there helping. You know?SFL Music: Right. Conti: And the parent needs to… When he’s little they got to practice and sometimes he don’t want to practice. And then sometimes in the summertime he would just put everything down and not pick nothing up. And then I talked to his violin teacher when he’s six years old, seven years old, and I go, “Brian, I can’t get him to practice.” And he goes, “Joe, he’s six years old. All right? He’s seven years old. Leave him alone.” The pandemic, during the pandemic is when I really noticed him start getting a little more… He’s never really been serious with it. It just comes so natural, but he just doesn’t flaunt it, he doesn’t show it, he doesn’t… It’s like, “Can’t everyone do it??SFL Music: Right. Conti: So he’s not really that… He doesn’t use it to do anything with it in terms of getting… He just doesn’t. But now he’s playing a lot. He’s really playing a lot right now, especially since the pandemic with the studio and him just immersing himself and he’s just writing and recording, and writing and recording, and writing and recording. That’s why I really wanted to get him into that-SFL Music: Power Station. Conti: … in the studio again. Yeah.SFL Music: Yeah. Conti: Yeah, that was Jay’s idea, Power Station.SFL Music: Yeah. Conti: I didn’t know where to go. That was a good spot.SFL Music: Yeah. Well, I think it says a lot for his drive in that the stuff he would normally be doing like the rest of us, you can’t do it. So to keep yourself sane, immerse yourself into what you can do. Would you say? Conti: Yeah. You’re right. I mean, imagine being 15 and 16 year old during this pandemic and you’re locked in a house. You can’t go nowhere. I mean, that’s got to be tough.SFL Music: Yeah. Conti: And he really, he really, really just sat down and got real creative and just wrote a lot and recorded a lot. And I could tell in the very beginning how he was progressing and what he was thinking and what he was hearing and seeing and everything like that. From the earlier songs until now, I think he did 42 tracks at Power Station in seven hours.SFL Music: Wow. And I believe Jay mentioned something about that is he doing something with Spotify? Conti: Yeah, he got… I’m not very hip on Spotify. I don’t really know the process.SFL Music: Yeah, me either. Conti: He told me that he got approved for Spotify, but I don’t really know what that means.SFL Music: Well, when I talk to him, I’ll ask him about that. Conti: Yeah.SFL Music: But boy, he really sounds like an interesting guy. I can’t wait to speak with him and find out a little bit more about him from him. Conti: Yeah.SFL Music: Do you see him going onto college for music? Conti: There was a time up until this pandemic where he was like… He wanted, he definitely wants to go to college. There’s no question about that. He cannot wait. All right? And he wants to go somewhere. Hopefully, he doesn’t have to go locally. He wants to do what all the college kids wants to do. He wants to go to college somewhere. I hope that all that can happen. All right?SFL Music: Right. Conti: School student, he’s not the best. I mean, it’s a whole other world in there in school. He’s always in trouble. He’s always creating… I mean, the kid is he’s not a school kid. He does like school. He’s very social and all that kind of stuff. I mean, all that part of school is good.SFL Music: Okay Conti: He totally wants to go to college. And I have talked to him so much. It’s like, “Your violin would get you into a college somewhere, Joseph. I don’t know where. You have to apply or look around or whatever, but you would get into… There’s some school where you could get a ride, a complete paid for whatever it is that you want to do. You don’t have to major in it. You don’t have to graduate with it if you don’t want. But just use your violin and let’s get college paid for.”SFL Music: Yeah. Conti: So I think he’s thinking that way. I think his whole thing though is more in… He’s very creative. He loves the production side of it all, the studio side of it all. Writing the song, doing the parts, laying it all down. And he’s really interested in… I think that right now that’s where his head is.SFL Music: Oh, okay. Conti: Not so much being rockstarSFL Music: Could you see him at somewhere like Berklee or something like that, or more of a regular college that has a good music department? Conti: I’m not sure. He doesn’t talk about Berklee or anything like that. I mean, it’s not something that comes out of his mouth. You know? I don’t really know yet, but this is a big pivotal year, and of course, with all of that.SFL Music: Right. Conti: But unfortunately, I mean, they’re just now, next week start going to class again two days a week and getting involved in more of that. But this year’s a big time to see what he’s going to do right now with college and what it is that he wants to do and where he wants to go. He’s going to need to make up his mind. He’s going to need to start figuring that out.SFL Music: Yep, you’re right. Junior year is a pivotal year. Conti: It’s a pivotal year.SFL Music: And it’s made even rougher because of this. If you’re only doing in-person two days a week and hopefully, by the time he’s ready to go off to wherever, we will be on the other side of this thing and it’ll be a normal college life for him. Conti: Yeah. Just where you at with what it is that he wants to major in with music and stuff like that, I don’t know.SFL Music: Yeah. Conti: He’s 16. You know?SFL Music: Right. And he could change his mind 20 times between now and graduation. Conti: I know.SFL Music: Oh man. Well, I have to congratulate you on a son that is just this gifted in music. When Jay told me about it, I was instantly excited to speak with you and do this for him. Conti: Yeah.Share It!