There is some good news and some bad news when it comes to Joseph Oldock's Sept. 18 album-release party at the Chatterbox Drive-In in Frankford.
Bad news first: Chatterbox will be closed to the public that Friday night. But the good news -- the official release of Oldock's first studio album, "Late Night Song" -- far outweighs the bad, especially if you ask the owner of the Chatterbox, Don Hall. "Joey's been a part of (the Chatterbox) since before he got his driver's license," Hall said. "He's a loyal, valued and much-loved employee. Not only by me, but the rest of the staff. And we're all really proud of him."
Oldock, 26, has worked at the Chatterbox for almost nine years and Hall knew his big night needed to be somewhere special. "This is where it needs to be," Hall said. "This room, the way that it's set up with that stage in the middle, just lends itself to a wonderful experience." Oldock -- whose stage name is Joseph Henry -- and the Oak Band will be performing live on stage at 6:30 p.m. The group will be playing original tracks from the album, which they just finished putting the final touches on this week at PonderRosa Studios in Lafayette.
An independently financed album, "Late Night Song" is a labor of love. The 12-track album features Oldock on lead vocals and playing acoustic guitar. His release party is by invite only and approximately 160 friends, family and fans who supported him through the process will be on hand to witness his defining musical moment.
Oldock was introduced to Rich Rodman, owner of PonderRosa Studios, by Hall at the Chatterbox through a chance encounter. Oldock was waiting tables and overheard the two men talking about a new recording studio. Since music has been a part of Oldock's life since he was a young child, his interest was instantly piqued. Rodman offered for the two men to visit PonderRosa and they gladly accepted.
It did not take long for Oldock to realize PonderRosa would be the perfect place to cut his first album.
According to Tom Askin, studio manager and chief engineer at PonderRosa Studios, the operation bills itself as a "full service retreat recording studio" and a place where artists come to escape, clear their minds and just focus on making great music.
Askin was introduced to Oldock during that initial visit and knew right away that something amazing was about to happen. "Joe gave me a call and we met up the next day," Askin recalls. "He brought up his guitar. He was half a verse into his first song and I realized, wow, this guy is a smoking talent. Just fantastic. We recognized his talent right away."
On the final day of putting the album together, John Locher, assistant manager and engineer at PonderRosa, was just as complimentary of Oldock. "Joe's project has been so unique, for me in particular, because I don't usually work on country," Locher said.
"It's kind of a bittersweet thing because we're all excited to get it done, get it to Joe and have him love it. But we all enjoyed working on it so much we don't want it to end yet because it's such a great project. It's one of the best projects I've done while recording. We want Joe to start another record because we want to work with him as much as we can."
Joseph Henry and the Oak Band play a style of music that is unique. Oldock himself describes it as "alternative-country-folk and a little Western." Askin, who has worked with dozens of artists in the area for years, says the music and Oldock's storytelling set him apart. "Not only (Joe's) strengths in terms of his vocal performance and guitar playing, but what's really behind it are the songs," Askin said. "You can be a great performer, you can have the greatest voice and the greatest performance. But, without the songs it's not really going to go anywhere. And that's Joe's greatest asset. He's already got the voice, the talent (and) his guitar abilities. But what puts it over the top are the songs themselves. His song writing is spectacular."
If there is one song that speaks to what this album is, and what the future could hold for Oldock, it is "Garden State." Oldock wrote the song during a moment of solitude with his guitar. The surroundings of his hometown -- Branchville -- and the realization of how much he enjoyed being right where he was ended up being the impetus for a truly great song. "I'm really excited about ‘Garden State'," Oldock said. "It wasn't exactly scheduled to be on the album. I went away to Chicago with few other singer/songwriters from the area. We played a couple of gigs and this was one of the tunes we were playing. And it just sounded amazing when we were out on the road. We got back and it didn't really take much convincing (to record the song). "I like story-telling through songwriting. So any kind of experience, even if it's a personal experience, those are always the ones that (I like to make). A lot of people share the same personal experiences. So if that's the connection I can make, it's one of my main focuses."
THE BIG NIGHT
Friday, Sept. 18, will be the culmination of an ambitious undertaking for Oldock. The project started in December and took until just this week to complete. Oldock plans for Joseph Henry and the Oak Band to play nearly all of "Late Night Song."
The album may be complete, but Oldock's journey as a musician has only just begun. Many nights spent traveling with various bands, doing small gigs in bars and countless hours practicing his original songs will all come full-circle in front of a room of loved ones all there to support him. "I wanted to share this with as many family and friends as possible," Oldock said. "I'm looking forward to seeing (people) I haven't seen in a while. That's definitely going to be a joy to sit there on stage and look out and see so many familiar faces. That's an exciting part of it." The gravity of the moment is not lost on Oldock. But neither is the simple pleasure of making people happy through his music.