- January 3, 2015
John Salaway has picked up plenty of musical knowledge in his time.
The 43-year-old multi-instrumentalist musician has called Nashville his home for 17 years, and in that time has found a comfortable spot performing at B.B King’s Blues Club and a number of other venues when he isn’t producing or touring.
The Grammy-considered Americana artist has played with Peter Frampton, Ben Folds, Anderson East and more as a drummer, guitarist and pianist.
But he cut his teeth in Southwest Florida. Salaway is returning to Sarasota to perform Americana music at Blue Rooster on Dec. 10.
“I love coming back (to Florida) and seeing old friends,” Salaway said. “I feel like I need to be by the water as often as possible.”
Salaway grew up in Englewood with a musician father who played drums. It was clear from an early age that performing would be in his future. His first love was also the drums — he discovered the craft during a lazy summer when he was 10, reigniting his father's passion for drumming. His father taught him everything he knew, and Salaway said he caught on quick. There was a therapeutic element to drumming he liked, a kind of peace that he found while playing that stayed with him when the music ceased.
“(Drumming) is really the driving force of all music,” Salaway said. “It all started out with tribes using drums in Africa, centuries and centuries ago … it’s the root of all music, it’s the most important instrument.”
He was playing in a jazz band with other students in his high school in Englewood by 15. The group — called Mystic Blues — played in Englewood, Sarasota and Boca Grande. It was around then he started experimenting with the guitar, piano, and producing his own music. Salaway liked the idea of creating music all his own.
Solo shows can be a tricky business, especially for multi-instrumentalists, but Salaway has a process for his performance he started early where he loops musical tracks together. He’ll record music live on stage and then play on top of that to create a larger, fuller sound. He’ll be on stage alone but thinks audiences will hear much more than what they’re accustomed to.
“That’s kind of my thing that I do when I'm not producing or playing drums,” he said. “... When I'm solo I do the one man band show with all those effects.”
Much of his music takes influence from The Beatles for their innovation in songwriting and pure heart, a huge inspiration for Salaway as he found his voice.
He’s spent much of this year recording new music in his studio with his next album planned to be released in the spring. The album — which will incorporate psychedelic 1960s-type sounds into his typical Americana style — will feature guest musicians from the Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, and more. The Blue Rooster audience will hear music from the new album as well as popular covers and hits from his previous albums.
As he’s continued further into his music career, he’s found it less stressful and more enjoyable to view performances as much more for the audience, than for himself. It’s better that way.
"It’s all about the heart that I put into it,” Salaway said. As long as I'm coming from that place and really wanting to put out something beautiful and heartfelt then it all feels so great.”