By Robert Goldberg | December 15, 2022
PJ LaMariana is a seasoned New York City based guitarist, bassist, singer, and songwriter who stretches the boundaries of multiple musical genres including jam, folk, R&B, indie-groove and more. Growing up in an environment where he was constantly influenced by live music, he redefines what it means to be an experimental artist through his intense energy on stage and musical range. Born and raised in Long Island and New York City, his definition of what music means to him speaks for itself: “Music is the glue of my life. The only thing that is constant. It’s ephemeral but it connects everyone.” He’s had the pleasure of playing with some incredible artists like Merl Sanders, Keller Williams, and Jimmy Herring, to name a few. His current band includes Andy Galore on bass, Anthony Robustelli on keys, and Matt Pedone on drums. His most recent solo album, For You, dropped in late 2021 and includes inviting rock and jam melodies, poignant lyrics, and a feeling of freedom to all listeners.
PJ answered a few questions for the groovement leading up to his Rockwood Music Hall Show in Mid-December:
Where are you from?
Born in Long Island and raised in New York City.
What was your first concert you went to?
I was one or two years old so it’s hard to say, but I think it was Donna Summer. My parents took me to so many live concerts when I was very young, so it’s hard to remember.
How did you first get started?
I started playing bass when I was 11 years old and took lessons as a kid. I had a massive influence from my parents because they took me to so many concerts. Everything from Diana Ross to Kiss to Al Green, and I was into it all.
How would you describe your music – either by genre or general vibe?
This is always a great question. I don’t know, I think it’s still finding its place. The latest genre name I’ve heard that I really like to describe my music as is indie groove. I’ve played bluegrass for a while, I’ve played jazz for a while. As a bass player, you wind up playing a lot of different genres, so I try to incorporate it all into my music.
What is your pre-show routine?
I try to prepare well. Having everything from the set list to the tempos, making sure everyone knows where to be and when, and I try to take care of my health–sleep well and eat well on my vegan diet. It’s really about focusing on the little things to improve my performance.
What are your shows like when you don’t follow those routines?
They’re pretty fun! You know, I’m there for the audience first, and I try not to do anything too stupid, but it doesn’t mean I always follow that. I definitely have some great stories about being in an altered state for performances, but those are for another time.
Who/what do you draw inspiration from?
I write mainly from feeling. In the past, my process will usually be from a poem I’ve written and then I’ll chop it up into lyrics–I used to do a lot of that. But now it’s more like, I sit with the guitar and when something sounds good, I just keep playing with it. New York is also a huge inspiration for me, this city is just incredible. Most recently, I’ve been challenged by the musicians I’ve been lucky to play in New York with, which has taken me out of my comfort zone and given me inspiration. Just last week, I played bass with an R&B group, which wasn’t my normal gig, but it’s inspiring to play with different genres, and it definitely influences my creativity. As for musical artists, some of the most inspiring for me include Bill Withers, Steely Dan, and The Allman Brothers.
Do you have anything you want people to take away from your music?
I really hope people can resonate and connect with my music. For me, I know how everyone can feel alone at some point, it’s the human condition. There are times we all feel separate, and I hope that my music can be a way to connect with others without interaction. That’s how music makes me feel, and if I can provide that to my listeners, then I’ve done my job.
What’s your dream venue to perform at?
That’s an easy one, MSG! That would be awesome!
What’s next for you?
I have a few more shows to round out the year, and I’ll be coming out with a new EP around late winter, early spring. The live shows I’ll be playing will include songs from my new EP, so come check them out!