Following the tradition of keeping things fresh week to week here in the Local Radar, I recently had the chance to talk to the reigning frontman of one of New Jersey’s hottest cover bands, The Joe Baracata Band. Being an avid fan and follower of Joe and the boys, I wanted to dig a little deeper, and share their story with all of the readers in an artist spotlight feature. We chatted about everything from the beginning of this project, to their song arsenal, and everything in between. After reading this, hopefully you will head on out to your local bars, events, or even consider them to play one of your family functions. Check out my interview with Joe Baracata of The Baracata Band below:
Thanks for taking the time, Joe. Tell us a brief history about your band, and how you met.
I started out as an acoustic solo act in 1999-2002. Then went to a trio from 2002-2004 and that’s when my bassist Chris Busk joined the band. Chris and I met through and ad in The Mode. We filled out the lineup over the course of the next few years, with Pat Devenney on drums, Rich Casey “Saxman” on sax, John Sciarappa on keys, and Tony Amodio on guitar and vocals.
Never looking back! Knowing that you used to be in an original band, did you always know you wanted to do covers, or was it a gradual progression?
Actually, I never thought in a million years I would be doing cover music for a living. It was absolutely a gradual progression. I wasn’t the singer in my original band back in the day, or even my first few cover bands. I ended up on vocals by accident thanks to my pals in Rahway, NJ.
Would you say it’s more difficult writing your own songs or learning the craft of other artists’ pieces?
I would have to say writing your own songs is more difficult. I have two original CDs, and they were 1999 and 2009 releases, 10 years apart. I feel if your musicianship is there, the covers come easy. Singing covers can be tricky, though. The key is making the songs fit your voice.
That’s great advice. How do you go about creating your setlists for every show?
This is sort of an ongoing joke. We haven’t had a setlist in years. When you play as much as we do, a setlist can make things stale. I just read the crowd. That always keeps it interesting and spontaneous.
Very true, good point. How many songs do have in the arsenal?
Not really sure. I would guess 200-300, but we usually do 30-50 songs a night.
It’s been very cool to see you guys play with other local cover bands, including acts like Sweet Chin Music who always say they learned from you guys. That must be a rewarding feeling.
It is a very cool feeling to think as a cover band we have influenced other cover bands. Sweet Chin Music are great guys, and they have filled in with us this summer and we had a blast! We are all very fortunate to have a very cool cover band scene in NJ.
Are there any songs that mean more to you than others when performing?
Being a Jersey band, Bruce songs always have the biggest impact and energy when we perform them. I would personally pick “Wrecking Ball” and “The Rising.” Zac Brown songs are great to perform as well. These always change by the year, too. Strangely enough, the key to being a successful cover band with longevity is to not have an attachment to the songs you play. We are there to play what the crowd wants to hear.
You guys play all over the area, tell us about some upcoming gigs and events.
The one gig I’d love to plug is on Oct. 3. We are honored to be playing a fundraiser for “Mary’s Place By The Sea” at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel. Plus, you can always catch us on our home turf in Belmar at the Boathouse Bar And Grill.
You know I will be there! Where can fans go to get in touch with you for bookings?
Be sure to check out the Joe Baracata Band and their upcoming schedule on the website listed above. If you’re into shaking your butt, having a few cold drinks, and letting your hair down for a night, this band is for you!