Joe Mystery

Smokestack Lightnin' Home Page -- The Blues Profile Page

He is such a MYSTERY, I can't find a photo of him.

Joe Mystery - I started with the blues as a young teenager sneaking into New York City to see many of the seminal blues-rock acts of the late 60′s and early 70′s. At that time, the mecca of hip music was the Fillmore East. Fillmore concerts by Johnny Winter and Steve Miller Blues Band were peak experiences. In fact, I still have vivid memories of Johnny and Edgar Winter on stage.

The Wollman Rink, an outdoor venue in Central Park, was another great bastion of blues and rock. On consecutive summer weeks, Alvin Lee with Ten Years After and Led Zeppelin/B.B. King tore my mind wide open. Seeing Alvin Lee, Jimmy Page, B.B. King and Johnny Winter within a period of a year and a half was a profound experience. At that point, the die was cast toward music and the guitar, in particular. And practicing, lessons and writing were a constant.

The show rolled on with more great bands, guitarists and concerts: the Rolling Stones with Mick Taylor, the Doors with Robbie Krieger, Savoy Brown with Kim Simmonds and New York’s own Blues Project with Danny Kalb. John Mayall and Clapton with Cream also were heavy in the mix.

My focus on all the bands and players I have mentioned eventually led to interest in the great artists who had influenced them, particularly Muddy Waters and Willie Dixon. It all made me very serious about blues and music, in general.

Fast forward to Wicked Town and what you see and hear is the distillation of all the blues (concerts, records, players) I have seen and heard- especially influences from my early days of wonderment. It’s a personal journey and the story goes on for now.

I started out playing an “air guitar” just like everybody. Holding a real Gibson or Fender or Parker Fly guitar is a privilege in my book, one I will never take for granted.

Rock and Roll History

Early Days

In 1979, Joe formed the eponymous Joe Mystery Group teaming with singer Emilio Reeves (a.k.a. “The Greatest Actor in Rock and Roll”), Jeff “Sticks Mandalay” Kelly on drums, bassist, Martin Matousek, and Eastman School of Music alumni, Tom Forson on keys. Live appearances followed at such well known NYC venues as CBGBs, Kenny’s Castaways and The Other End. The high artistic water mark for the Mystery Band was to come later, however, with the development of the genre bending, anti-Nazi music video, “Nazis in New Jersey.” This “video fable” spun out of Joe’s song of the same name and provided a vehicle to allow Emilio Reeves to use his considerable acting skills and presence. Produced by Joe Mystery, Emilio Reeves and band manager, J. Miklos (a.k.a “the Brain from Planet Pittsburg”), “Nazis” was a true tabloid rock epic filmed in and around New York and New Jersey in three days on a large budget for an upstart band, the sum of $10,000. A garage band self-promotional masterpiece for its time, the ending of “Nazis” is possibly one of the more unrivaled vignettes ever filmed by a rock group, anywhere or anytime. By 1983, Joe Mystery Group had achieved notoriety (and some degree of cult status) through airing of “Nazis in New Jersey” on Canadian, South American and NYC cable TV. However, when the nascent MTV turned down the “Nazis” video, Joe Mystery Group (at that time, Mystery and Reeves) disbanded.

Middle Years

In 1985, Joe built and opened OmniMix Studio, one of the first home-based New Jersey recording facilities. Clientele ranged from the US Postal Service to master jazz guitarist, Jack DeSalvo (Ronald Shannon Jackson, D3) . In 1994, Joe appeared on the cable TV show, PowerPlay, again with Emilio Reeves in house. Four years later in 1998, Joe teamed with lead singer, Controlio DeSalvo, and bassist, Michael Lanni, to form the King Lizards and released the CD, Mondo Lizardo. Some of Joe’s best playing from that era can be found on this CD.

In 2001, a reemergence of Joe Mystery Group occurred serendipitously when five Joe Mystery songs were voted #1 in the Classic Rock category on Sony AcidPlanet, an influential artist showcase site. This led, in 2002, to release of a compilation album, Classic Rock for the New Millennium, containing such seminal original tracks as “Lets Go Insane,” “Desert Storm” and “Mothman.” The album continues to be available around the Internet at CD Baby and other sites.

Recent History

In 2010, Joe worked as a session player on a studio project with Hip Hop pioneer Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC. In 2011, Joe appeared as a guest soloist on the independent release, “Ripped,” with original Mystery band drummer, Sticks Kelly. In July of 2012, Controlio Walleone released the album, Engine of the Gods (see News link for further details), once again in collaboration with Joe Mystery.

Joe blues album, Wicked Town, was recently released in April 2013 and the album has been received favorably. So get ready to rock it down with more great Mystery original music.

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