For the last few years I have had the unique opportunity to cover music of many genres, at many venues, with both up and coming artists, and those national acts that are hitting the billboards. The one thing I notice about all the artists I cover? They love what they do and they love the audiences they play to. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small pub or a large stadium, the music is still the same and the passion behind it as well. What I have noticed is that some however tend to stand out more than others. Some just have a special quality to them that catch my attention and pique my curiosity. There’s something that sets them apart from the rest. A uniqueness that makes them shine a tiny bit more than the next star. Billy Lord fits this description.
Beginning his career in the music business mid-life, Billy Lord has become an inspiration to those who have always wanted to follow their dream, but let life and responsibility hold them back. What makes Billy unique is that he is not your typical musician. Working in New York City as a media executive for more than 15 years, Billy found himself without a job when his company eliminated his position. Down on his luck with nothing to lose, Billy took that leap of faith to pursue his dream. How many of us have a dream we would pursue…if only we won the lottery!!!! For Billy, he just went for it. The courage it took, and the passion he puts in to his music and song writing, is what makes Billy Lord my Artist To Check Out this month.
When I was introduced to Billy at his opening show at Toby Keith’s in Syracuse, I was extremely impressed by how passionate he was about his music and achieving this dream. Sharing a little of his back story with me, I could tell that this gentleman truly loved what he was doing and how fortunate he was to do it. I find of those in the business that have been able to pursue it as their career, when asked, they all would still do it, even if they weren’t getting paid. They do it for the love of it, not for the pay. For those lucky enough to begin their musical journey right out of the gate? Well, they never had a Plan B in place. It was only music. For Billy though, he started his journey after an original career didn’t work out. How lucky for us life threw him a curveball. Billy writes all his own music and lyrics. Making his performances standout that much more.
He has assembled some of the most talented musicians to surround him bringing out the best of all his music, and their chemistry is spot on. With Amos Sanfilippo on guitar, Colin Boughton on drums, Patrick Dowd on keyboards, and Roger Monteiro on bass, Billy’s band brings to his music a distinctive country rock sound that is unique even in the ever-changing country music scene today. Another thing I like about Billy is how he gives those locals a chance to sit in and join him on stage to showcase his music alongside.
I had a moment to speak with Billy to find out a little about him in his own words.
Kathy Stockbridge: How long have you been performing?
Billy Lord: Only about three years. To me, becoming a true top-tier stage performer is the next step on my evolutions an artist. Songwriting and guitar came first, then I worked on becoming a vocalist. Now in really learning the ropes of getting a crowd on their feet.
KS: How would you categorize your music…country…rock…?
BL: I always consider my music “American music,” though recently its leaning heavily toward modern country. Fans will hear that with the next album. Very country radio friendly stuff.
KS: What musicians have inspired you to this style you have created?
BL: Kid Rock, Bob Seger, Tom Petty and most recently Brantley Gilbert and Jason Aldean. But, I try not to listen to other people’s music too much because I never want to be derivative. I always want to be mine. Rock a Billy, if you will.
KS: Was this just a hobby ever or did you do it as a second job before?
BL: This was passion born out of losing everything… My career, my home, and my money. Music saved me during a very difficult time in 2009, when I was working homeless in NYC. It started as a way to keep me sane during a dark time. I didn’t look at it as a career until 2012. When I knew it was going to be my life, I quit my part-time jobs and gave myself to music fully. Jump and the net will open.
KS: What was your day job prior to this?
BL: I was a marketing manager in newspaper publishing for 15 successful years.
KS: How did that job end?
BL: I was laid off with several other managers when the economy hit the wall and the Great Recession took hold.
KS: How did you know that this is the direction you needed to go?
BL: When I was working homeless, I was unloading trucks at night and I’d get out at 3am and nowhere to go. I had an old guitar that I’d never learned to play. It was my last material possession. So when I got off work, I started teaching myself to play. Almost immediately I started hearing songs… Pure fits of inspiration, it was cathartic for me. But I really knew it was the right direction, when I got radio play on Z100 two days after recording my first demo. To me, it was a sign to keep going. And I have no plans to stop. There is no Plan B.
KS: Have you written all your life or is it something you just picked up as life went on?
BL: The funny thing is… My whole life I never knew I had this talent. And if I hadn’t been fired, I would have never known.
KS: Where do you get your inspiration for writing songs?
BL: I get asked this often because I’m such a prolific songwriter… And I tell people it’s like I have a radio station in my head. I hear full songs. Most recently, I’ve fallen in love, so that station is tuned in to the sound of endless summers and new love. I think listeners will live the new songs.
KS: What has been your support system throughout this venture?
BL: I’ve been very fortunate to have extremely supportive fans. The first two albums were crowd funded and our upcoming tour will be as well. I also have a few angels on my shoulder looking out for me.
KS: How did you assemble your band…what were you looking for? How long have you played together?
BL: Only a few months. My drummer Colin Boughton and keyboardist Patrick Dow and I have known each other since we were kids. We played little league baseball together. They both chose music and have been playing their whole lives while I pursued a business career. They were there ready to go when I needed a band. My guitarist, Amos Sanfillipo was a family friend and has had a long, successful career touring with major bands, and Roger Montiero, and amazing bass player with a similar touring career was suggested by Amos. We’re a motley, funny bunch. But we’re hard workers too.
KS: What is your advice to those that may be afraid of taking that step towards achieving their dreams?
BL: If you want to be something, give your self to it one hundred percent. Become it. Believe in yourself when others don’t, which will be always.
KS: Where can our readers see you in your tour?
BL: Our 2015 National Anthem US Tour dates are posted at www.reverbnation.com/billylord
While most new artists tend to perform 95% covers, slipping in a few of their own tunes, you find that Billy does the opposite. Billy’s set features the majority of his own music, rocking the crowd with his own sound, only to use the covers as exclamation points on his set list.
I highly recommend you taking the time to check out Billy at one of his live shows. His live show is worth the drive. For those in the Central NY area, Billy will be playing in Vernon this Saturday the 21st at The Stampede Steakhouse.
I see so many wonderful artists….but sometimes there’s just something unique that makes an artists stand out. Can’t pinpoint it to just one thing with Billy, Perhaps it’s the combination of his inspirational story, mixed with his prolific songwriting, and the energetic live show that makes him stand out. Whatever it is though, his unique style is what makes Billy Lord my Artist To Check Out this month. Not coming to a venue near you? Don’t fret you can purchase his recent album at www.reverbnation.com/billylord. From what I understand, the next one is right on the horizon!