There & Back Again
Local Musician Releases Debut CD By Ryan Sobel Statesman Editor SUNY Stony Brook On Sunday, September 23, the quaint Espresso Café in the Stony Brook Borders Books and Music was magically transformed and jam-packed for a rock and roll celebration. The celebration was in honor of 27-year-old singer/songwriter Johnny Cuomo, a local musical phenom who was promoting the release of his debut effort, There and Back Again. What, you have never heard of him? Oh, believe me, you will. In fact, Cuomo already has a substantial backing of family and friends that are determined to get him his deserved recognition. The new CD serves not only as a professional step forward for his career, but also a testament to the all the hard work Cuomo feeds into his music. After realizing his true passion for music in his late teens, Cuomo he began to hone his skills as a lead singer and guitarist for the rock band Voice of the Turtle. During his college years in Maynooth College in Ireland, however, Cuomo was highly influenced by a more traditional Irish sound. He formed the band Gallowglass, which focused mainly on his desire to explore traditional Irish music. Today, Cuomo's musical style has flourished into one that has fused modern folk rock with an innovative Irish twist. If a comparison is necessary, imagine David Gray singing a Bob Dylan tune. Being the consummate musician that he is, Cuomo is not the type of entertainer that will stand in front of a microphone strumming out aimless chords on an acoustic guitar. He constantly aims to dazzle by showing off his other musical exploits. For instance, Cuomo plays bass guitar, harmonica, tenor banjo, Irish flute, and mandolin. Pretty impressive, to say the least. With percussionist Jerry Arias keeping the beat, There and Back Again artfully showcases Cuomo's diverse influences and talents, providing listeners with a ground-breakingly unique musical experience. The disc opens with he enchanting track 'Half Time.' The initial parade of drums eases the listener into a moody guitar that establishes an aquatic, sea-faring feel. The melody is addictive in it's impressive blending of high and low tones, foreshadowing an artist who plays beyond his years. The title track, 'There and Back Again,' is the only one of it's kind on the album, offering a more hardcore taste of traditional cheery Irish beats. It truly makes one wish Michael Flatley would jump out and do an Irish step dance to it. 'Fear the Nightshift,' on the other hand, takes a more folksy twist allowing Cuomo's inimitable vocals to shine alone. The acoustic guitar and snare drum combination has a glaring effect creating the insatiable urge to bob one's head along with the beat. Cuomo's short but sweet harmonica solo modestly adds another textured layer to the song. The discs featured track seems to be the fascinating 'Modern Waste,' which has more of a Brit rock sound reminiscent of Oasis or even the Beatles. The song marks a level of musical and lyrical maturity that signifies Cuomo's worthiness of being a household name. The pulsating choral arrangement exposes the catchiness of the tune and the reality of the lyrics. If you are tired of hearing songs on the radio that all seem to sound the same, your cure may lie in Long Island's own multitalented singer/songwriter, Johnny Cuomo. Now, fresh off the release of his debut CD There and Back Again, Cuomo's popularity is rising faster than the stepping in Lord of the Dance. BIO Johnny Cuomo, is a folk-flavored acoustic roots artist, with influences in rock and traditional Irish music. His 'Dylanesque' voice follows the tradition of Roger McGuinn and Tom Petty, in capturing the essential emotion of the American musical spirit from it's core beginnings to present. From his rock band, Voice of the Turtle, in the 90's, to his immersion into the Irish music scene, up to present, Johnny's musical style has flourished into one that fuses modern folk rock with an innovative Irish twist. Johnny's most current release, American Idle,(2007) can be found on the Paradiddle Records label, as well as Johnny's version of Boots of Spanish Leather on Paradiddle's 2006 compilation release, Bob Dylan Uncovered.