By Faith Parker
Early Wednesday morning, November 2nd, I sat down for an online, chat room interview with an old friend and musician, Ciro Patti. Several years ago I worked with Patti at the local Dairy Queen, making ice cream. I can remember the days when the aspiring musician would come to work with his guitar strapped across his shoulder and be prepared to play his guitar to pass time during the day’s lulls. There is nothing that Patti wouldn’t sing about.
Patti, a resident of Wantage New Jersey, has had a passion for music his whole life. He is a multitalented musician who sings and knows how to play both the drums and guitar. This thirty one year old musician has only been playing the guitar for seven years, but has been a drummer for the past twenty. Patti is well known around Sussex County for his performances at local bars and pubs and is also a frequent performer at “The Back Fence” in New York City. He has also performed with Stroudsburg favorite Zac Lawless at “Fireman Dan’s Sportsbar” in Sussex, NJ.
He welcomed my chat room entrance with the welcoming greeting “LE FAITH!”; an old joke between Patti and I. After taking a few short minutes to catch up, I began my interview with Patti about his life and journey as a musician:
Q: When did you realize that you could sing?
A: I didn’t really understand the connection of singing and play instruments until I started working in a bar that featured karaoke. One night I got up on a dare and sang “Unchained Melody” by the righteous bros. People were stunned by my vocals, as was I. Ever since then I took singing seriously.
Q: What types of music do you perform?
A: I like to play music of all genres. Usually my performances in clubs feature music that is not my own, so I like to be well versed in all music. My favorite has to be heartfelt singer songwriter style, where the emotional connection to the lyrics and power of the vocal is clearly present; so like acoustic solo artists, classic rock, and contemporary alternative stuff.
Q: What made you choose a career in music over using your Bachelor’s degree in English?
A: I think choosing a career in music has a better reward in it for me. I’ve never been a money chaser or someone who answers well to higher ups like supervisors or bosses. It was not the easiest choice to make because work is not guaranteed and there are no benefits, pensions, vacations, etc. when it comes to performing. Doing what you love on a daily/nightly basis has been more rewarding than I could ever fathom. I can always be a teacher; old, wise, and cynical, but the tough lifestyle of a musician is worth it for me.
Q: Do you write your own stuff? Do you think that your education in creative writing helps to make song writing easier or give you an advantage over other song writers?
A: I do write my own material, and having a background of English and creative writing is a big help for me. It opened my eyes to the beauty of language, the rhythm, and its felicitous intent. Before I started writing songs and really understanding my musical gifts, I wanted to write poetry, novels, and essays to influence people any way I could. I was lucky to win an international writing award in 2000 for outstanding achievements in poetry, and to carry that over into lyrics for songs has been easy, and difficult at times, but I value the education I recieved from the books, novels, poems and masterpieces I studied.
Q: What is an average week like for you, performance schedule wise?
A: An average week is usually four shows; it can be as many as seven or eight if I play two in one day. I’m lucky to have a consistent schedule of shows that repeats on a weekly basis so four shows is average–two or three in NYC, and one or two in NJ.
Q: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
A: Five years from now I’d like to think that it has taken me somewhere. It’s funny the idea of five years and commitment is something I ponder all the time. The last 5 years I have laid the platform for my musical strength and confidence, like a career! Also, simultaneously I have been madly in love with my family relationship, so the next five years offer real magic. I’d like to have an album of my own recorded, a web site, and new places to perform and share what I love. Also, marriage is a clear yes!
Q: What does music mean to you?
A: Music is everything to me: breath, nourishment, water, air, love, sex, pain, death, life, tears, security, and family. It is absolute, uncanny, and sublime. I knew at a young age its importance and relevance in my life; I can never be without it. It is my love, my life, everything. And being a musician brings it all full circle; I get to share the single most important thing I love with everyone else in this world.
Q: What has been the hardest part about been a musician in a sea of so many artists?
A: I try not to compare myself to other artists in this sea of many, but to answer the question; it’s hard to watch people react to what they like. People like artists who are already like other artists, cookie cutter, or prefabricated ideas, and I don’t want to end up like them. That’s the hardest part, keeping my artist-self true and unabashed, real and unplanned.
Q: What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
A: To aspiring musicians I have only to say stay keep pushing, and do it because you love it not for fame or popularity. Not everyone is a star, or great; greatness is measured by those who abandon the notion of their own. Also, don’t imitate any one else’s individuality, create your own.