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Tag Archives: Original Songs

On May 31, I was extremely pleased to play a return gig at the popular Alexandria watering hole, St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub.  With me were Jim Gormley on percussion and Matthew Leonard on bass.  We had a great time playing our mix of pop, country, R&B, and blues – featuring cool original tunes as well as fun covers.  The set included songs recorded by Keith Urban, Tina Turner, The Eagles, LaBelle, Garth Brooks, and Demi Lovato.


A few months ago I had the occasion to travel through Nashville on the way to visit family.  As I was passing through, I decided to take the opportunity to try to get in on the open mic at The Bluebird Cafe.  I’ve heard so much about it ever since I began songwriting.

I’m happy to report that I got there early enough to get in the door and to play.  It was a great experience!  It’s a cozy place, certainly, so you get to look your audience right in the eye.  Obviously, many of the people in attendance are performers and songwriters as well.  That fact, along with the marvelous MC job done by open mic host Barbara Cloyd, creates a welcoming atmosphere.  Better yet!  Because a few folks had left early (before their turn at the mic came), there was extra time.  So Barbara drew two names out of a hat for a second song.  Guess what?  I got to play twice, sharing two of my original tunes!  How cool is that?!

Here’s the craziest part of it all – for me.  You see, my parents were both from the Nashville area.  As a result, I spent almost every Xmas and a week or two every summer visiting thereabouts when I was a kid.  Our home base was always my grandmother’s house.  That house, as it turns out, is a stone’s throw from The Bluebird Cafe!  I kid you not!!  I used to go door-to-door caroling with my uncle’s boyscout troop through that neighborhood!  I used to help my grandmother shop at the grocery store down the street where now a Whole Foods is located.  My grandma is no longer there, and the house doesn’t even look the same.  Still, just being in that neighborhood brought so many memories flooding back.

Of course, all that doesn’t make me a better performer or songwriter.  Ha!  Even so, it sure as heck made my evening singing at The Bluebird Cafe one for reminiscing as well as one to remember.

This is going to be one awesome night of music!

Join Justin Trawick, Joe Peck, Jim Shirey, David Farah, Wes Tucker, Jason Masi, Nita Chawla, Jason Ager, and Joe Rathbone for a rousing evening of outstanding tunes.   Just $10 at the door.  Be there!

Founded in 2008 by singer/songwriter Justin Trawick, “The 9 Songwriter Series”is a touring live music event based in Washington, DC.  Each installment features nine solo singer/songwriters performing in rotation and often sitting in with each other -providing audiences with a rich, intimate, varied listening experience.

Back on Jan. 26, I went to see Justin Trawick share a set at the ever-popular bar and music venue Iota in Arlington.  Thought I’d share a quick report.

Justin is a much sought-after independent singer/songwriter in the DC area for good reason.  First, Justin writes very good music.  You want proof?  His song “All the Places that I’ve Been” got a Silver Award in this year’s Mid-Atlantic Song Contest (which has entries from everywhere, not just the Mid-Atlantic U.S.)   Second, Justin puts together a good set list.  For that you can take my word or – better yet – attend one of his shows to judge for yourself.  But seriously, a good set list is important because any good performer wants to bring the audience along on a musical journey.  Justin does that very well.  Finally, Justin is a good entertainer.  I believe that when a group of people devotes their evening to come see and hear someone share his or her music, an artist needs to bring more to the table than just pretty songs.  Justin has a likeable delivery of between-song chatter that keeps the audience interested, engaged and entertained.

You can find more on Justin by clicking through here — Justin Trawick.  He is also founder, organizer and host of the traveling  “9 Songwriter Series” in which Justin invites 9 songwriters to share a few of their original tunes in a showcase format.  You should check that out too!


As some of you know, I’ve done a bit of song co-writing with some folks I’ve met via the Songwriters Association of Washington (SAW). And those efforts have been good, to be sure. But I still haven’t had the “Wow, that was an absolutely amazing, life-changing song we just wrote” experience.

So when a friend of mine (a fellow performer who does a fair amount of musical theater in our area) approached me to help him write a song honoring his father … I wasn’t all the gung-ho. But he was persistent, and I agreed to meet and begin the process based on his initial draft of a refrain.

His name is George, by the way. George and his wife, Mary, invited me over for dinner and songwriting. Yes, they bribed me with a fine, home-cooked meal. Then they put me to work. But I turned the tables on George. I made our first meeting into a brainstorming session. I asked him question after question after question. I asked him what he wanted the song to look like and what kind of story he wanted to tell. We jotted down his thoughts, memories, feelings, etc. about his father for a couple of hours. At the end, I asked him to tackle a short first verse (knowing full well that it could change later). That was his “homework.” And it was to be the first step toward telling the story he wants to relate about his father. I could have given it a go, of course, but it’s HIS father. You know?

Within an hour after our brain dump, he had completed verse one! Seriously!! Isn’t that great? Of course, there is plenty more to do. But what a super way to begin working together.

And what did I get from all this? Well … a lot. I’ve heard folks say that the best way to learn something is to teach it. And while I wasn’t really teaching as much as facilitating, I’d say that old saying pretty much sums up my “take” from our session. Now I have even more confidence in my own process and abilities – in the knowledge and tools I possess – to help me in my songwriting efforts. So …

Thank you, George! And thank you, Mary, too!! The dinner really WAS very good.

Here it is – the poster for my upcoming gig at St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub in the Delray neighborhood of Alexandria, VA.  This establishment is well-known and well-liked around the area because of it’s good food, good drinks and GOOD MUSIC.  I’ll be doing a mixed set of great popular tunes with some of my own original tunes woven in.  It’ll definitely be a fun evening, and there’s no cover!  With me will be Jim Gormley on percussion and Matthew Leonard on bass.  See you there!!

Hey! I hope everyone had a great New Year’s celebration and that the coming year will bring much happiness and prosperity. This post is to share a quick couple of things:

1. I have an upcoming show on January 12 at 8 p.m. at St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, VA. Please join “Joe Peck & Friends” on a winter Saturday evening at one of the most popular live music venues in the DC area. I’ll be sharing a mix of original and cover tunes joined by Jim Gormley on percussion and Matthew Leonard on bass. St. Elmo’s is located at 2300 Mt. Vernon Ave. There is no cover charge.

2. My Fair Lady at Arena Stage will be coming to a close on 1/6. If you haven’t seen it yet, you have till Sunday evening to get out and see this marvelous production. It really is a great piece of American Musical Theater, and Molly Smith’s deft direction brings a new vibrancy and honesty to all the characters.

Happy New Year!

As a singer/songwriter/performer, I find that I always have a song or two in the queue.  Songs that are begun but only partially finished.

Recently, I had an interesting experience in which I had some songs I was working on — more than two in draft, actually.  I had mapped out the chord progressions and time signatures for two of these songs.  Had a smattering of lyrics for each.  Yet I wasn’t making any progress on either.  I’d pull one out; play through it; ponder it; and put it back away.

Until just the other day.  That’s when I pulled one out.  Made no more progress.  Then I pulled the other one out immediately after.  And suddenly it occurred to me that I should try switching the chord progressions.  You know, take the subject matter/lyrics of one and put it with the other tune.  Guess what?  Yep, you guessed it.  They were much better that way.  And I started making some inroads on them BOTH. 

Isn’t that funny?  I suppose I had them wrong ways around (bass ackwards) from the start.  Glad I pulled them out one right after another, or I may have remained in limbo on writing them for some time to come.  Now I just have to set aside enough time in the schedule to finish them.

Branamir Lokner of Time Machine Music out of Belgrade, Serbia has given my debut album a review.  Below is the English text (translated by TMM).  You can read the original HERE.

Joe Peck is a singer / songwriter and performer from Washington DC. area, active some period on national scene circulation. He debuted with the full-length album, from this 2012 years, entitled “In The City Lights”. He has introduced with 9 equalizing authors tracks. done in a americana, alt. country mood, with clear pop pastiche, and soul and rock includings as well. Joe posses a fine vocal technique, and all of his tunes characterize a brilliant vocalization too. He is also a singer with emotional approach, and most of the present materials has something taken from the past era, and 70′s period as well. I can not compare him with any of well-known or better known artists, and his authors and performing views are original. Maybe his album didn’ t cover a so call hittish materials or one more or less “attractive” song, but generally, all of present themes posses a radio friendly usings. “In The City Lights” deserve a repeatable listenings, especially if you are a fan of mentioned genre’s variants.

Rating was a 7.5 out of 10.  Not too bad for my first album, I think!

Anyone who has visited this blog in the past year has heard (seen) me talk about my debut CD – Joe Peck: In The City Lights.

Well, it has taken several months longer than I anticipated.  But I think the wait was well worth it.  The CD is ready and available and – dare I say it – in release.  You can buy it using this link at CDBaby as an mp3 album.  Awesome!!

It’ll be available in disc form shortly – as soon as the mail gets them to Oregon.  Of course, you can always buy a disc at one of my shows.  And if you don’t dig CD Baby, the album will be up at myriad other retailers (iTunes, Amazon, etc.) soon. 

Here’s a little info about the CD –

Genres:  Americana Rock/Country Pop
In Brief:  This debut album is a meaty musical stew of rock, country, blues, folk and pop spiced liberally with outstanding vocals, unforgettable hooks, and alternately fun and deeply poignant lyrics.