May 03, 2006
Singing A North Fork Song
By Lisa Finn
Mattituck resident Glenn Jochum began singing when he was only three years old. "My earliest memory was wandering Sunken Meadow Beach lost, singing 'Unchained Melody'" he said.
But, although he may have been lost at the time, the little boy had found his true calling. And recently, Jochum celebrated the release of his upcoming CD at the Floyd Memorial Library in Greenport.
From his earliest days, Jochum knew he was born to perform. "I learned harmony somehow singing hymns at church," he said.
My Vacation is not Jochum's first album, but it is the first recorded in Southold. Jochum's music is "folk-rock tinged with Caribbean at times, laced with blues, or flavored with the mountain streams I have slept by and the hemlocks that sheltered me." Such poetry is the stuff with which Jochum's magic is made: He released his CD On The Beach in 1999 and Nasty Weather in 2003.
Jochum, a writer/editor for Stony Brook University, spends his days involved with promotional literature and reportage for University publications. But in his blood lies the passion that inspires dreams.
When he got his start in a band in 1973, Jochum was the lead singer and guitarist. "I got my first Yamaha guitar from a former girlfriend that year and began writing songs," he said.
And, even while pulling a stint in the Navy, he continued with songwriting.
Eventually, Jochum co-founded a band called Walking Shoes in 1988 with Steve McCarthy, with whom he still plays on the vineyard circuit today, in an acoustic classic rock band called Inner Sleeve.
Other musical credits include time spent playing with a band called Blind Justice in 1991, which featured half the members from Walking Shoes. In 1993, Jochum met Steve Sacher, of Southold, and the duo formed Four Directions that became The Glenn Jochum Band.
In 2003, the performer fused a new band that morphed into Inner Sleeve.
North Fork residents might be familiar with Jochum from his performances with Southold singer/guitarist Rick Hall at libraries, cafes, and vineyards.
Jochum has also played with his sister's "power trio" Begonia, an Albany band.
For My Vacation, Jochum said he availed himself of a handful of Southold musicians, as well as four musicians from the Albany area.
"It is incredibly important to be happy with your recording engineer and person who mixes for you," said Jochum, adding that Southold resident Dan Keeley, "was a joy to work with." He said, "He is patient, open to getting things as right as they can sound, and has a fine ear." Jochum said the most difficult thing about producing a CD independently is raising the funds.
The joy, however, comes from writing lyrics that touch the heart. "I generally write about what gives me pleasure or pain. I look to the natural world for answers and healing. I look to correct what is wrong with society or to point out what is beautiful about life, to paraphrase photojournalist Lewis Hine," he said.
Based on its wayfaring name, Jochum said his new CD features a lot of songs about travel. Jochum said his journeys to Alaska, Ireland, and Costa Rica have all had their own amazing adventures. "A dream vacation would be an obscure island in the Pacific where no one has tested any bombs," he said, adding that France is on his must-see list.
Every performer gleans inspiration from the greats, and Jochum credits "everyone from Hank Williams to the Beatles" for fueling his creative fire. He also loves Motown and soul. "Ballads get to me," he said, "with the Moody Blues particular favorites."
He says he has been compared to Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, and Jimmy Buffett at times.
The performer, who has lived on the North Fork since 1982, was born in Amityville and spent years as a journalist and photojournalist.
In the future, Jochum would like to record an acoustic CD with his sister, Beth. And, he'd also like to continue to explore different sounds and instruments. On past CDs, he has experimented with a saxophone, a violin, and a Chinese fiddle.
The opening this past weekend meant everything to Jochum. "I finally got to do an encore after all of these years," he said. "The Floyd Memorial Library and Poppy Johnson are great. They support independent and original art. They totally get it."
No matter how far he travels on future vacations, he'll carry a song in his heart. "This is the greatest release I know of. The purest connection to a higher place. I am happiest when singing."
This summer, look for Jochum at the Jamesport Vineyards, Harbes Family Farm, Peconic Winery, Route 48 Winery, Osprey's Dominion, in Montauk at the Chamber of Commerce summer series, and at Stony Brook's University Cafe on May 18 at 7 p.m. with Rick Hall.