July 8, 2020

Pursuing a Passion for Music with Justin Honigstein

Pursuing a Passion for Music with Justin Honigstein

What does it actually look like to pursue a passion for music? Listen to Justin's story about scrapping together gigs, finding a community, landing steady stand-ins, and all of the challenges and successes along the way. We also explore SoFar Sounds, an intimate music experience in over 400 cities and growing, and learn about Justin's newest project to bring musicians together in the Charlotte area. Full of applicable lessons to any craft, this conversation will inspire beginners to take the first step and the experienced to master their art form.

Guest Bio: In high school, Justin sang in the choir and the a-cappela group. At Bucknell, he joined and led an A Cappela group and sang in a shitty cover band, while he majored in business and went on to work a sales job after school. A year later, he moved to Chicago to focus on music full time - he started writing music, started a rock band, played weddings, corporate gigs and proposals. Justin was paying the bills through tutoring, substitute teaching, playing weddings and other hired gigs. Then, he was lucky enough to come across a great opportunity in Charlotte.

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Bagel: [00:00:00] Hey, it's Bagel. Thanks for tuning into this episode of the Live Your Values podcast. In this interview, Justin Honigstein gives us a glimpse of a life as a musician. I loved this conversation because Justin gives us an open and honest account of the challenges and successes he's encountered in his early career. From how he got started singing with acapella groups to performing solo gigs, five nights a week in Chicago. We also talk about what I think is one of the coolest, hidden gems in the music world and learn about Justin's newest project to bring musicians together in the Charlotte area. Full of applicable lessons to any craft, this conversation will inspire beginners to take the first step and the experience to master their art form. Pour yourself a nice brew and let's dive into episode seven of the Live Your Values podcast.

Welcome to the Live Your Values podcast. I'm your host Mike Bagel. Today I'm beyond excited to welcome our guest for today's episode, Justin Honigstein. In high school. Justin sang in the choir and the acapella group. At Bucknell, he joined and led an acapella group and sang in a shitty cover band while he majored in business and went on to work a sales job after school. A year later, he moved to Chicago to focus on music full time. He started writing music, started a rock band, played at weddings, corporate gigs and proposals. Justin was paying the bills through tutoring, substitute teaching, playing weddings, and other hired gigs. Then he was lucky enough to come across a great opportunity here in Charlotte that he will be sharing with us today and talking to us about a little bit.

So first off, welcome to the show, Justin. Yeah. So just for full context, I thought I would share that we met at one of Justin's performances here in Charlotte at, So Far Sounds show a couple months ago. And, maybe we'll talk a little bit about that and what that is here in a bit, but Justin is a great musician and, was really happy to meet him and learn a little bit about what you're working on. So, yeah. So tell us a little bit about what brought you to Charlotte. Since we got a little bit of your journey in the bio there. Tell us what brought you here and kind of what you're working on.

Justin: [00:02:21] Great. So believe it or not, I'm working for a storage company here in Charlotte. We have a lot of locations around the country, but they had the idea. They've had some bands playing in their storage units, many storage units, which are kind of like, you know, just metal boxes. and there seems to be a need for space for musicians to play. So it's going to be the first go around for a Morningstar storage. We're starting their storage company and they have some arenas as well, but it's gonna be our first stab at music rehearsal spaces. So. We're actually, as we speak, finishing up the construction side of things. We've got 12 rooms that are soundproof doors are going to be hung, hopefully this week, painting very soon. So the idea there is to get some musicians in there practicing, get some teachers giving lessons. And there's a nice big open space too, that we can do a lot of things with.

Bagel: [00:03:21] Yeah, that's awesome. It's such a cool concept. And it's kind of crazy to think, like, you know, that you don't see this a lot. Like it's not something I've seen in other places. So when you were telling me about it at first, I was like, that's a pretty awesome idea and a cool way to bring musicians together. I know you're kind of probably focused more on like the building out aspect of things right now, but how has the networking been going in terms of meeting other musicians or getting some interest in all that?

Justin: [00:03:47] Yeah. So obviously with what's going on right now, people are probably not super ready to be doing the shared space thing.

Bagel: [00:03:57] Yeah. Understandable.

Justin: [00:03:59] I don't have any like, I would say like hard yeses from people. I haven't really gotten into those kind of conversations, but have been, definitely had some conversations with some great people in town. I've just been lucky enough to get introduced to someone from Chicago. Honestly, I was walking out the door of the building I used to live in, moving out and someone was like, Oh, where are you going? I said, Charlotte. And she said, my son's best friend is there. And he works for a record company. but it wasn't a record company. He works for East Coast Entertainment, which is this huge booking agency ended up getting lunch with him. Adam. Adam Farber and his brother Reed Farber. And the brother actually just built, helped build Middle C, jazz club in uptown Charlotte. Which is like the only jazz…

Bagel: [00:04:43] Yeah.

Justin: [00:04:43] Charlotte, which is like the only jazz club in Charlotte. So it hadn't launched with them and they're great people and seem to be super into the community. They've had some other people that I need to reach out or I have reached out to. So, I am getting my feet wet a little bit, you know, expanding the circle.

Bagel: [00:04:58] For sure. Yeah. It sounds like it I'm sure. As soon as I asked that question, I realized, yeah, it's probably been pretty tough considering we've been quarantined now, if it's at the time of recording this for about two months or so. But that's awesome. I've heard about middle C. My girlfriend and I were just talking kind of before this all went down a couple of months ago that we really wanted to go check it out. We heard some really good things, so, yeah. That's

Justin: [00:05:21] I want it to go well.

Bagel: [00:05:23] Yeah I know it's like, you kind of cross your fingers for these businesses to be able to hold on right now. So that there's yeah, so that there's some community and  some experiences that we can come back and have after this is all said and done. What are your thoughts on, on that, sort of the music community and like, are there going to be concerts still when, when we're allowed back out in public?

Justin: [00:05:46] It's funny. For me, when we get to this topic, it almost gets political right away, you know? But, I am I'm feeling, I think amongst the people I talk to on the cautious side of things, if it were up to me. So I know like you think about going to the Neighborhood Theater or like The evening Muse and like, how is that going to work in the next, you know, six months? Who knows though, right? Who knows what's going to happen with the vaccine? You know, we could get really good at the social distinct thing. Right. We could really figure out a staggered two, one, two type pattern where you're getting six feet, but it's, you know, it's going to be for like a music venue you're going to get what 10, 15% capacity at most.

Bagel: [00:06:30] Right.  Yeah. It's sad to think. Like how, how technical do you have to get and how much  enforcement and security do you have to get for an indoor music venue to really be able to implement social distancing measures, to allow for that to happen. And it's like, Is that the same experience? Like I can't, I can only imagine there's so many sides of this, but I can only imagine from the performer side too. It's like, what would it feel like to play to a room that's supposed to be for a thousand then there's like 50 people there. I mean, you know, is it worth it?

Justin: [00:07:04] This is my first time really thinking about what it would truly look like to have people come back in. Like, you know, you can come in with like a partner or something and you get like a circle on the floor. Or like, I don't know, but it is you're right. There's millions of people who are affected really strongly  and the small to midsize touring musician is really having a hard time for sure. Because 99% of their income is off of ticket sales.

Bagel: [00:07:38] Yeah, for sure. It's gotta be so tough. I mean, there are so many. Affected, now that I'm thinking about it, like for real, there's probably so many people affected by this. It's just like they're ripples and waves throughout the industry. I mean, obviously the performers is like the first people you think of and like yourself, like making sure that people have the opportunity to do this. Not even necessarily just to earn a living, but to like do the thing that they care about the most. Right. To like be able to perform. So, and, I'm probably going to go out of order. So I'm just going to roll with things because it's kind of where the conversation is going. So what ways have you found that you're supplementing being able to perform right now with not being able to do so much in public?

Justin: [00:08:24] Yeah. I miss it for sure. We can start with that. I've been my friend from college had this great idea to put together a battle. He calls it Battle of the Broadband's. So, online, he got he's I think he's done three now. They've done three now. Where it's for bands, nice format. He introduces everyone for five minutes on a Saturday night. So it starts at eight o'clock first bands out on there by eight,  like timeframe a little bit shorter though 15 minutes, two minute break, 15 minutes, two minute break. and then people voted at the end and, earnings were  split up that way, like one through three.

And part of it went to, COVID music relief fund, or I forget what the name of the organization is now, but it's a really good fund. It's like, it's always helping musicians. So that was fun. I did two of those one was lucky enough to win the first one. So he called me back for the second one.

Bagel: [00:09:18] There you go. Congrats. Nice.

Justin: [00:09:20] Thank you.  What else? I was hired by like a pay pay-per-view radio station TV, broadcasting network based out of Virginia. So I recorded like an hour show for them that they aired live, which was fun.

Bagel: [00:09:37] Yeah, that's cool.

Justin: [00:09:40] Then bouncing like some recordings back and forth with some friends, you know, in other parts of the country

Bagel: [00:09:48] Yeah.

Justin: [00:09:49] Trying to learn some new stuff on the guitar, but no real performances.

Bagel: [00:09:54] Yeah. Yeah, it's hard. I mean, even the Battle of the Broadbands thing is a really cool idea. Now I'm remembering, I think I saw you posting about it somewhere or at least one of them. So I got to jump on that, but, it's gotta  be tough. I, it's funny. I think you're probably right that a lot of musicians are maybe going into the practice mode and, you know, reworking songs, creating some new material and  probably just like waiting for the day that they can start to perform more.

But you did mention SoFar sounds and I know I mentioned that that's kind of a, that's how we met. Do you want to share, since I know it's not necessarily secretive, but there's an aspect to it that is sort of secretive. And so do you want to share with our listeners kind of what that's about?

Justin: [00:10:38] Yeah, definitely. It's funny because I tell people, they're like, Oh, when's your next show? And I was like, well, we have a SoFar show next week. and then I ended up, you know, explaining what that is 80% of the time. Cause people, not everyone, not everyone knows what it is. So I I've joked with my former band members that I could give the opening interest speech at SoFar with my eyes closed or whatever, I've done it a million times. We've yeah, we've heard it. You know, so my band, Honeystone was the band you talked about me starting in Chicago, and it was a massive part of our experience as a Chicago band. We ended up developing a good relationship with them and played a lot of shows. Yeah. But let me start from the top. Two guys,  Rocco and Rafi, this is how they usually start the spiel, to a concert. And it was too loud and people were spilling drinks on them and they're like, this isn't what music is about. So they had a show in their living room and they were like, well, let's run with this. So they started putting on intimate shows in London, and now they're in 400 cities around the world doing that. So the idea is you as a fan, you buy tickets to see a show. You don't know anything other than that, it's near the Plaza, Midwood blue line stop or something, some intersection or neighborhood until the day before you show up, you know, you're going to see three artists. The day before they sent an email being like it's at this brewery or it's at this barbershop or it's at this person's apartment.

Bagel: [00:12:09] Right. Yeah.

Justin: [00:12:11] And then you go and see three bands. And for me as an artist, we always get to see two really awesome acts. And then we get to play for an audience that is there solely to see music. They, a lot of the times you're like sitting on the ground, just quietly listening to music. It's the best audience you can ask for. So, Yeah. And then you get the opportunity to talk to people like yourself. That was, you know, that's not going to happen at every show you do. We were able to talk, not an intermission right. At the end, after all the acts.

Bagel: [00:12:41] Yeah, it goes right before we left, we were, we like called our lyft and I was like, wait, I don't want to go say hi to this guy.

Justin: [00:12:47] I'm very glad you did.

Bagel: [00:12:48] Yeah.

Justin: [00:12:49] But yeah, that's a big part of it. So you don't have to wear earplugs. You don't have to worry about your ears getting blown out by the bass drum and everything. So we played probably 25 of those shows, 30 of those shows in Chicago. And we met so many cool people and had so many cool fans who then ended up coming to our full band shows when we were playing with electric guitars and full drum kits. So they're like, I didn't, I don't know if I mentioned their strip stripped down. So generally you won't have full drum kit. You'll do some kind of acoustics style set.

Bagel: [00:13:21] Right. Yeah. That's, it's such a cool concept. My girlfriend originally found out about it and I think we'd been to three so far. Didn't you mean for that pun to happen. Yeah, we've been to three of those shows and yeah. And that's just the aspect of, you know, it almost at first, to be honest, it sounded almost like a little not cheesy, but it was like, Oh really? Like you're going to hide where the show is at until the last day. It was almost like, really like, is it just trying to be cool? But it actually is awesome. Like from my own experience, I can say like, I've been to summit breweries and I've been to one that was like in a deli. I still have yet to go to one that's been in someone's apartment or house. And I would love to go to one of those shows. I don't know if they're, well, obviously right now they're not happening, but I don't, I don't know if Charlotte was as big on that. Just the idea that it's, that it's meant to be a more intimate setting. And really there's such a difference in like going to a show, like you said, when you're where your ears are getting blown out and people are spilling their drinks all over you. And like, there's fun to be had at those kinds of shows for sure. But this is a whole different type of experience. It almost feels like it's, the focus is really on the music and on the performer. And it's meant to, for the audience and the performer to be able to connect, which I think is so cool.

Justin: [00:14:36] Yup. That's exactly right. You know, we walk it, walk out of there with 10 new Instagram followers at a minimum every time. Which is like, what more can you ask for as an  upcoming band is to get some people who are gonna follow you for the next couple of weeks or months or years.

Bagel: [00:14:50] Yeah. And we'll put  in the show notes, we'll put some links. I believe it's a, is it so far sounds.com I think is the website.

Justin: [00:14:58] If you searched so far sounds, I'm sure you'd be able to figure it out on the old internet.

Bagel: [00:15:03] Yup. For sure. And like you said, about 400 cities and growing. And, you know, even though right now, we're not able to do much in person. I know they have the Listening Room where they're featuring different artists, right, kind of every day?

Justin: [00:15:16] Right. That's it. I haven't even really delved into that. Olivia was telling me, when are you going to, when are you going to play one of those? And I was like,

Bagel: [00:15:23] Yeah. I was wondering the same thing once Justin to get up on the Listening Room?

Justin: [00:15:28] I'll, after we hang up or after we end this call ,go reach out to them and I'll let you know.

Bagel: [00:15:33] All right. Awesome. Thanks for kind of sharing that experience. I think it's really cool to find ways like that we can better connect with musicians in our communities.  

Justin: [00:15:43] I should have mentioned that, like the cool thing about it is that I was in Chicago and then it's a one big network. So I was like the director in Chicago. I told them I'm moving to Charlotte. Would you put me in touch with the person who's down in Charlotte. Who's this guy, Eddie, who does everything by himself, which I don't really understand. But it's unbelievable. So he put me in touch with him and we had a phone call and then like, it just like that feel like you're part of the family and started playing a show, which is really nice.

Bagel: [00:16:07] Yeah, that's so cool. Eddie is the man. He, when I first found out like he was basically running this whole thing himself, I was like, this is crazy. I don't know how that, how that guy has life. But, really cool. And I think it just kind of speaks like the behind the scenes stuff matters just as much and making sure that you're providing that space for these concerts to happen so power to you, Eddie.

Justin: [00:16:31] That's right.

Bagel: [00:16:33] Now I'm curious too, take us back a little bit and maybe back to your high school days when you were just like starting to really get into music and stuff. Like how did you get into music? How did you get into playing? And then maybe a little bit about your band too. I know the band you mentioned in Chicago, like how did you guys get together and form?

Justin: [00:16:52] Yeah. So music didn't become the focus of my life until like, or what it is right now until. Like four and a half years ago until I left that sales job in Connecticut. I was, unfortunately I didn't start playing guitar until like the end of college after college. And once I was able to sing and play guitar, I was like, you know, reached a new level of, of desire just because it, you know, I felt like I was doing something new every day in the music world. But I always loved singing. I did some theater. It was fun being a part of the choir in high school. I think partly it was because my best friend was in it, but also always liked to sing and I didn't think I was terrible at it. So I was like, I'll keep doing this. And then the acapella group in colleges was really great. Just because a good group of people. And got a little better, you know, like when you're singing with people who are more musically talented than you, and you're learning music, trying to read some sheet music, it just got a little bit better at it, which is fun.  Started to really fall in love with like just playing guitar and singing as opposed to like being a solo.  Not necessarily  a solo artist, but not singing choir pieces or acapella pieces.

Bagel: [00:18:05] Yeah.

Justin: [00:18:06] And then was like, kind of like, let's make a life change and move to Chicago. I had a buddy there who I moved in with, which was nice. But I knew that I wanted to start playing music with people.  My friend had just moved there and his other friend was just moving there. So he and I, the person who eventually became the basist in my band and one of my best friends, moved to Chicago in the same month. We both got there October, 2015. So we didn't really know anyone other than like our one mutual friend  and we like got together. It's funny how, I don't know what my plan really was when I, you know, I didn't, I could have and should have had a better plan for what I wanted to do, but I was kinda threw myself into it and tried to see what would happen.

Bagel: What happens when you’re young, right? 

Justin: Um, Yeah, I guess so. I got lucky to be still standing on my feet today. But we talk about it, David and I, we got together and we were like, Hey, what's up? And we, the first two or three times we, we got, we like hung out. We probably talked for like two or three minutes out of the two and a half hours we spent with each other. We were just like, Oh, cool. We'd like, learn a tiny bit about each other. Just like, Oh, okay. Yeah. You're I know where you're from. And I know that you used to play in this band or like, you know, and we just played music the entire time. And then like, it was, it was a music person that I was playing with and then it changed into like a friend relationship, but it was pretty cool that it was just like music first.

  Bagel: [00:19:39] I thought this was an interesting experience. One that I've definitely had among other musicians, but also throughout my life in so many different environments. Growing up for me, it was the kids on the street who played roller hockey. In high school it was the rocker crew. In college, it was the other Jewish guys who wanted to be social leaders. In grad school, it was counselors who wanted to shape young college students into young professionals. Who have you bonded with in different stages of your life? What experiences did you share? And how did that help form a friendship? 

Justin: [00:20:17] We played a show, like an acoustic show where he played guitar and I played a little guitar. And then he was actually a big driver of like, let's get some let's fill this thing out. Ended up meeting a drummer. I met a drummer at a, like, a small gathering party that I went to. And he and I just talked for a while. And he's like, sure, let's jam. Got together and played some music. He liked what he heard. So the three of us were playing. Dave was playing bass. I was playing guitar and singing and Nate was playing drums. And we knew that we needed a guitarist. I'm not a lead guitarist by any means. So another friend of a friend introduced us to John. This is fun going through the history of this. I haven't like talked about the history of Honeystone in a bit because when I talk about my music history, Honeystones, it's the first time I was like, you know, really in a band and caring about it.

Bagel: [00:21:10] For sure. And what kind of stuff were you guys playing or were you like starting to play covers at first when you got together? Or were you putting out original music and just kind of bringing them into the fold or what was going on?

Justin: [00:21:22] Good question. So David and I, we definitely like, so when the two of us were coming, he'd bring his acoustic guitar and I have an acoustic guitar. We sit down, we play acoustic guitar songs together. And I was really bad. I think about it sometimes. I think about the songs we were trying to play, or he was trying to teach me to play. And I was, I was so bad at guitar. I remember I was struggling with some of the core chords, just your typical, one of the 12 chords you need to play as a guitarist. And I remember him teaching me that. So we were starting mostly on covers, but I was like, I had written some words. He had, he definitely had some songs. But like together, we started writing and trying to put some stuff together. When we performed that show, I think we had like a 10 songs set and we probably did eight originals and two covers. And then, so that first rehearsal, this is like, the beginning of honey stone, for sure. Like as the four piece we went, although we then change to a different drummer down the line. We went to this rehearsal space. I thought I had booked it. I had the wrong day or something. So there was only like three rooms at this rehearsal space. And I was like, Oh my God, I'm so sorry. It's like the first time we met this guy or like the second time. and one of the guys who worked there, he's like, ah, actually my garage out in Logan square is like, rigged up. So you can rehearse in there if you give me 25 bucks or whatever, you can do use it for the night. I'm like, yeah, man, that sounds great.

Bagel: Not a bad deal.

Justin: We're in this tiny garage. And we only like went through and played for like two and a half hours and we only played like three or four songs. It was like one song I wrote one song, John wrote one song, Dave wrote. And we just remember them all clicking. It was like, holy shit, this sounds awesome. So. We just kept playing after that. We, so to answer your question, we barely played covers. It was like we'd have to really force somebody would have to push for one to get into a set. Cause we, at the end of the, at the end of the day, or now we've had  30, 35 original songs that we always want to play them before we want to play somebody else's music.

Bagel: [00:23:23] That's awesome. I mean, I think that the going back to what you were starting off by saying, like having that musical connection with someone before you even really get to know them as a person. It's interesting. It's funny because I've been there too with other musicians where you kind of just, you jive with them musically and you just start playing stuff and you're like, all right, this works and you just kind of get into it. And then you're like, all right. Like, I guess I should get to know who they are as well. Like I guess, I guess that's important, but it's almost like the music comes first. At first. It's like one layer that you peel back to form a relationship or form a friendship with someone which is kind of cool.

Justin: [00:23:59] Right. I have neglected to ask you how your music has been over the past couple months. Have you been playing at all?

Bagel: [00:24:09] Yeah. So I, not that much, you know. I probably haven't shared too much of this on the podcast yet, but I do hit around a few instruments. I don't even know if I would say, if I would even use the word play at this point, but I knock him around a bit. I've dabbled in a few over my life. I started off playing piano when I was younger and. Drums in high school and the little guitar here and there but, mostly bass over the last 10 years or so. Yeah. And I've been hitting the bass around playing along. So I skew way on the side of it just playing covers. Cause I just enjoy playing music. I already know. And I've been in a number of cover bands. I think I've told you that before. And I kind of just like getting together and playing music like that. But I, you know, when I was in high school, we had some original songs and more on the hard rock side of things and I played drums and it was fun. But yeah, lately it's just been, just been more of a stress relief going over to play the bass or play some keyboard every once in a while. So.

Justin: [00:25:07] Nice though. Right? It's like it's far as being stuck in your home. It's a good, really nice thing to be able to do.

Bagel: [00:25:13] It is, it is. It's a great stress relief. I mean, I think there are times where, because work is now intertwined with everything else you're doing cause you're at home all day long. Like sometimes I kind of find myself walking around the apartment, not really sure what to do with myself and I tend to flock towards the keyboard when I'm like, I don't know what to do. And then I just start playing and it's like all the worries and cares start to just dissipate. Which tells you something, right? It tells you like, all right, maybe that's a good way to spend your time. 

Justin: [00:25:42] Right. That's pretty good. It's better than me walking over to the refrigerator to check for the 1000 at the time if there is anything new in there for me to eat.

Bagel: [00:25:49] I'm sure everybody listening to this right now can relate to that over the last couple of months. I want a counter on how many times people are on average checking their fridge or the pantry.

Justin: [00:26:02] Unbelievable. It's gotta be like five times an hour for me. 

Bagel: [00:26:06] Yeah. 

Justin: [00:26:06] And I ended up taking an almond or two out every single time. It's not like I come back empty handed most of the time.

Bagel: [00:26:12] They're like, all right. I guess I could have a handful of nuts and I'll come back. I'll see if anything popped up while I was gone.

Right. So that's kind of a little bit about Honeystone and how you guys formed, which is cool to hear.  Were you staring to play your own shows while you were still with that group? or did that start more when you came to Charlotte? Or how did you start to do more on your own?

Justin: [00:26:35] Right.  I was starting to do it at the same time. I was starting to play some shows myself. So I'm on, really my whole music business is through these two websites, Gig Salad and Gig Masters. Gig Masters, just rebranded to The Bash I think. So there's sites where you can just, you hire clowns or DJs or musicians or whatever it is, you know? So I've got profiles on those sites and people got videos and the tiny little bio, some pictures. And people ask for a quote and I send them a quote and then got hired for, I think the first thing I got hired for was a holiday party at a restaurant for a company like 15 people. And I had a music stand with printouts of like my set. The chords and the lyrics of the set. I have since graduated to a phone clip, a phone app, which is so much better. Because now I've got, you can't see, but I just clip it to my microphone and I've got 700 songs in front of me as opposed to trying to bring some loose leaf paper.

Bagel: [00:27:45] Yeah. I've heard that's the way to go these days. Like some musicians are going to, is it the one that likes scrolls too? Or do you have to ask? 

Justin: [00:27:52] Yeah, 

Bagel: [00:27:52] Okay.

Justin: [00:27:52] That scrolls for me.  There's one where, cause the scrolling, it's not always perfect. There's one where you can scroll with your foot, which is nice. I've got to invest in that one of these days. So, but to answer your question, at the same time. So it's like that business started really slowly. I got one review from that lady, who put that together and then I got another review on the other site. And then once the reviews started rolling in, I started getting  hired a lot more, especially during the summer when people are having weddings and parties. So interestingly enough, they kind of grew at the same pace with Honeystone. We were playing probably once a month. Well, I'd say once every two months with Honeystone at bars and venues like that. And then we would also do like a SoFar show once every two months or once every month as well. And then with my personal stuff, it's all, it was all in clumps. Right. So I probably, yeah, no shows January through March. And then I'd have six in June and a bunch in December, those were great. They helped me grow a lot as a musician because there's a difference between caring the whole act yourself. Whereas with Honeystone, I could, I could drop my guitar and 70% of the people in the audience wouldn't have noticed, you know. It's like, my guitar is not a big part of what we were doing, 

Bagel: [00:29:15] Right. 

Justin: [00:29:17] But I think that helped with nerves a lot too. It's like I had to do everything when I'm doing it by myself. So it's like, everything's gotta be on. And I started to do it so much that I definitely feel comfortable singing in front of people and playing in front of people now.

Bagel: [00:29:31] Yeah. I mean, that was my experience. When we saw you, it was like just this is another day. Like no sweat at all. It was pretty seamless. So, but I can understand. Yeah. And I'm sure it takes time to get there. Right. It's like what we might see as like a polished product. I'm sure it took some time.

So how did you work through  what were some of your notable success and challenges as you are starting to grow as a musician?

Justin: [00:30:00] That's a good question. So that first show I like it was, I had to get equipment obviously to make sure I was, it was my first time using my own music setup and. I wasn't terribly  confident with it yet. Like just putting together, connecting my mic to the speaker and the mixing board and connecting my guitar to the mixing board. And I remember walking in there, I got there late too, cause I was like, not that great at driving in downtown Chicago yet. So I got there at 5:55 for a six o'clock show I like had to valet park. Yeah, this was poorly done. I don't know how that happened. And he was like, do you want to use my setup?

Cause they had like a iPod plugged in or something. And I was like, Oh sure. That might be easier. But then I had obviously no idea what I'm doing with that. So because I'd never even seen that before. I started to learn that like, unless I knew what the setup I could. Once I knew what kind of sound system they were using and I knew for sure, I could just plug in here and there and start to work, just stick with what I've got so that I can make it sound the way I want to sound. So that, that was a big part of it is like the audio technical side. Like I think the came easy. The guitar was what I was more nervous about it at the beginning. So. Success I think just, I got more comfort. Like you said it, as I kept doing, it became more, it became easier and therefore more fun. I like, I remember sweating through my shirt that for a show, like being really nervous and like looking at the clock. I remember that I was like, do I have enough songs? I play this? Should I play this course three more times? Should I milk this break in between these songs and drink water and go to the bathroom because I had 20 songs and I needed to make that last three hours.

Bagel: [00:31:49] Yeah.

Justin: [00:31:50] Or like 25 songs, whatever it was. That is, I have the opposite of that problem now, you know, one of the cool things happened to me in Chicago. I don't know if I told you this. I applied for, what do they call it? They call it an inhouse musician for this development company in Chicago, Magellan Development. They have a number of really, really beautiful, awesome skyscrapers and other buildings in Chicago and ended up winning this competition to be their in house musician. So I got a room at the Aqua building in Chicago. She was this really cool skyscraper that you might recognize. I would not be living there if it wasn't for this gig. Jeanne Gang is the architect. She's really famous architect. But and then in exchange for getting a room to live there, I played at a lot of their events. So whether it was like a Halloween night thing or just playing at the pool during the summer for a couple hours. The reason I brought that up is like, I was playing a bunch of shit. That's when I really became crazy, comfortable. Cause I was playing like five shows a week. But I would, my list was so long that, so I have whatever, 600 songs on it used to be that like, Oh, I have my 10 or 15 songs that I'd sound really good on. So I'll stick with those. And then maybe add a couple more. I was just going off like the songs I had just added like yesterday, I was like, Oh, I should play that one. And it was at the top of my list. So it was like, I was playing a new set every single time. There's like almost no recycling going on, which was really fun.

 Bagel: [00:33:18] I want to emphasize the idea that Justin wasn't playing songs he learned yesterday when he first started gigging. He was showing up to gigs five minutes before showtime jumping on someone else's gear and praying that he had enough songs in the bank. It was only after he worked through the initial discomfort and pains and putting the reps  that he got to a place of comfort and confidence playing with these.

This is relevant to any craft. Don't compare your beginning to someone else's end.

Bagel: That's awesome. 

Justin: Keeping it fresh.

Bagel: And were those were covers or was it, are you also playing original? 

Justin: [00:33:55] I did like for those I'm playing in a coffee shop, like I kind of felt like a hired gun there and people were more like, no one was there to see my music. I would throw in some originals when people were paying attention. But for those,  it was, I had more fun, more audience engagement playing covers. I'd love playing covers too. I don't know. I don't know if I made it sound like I, I didn't when I was saying we only played originals, but I love playing other people's music as well.

Bagel: [00:34:19] Yeah, no, no, that's good to know. I mean, I think if, you know, if you're, if you're trying to be musician, obviously you want to put out your own music and that's important. So there's always, I think you're always gonna have that a little bit of that bias. Any one particular come to mind? I know you've played a lot in the past, but, what are some of your favorites?

Justin: [00:34:35] You know, it's like whatever I've been playing recently. 

Bagel: [00:34:38] I'm putting you on the spot here.

Justin: [00:34:39] I like it. But like, so I'm thinking back to those Aqua shows. I, this has been Mandolin Orange, who I had recently gotten into, and there's 

Bagel: [00:34:46] Yeah. 

Justin: [00:34:48] not super complicated chord progressions, but the lyrics.  Like singing them. And they like made me feel a little something. So it's always those songs that kinda make me feel whatever that feeling is. That's really fun. And a lot of it has to do with not necessarily like the meaning behind the song or even the lyrics. It's just like kind of the way the melody hits me. I'm more of a melody driven guy. Like the music that makes me cry or laugh or whatever it is, is not necessarily based on the words, which is really weird. I think it's more about like songs that hit me or something to do with not the word it's like the way it sounds.

Bagel: [00:35:28] Yeah, it's so funny that you're saying that, I am the exact same way and I feel like it's a weird thing too. And I know I've told, I've mentioned to you, my, my other podcast that I do with my two friends called the count. Rockola where we count down very niche topics in rock and roll. Do this like top 10 thing. And I get made fun of by those other guys all the time because, and my girlfriend makes fun of me for this all the time that I don't listen to lyrics. It's funny. I actually don't know lyrics to a lot of songs, so I'm glad I'm not alone, glad there's someone else. The melody gets me some times. And that's crazy. It's funny that you're like that too.

Justin: [00:36:05] Yeah. My girlfriend does the same thing. She's like, did you hear that? How clever that lyric was like, this song is amazing. I'm like, yeah, this song is amazing. But I have no idea what they, I don't really remember what she just said or what she just saying.

Bagel: [00:36:17] Yeah. And it is funny. I'm even more surprised a little bit, and this is totally stereotyping, but the fact that you're a singer. I would think, oh, singer probably would pay more attention to lyrics. Then maybe a basist or a drummer. Like the rhythm section is probably thinking more about the music, but you also play guitar. So it's not, you're not one dimensional. Right. You've got multiple, multiple talents, but, yeah.

Justin: [00:36:39] Like, in a, to me it feels like it's just in a silo. Like I am the type of person that is more melodically influenced. It doesn't matter what instrument I play. That's just who I am like innately. And then it happens. So happens that I sing words on top of that, but I'm feeling the melody a bit more. Not to say that words can't move me either, but I can't just say just Mandolin Orange, right? That's like not enough. So Penny Lane has been really fun to play recently by the Beatles. some Andrew Bird songs have been awesome. Bony bears. Great love playing Nate Ratliff

Bagel: [00:37:16] Oh 

Justin: [00:37:17] Named the…what is it? Big sweats? And Bob Dylan is really, this one is, could be my favorite artist. So I love playing Bob Dylan.

: [00:37:24] Very cool. Yeah. It's a nice little array there. Little bit of the folks singer songwriter type stuff it sounds like.  So you kind of talked through. Some early challenges. And then it sounds like you got more comfortable just by repetition it sounds like. I mean, was there a turning point where you started to just gain a lot of comfort playing solo shows? Can you pinpoint anything or was it just that playing consistently?

Justin: [00:37:52] What changed a lot about the shows is the prep for them. So like for that holiday show, I played all the three songs. Like for, I had a 20 song set. That means I played all 20 of those songs three or four times before the show, you know? So it's like, it was, it's all, it was literally just repetition because I need to play them enough so that I felt comfortable to play them in front of people on the spot.A nd then as time moved on and it's like, I don't need to play them two times. Like, you know, I only need to do two rehearsals as opposed to three and then one rehearsal and then. You know, some songs I didn't need to practice again, it was only the new ones. I don't know what else helped other than just playing and practicing it, just doing it just hours .As well, playing with other people's huge part, like playing with Dave and in the band. I definitely would have been stagnant, my guitar playing. Cause I would've stuck with these chords I know. And I would have just like off of those, you know, you can dumb down almost any song to like basic chord structures. You put a cable on it and you simplify it. And that's what I was doing at the beginning, but like. You know, Dave wrote a song where I needed to play a B7 as opposed to just a B. So I was like, okay. And he, you know, he's right. They, those guys, Dave and John really essentially gave me guitar lessons, you know, like while we were having practice, they're like, Oh, you should try it this way. Why don't you do this? Just trying stuff that was out of my comfort zone. That's how you get better. Right. So like stuff I couldn't do. And then I eventually learned to do.

Bagel: [00:39:31] Yeah, that's really cool. It's it shows that, you know, just by finding the community within the group. Right then the band, you know, you realize that you learn off of each other a lot. And it sounds like there are ways that they were being intentional about trying to like help you grow as a guitarist and you probably had the singing chops and it was just like adding this other element too, to the mix. And I'm sure there were probably ways that you helped them as well, like help them grow and become better.

Justin: [00:40:01] Right. Yeah. We all helped each other become better songwriters. I think just new perspectives and different structures to the way we wrote our songs, which is great. You know, when you're listening to a song, even myself, who's like always looking at it this way, looking at the chords in front of me, you don't always think about, Oh, this is verse chorus, verse chorus outro. Right. When you're listening to a song, you're not thinking, Oh, this is the second verse. And we're going to outro most of the time. Right, at least I don't .

Bagel: [00:40:29] Yeah. Makes sense.

Justin: [00:40:31] Like, as a song writer, I'm like, Oh, it had, when I first started, I was like, it has to be verse chorus, verse, then chorus, and then maybe a double chorus and I'm done or maybe a bridge and then I'm done. But like some of the coolest songs are totally not like that. They're like, they don't really have a verse. It's like part a part B part C. So it was just cool to see other things like that. It's hard to- I'm playing now. And I'm like, Oh, I can play these songs. But these conversations makes me think about how I couldn't do it three years ago, which is really cool. Like it, which felt like a long time, but it's also not that long of a time. Right. So

Bagel: [00:41:10] Yeah.

Justin: [00:41:11] Just hours. I really just think it was hours and the right. But like I said, the right kind of hours, not just playing the same four chords, but like push being like, no, you can't really just play an open G here. Like we need you to play a bar chord. So.

 Bagel: [00:41:25] Okay. So we've already established the value of putting in hours. Relating this to your craft or project, whether you're a creator manager, leader, or simply curator of your own life. I want to stress the importance of these four things. One. Building your support team. Those are the people you're going to struggle with and learn from. You need them, they need you. Two. Celebrating small wins and milestones. It's important because in order to have a sense of growth, you need to see the growth Three. Reflecting. It's the core of learning. We set our intention, we do the thing we reflect on it and learn from it and move forward. Four. Viewing your skill building as a process, it doesn't happen overnight. It does happen over time, usually lots and lots of it. Tune into the steps of the process. So you can better see the growth.

Right. Like chat, right. Challenging yourself and being receptive to others, kind of pushing, helping push the envelope a bit. 

This is a great segue to talk about values, which is what the podcast really focuses on. And I'm this whole episode is just flipped on its head, which I think is awesome. I love that we don't, I don't have to follow the same way exact format for every guest on the show. What are your top values? What are the things that you feel like matter to you the most and and how might they relate to some of what you've been sharing with us as a musician? It sounds like one of the things is like growth for you. I mean, from what I'm hearing, you've kind of found ways to push yourself a little bit beyond what you thought you were capable of in some ways, Tell me if I'm wrong, but that's one thing I'm hearing.

Justin: [00:43:16] You might be giving me too much credit there, but ideally, ideally I would like to be always pushing myself to be better for sure. I want to feel accomplished by doing, but I think that does come from growing right from doing something. Not necessarily  concrete, but like I have something to show for it, whether it is I can now play this song. I can now, I just read this book and I know a little bit more about the history behind whatever it is. I'm better informed about the way the world works and the way people are treated. I can run a mile now or, you know.

Bagel: [00:43:56] Nice. Yeah.

Justin: [00:43:57] I think growth is a good one. Connection is something, you know, I think that's a huge part of most people's lives, but meeting people and growing relationships. And that's, I think that's, like I said, you probably do the most learning from other people, not from. Well, I don't know, watching videos on the internet or reading a book, even though reading a book is great. I just talked about it, but learning from other people 

Bagel: [00:44:21] Not to bash it or anything, right? A different thing.

Justin: [00:44:24] What, I'm curious. I know you've only had a few, what have other people talked about?

Bagel: [00:44:29] Yeah. See now you're putting me on the spot and I'm like, Oh, what have other people talked about? You know, I think I'll start with connection being a common thread. I don't know if anyone has specifically said that connection is like in their top values, but there's been a lot of relating to connection with people. And part of me wonders if that's, because we're lacking that so much right now, like the physical connections that we're like, we're not seeing our friends as much right now with the current situation. But it is something I think a lot of people need and like human beings are social creatures. So I think  that's important. I've heard other things sort of related to that, like family. I've heard faith is important to some people I've heard truth. I'm trying to think of what some of the others have said, like, yeah. Science. Travel is, it has been a big one for a couple people that have been on the show.  And not just like traveling to other countries, but just like adventure, you know, going out and, and living life essentially, and making sure that they're taking advantage of what's around them. So those are a few that have that come to mind.

Justin: [00:45:38] Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. It's a lot of those, I totally agree with. It's easy to sound cliche when you talk about it, right? Like I want to go meet people. I want to go see new things. I want to live life, but that's a, that's a, that's okay to have that as an aspiration. I think.

Bagel: [00:45:58] For sure. And I think that that's part of the whole conversation that I'm trying to have with bringing any people on the show is like, you know, obviously I wanted to bring you on talk about music and things that you've been doing around music. Cause that's how we met it. I know that that's something important to you, but there's also like you're a human being, right. So there's like probably other stuff that you care about in life. Are there any, like, things that are that important to you that you feel like you've gotta be striving for them or living them every day or consistently?

Justin: [00:46:31] Sure. I was just thinking about like, if I could choose to do anything with my time, like what, what do I want to be doing? Right. It's like,

Bagel: [00:46:40] Right.

Justin: [00:46:41] Protecting the environment. I want to like, that's huge. I just want to, I want to visit every national park. I say that I should be. Actually taking steps towards doing that.  But that stuff is like, I love mountains and I love fresh air and I love nature .

Bagel: [00:47:00] Yeah.

Justin: [00:47:01] That if I could spend the rest of my life doing that, or, you know, not every day. But Oh, as much as I can, that would be a very happy person.

Bagel: [00:47:11] Yeah. And it's like, even more pressing right now, like how much longer are things like that going to be around for me to visit.  

Justin: [00:47:20] So yeah, you know, spending time with family and friends, ideally on the top of a mountain, looking at a beautiful scene, is this the way I'd like to spend my time with, a fire going. If I had a safe, in a safe fire area,

Bagel: [00:47:34] We're not going to burn down the national park.

Justin: [00:47:36] That's right. With the guitar. And I feel like I don't like when you ask about my values as a person, like the first thing that comes to mind, it's like  civil rights. But I'm not, I wish I should be doing, should be doing something about that. Right. Other than voting for the people who I think are going to help the most people. But so I feel kind of shallow by saying, I care about  like creating a better world for everyone and not just the elite or whoever that may be, because I'm not working all that much towards that. But maybe now saying it out loud in front of this audience will push me towards doing that.

Bagel: [00:48:17] Yeah. And I think if, if you're willing to cohere with me for a second, I think that that's a cool little authentic moment right there. And, I've had many of these well recording the podcast over the first few. But like sometimes we realize something's important and then we're like, wait a second. Like, why am I not doing more of that? And the reality is, I bet you probably are doing some stuff to help propel that for you. I bet. Even if they're just little conversations that you have here with friends or family, there's probably some ways that you're, that you're showing that that matters. But you might, you might be critical because maybe you have this like big goal around civil rights and you're like, well, I'm not there yet. So maybe I feel like I'm not really doing much. but it's just, yeah, it's interesting.

Justin: [00:49:06] Well, that makes me feel a little better, but yeah, I will, I can do more. My part can be a larger role than it's currently playing. So.

Bagel: [00:49:16] Yeah, that's fair.

I appreciate you sharing that.

Justin: [00:49:20] Definitely.

  Bagel: [00:49:22] Can you relate to what Justin just shared? Is there a cause or value you care about, but feel like you haven't done much to show it? Not everything we do has to change lives, but if that's what you're going for, power to you. Think of one cause that's important to you. What's one step you can take tomorrow to contribute to that cause? How would that reflect your values?

Are there any values or things that you see that other people care about in the world that you're just like laughing at? You're like, why? Why does that matter? That's that's so into me.

Justin: [00:50:02] Speaking of which. The ability to go to a bar right now or go to a rooftop with friends is not that big of a deal to me. Maybe I'm, I don't know. Yeah. It's like, I don't think. But again, I'm lucky enough to have a job right now, so that's totally different. That's I guess that's a different part of the conversation. Cause some of those places, like a bar needs people to be there and that's only, they're only going to exist if people are ther. But that's not that important to me like drinking with friends in public places. 

Bagel: [00:50:36] And is that in direct contrast to like compromising your safety? Or is it just generally speaking? Like, yeah, I don't really care if I need to go hang out with my friends and drink.

Justin: [00:50:46] Yes. Both. You know what? I think that ties back into, although I have, this is probably being so hypocritical here. I'm being productive with my time. I feel like there's, that's bullshit. I do plenty of things that are unproductive, but I don't, I don't find that as a super productive, like as a Saturday, I would love to do that Saturday night, but I don't need to do that during the day. Like to go play music, go for a run or go for a hike or something. Before I do that. 

Bagel: [00:51:15] Yeah. And that's a great example cause it's like, you know, socially encouraged that everybody goes to hang out at breweries on Saturday  afternoons, typically pre COVID. Hopefully again soon, that doesn't mean that like that should be your life, right? Like you just said, what matters to you more is like being out in nature and hanging out, maybe with like close groups of friends and playing your guitar and starting a campfire and like all these things that make you feel happier or like make you feel more fulfilled. That's a good way of showing that you're helping define your own values and what matters to you.

Justin: [00:51:50] What other values can I bash though? I usually like,

Bagel: [00:51:54] Yeah. What else does that.

Justin: [00:51:56] What do people care about that's stupid?

Bagel: [00:51:59] That's how I should phrase the question from now on actually that's that's a great, great pivot.

Justin: [00:52:06] Social media followers. No, I don't know. I care about that for my music. So that would be a lie.  I don't know, people are entitled to, to care about what they want to care about as long as they're not hurting anyone. I should say, I guess.

Bagel: [00:52:22] There you go, you called me out on the trick question, right? It's like everyone should define their own. But I just think it's fun to go there and see if there's like something you you think is, you know, ridiculous out there. But 

Justin: [00:52:36] That was my answer then. I'm okay with that answer that I gave you.

Bagel: [00:52:39] Perfect. I like it. 

So to kind of tie a bow, on the music thing, what tips and advice, what you have for others that are out there that are wanting to pursue a passion in music?

Justin: [00:52:52] If you don't know anything, you can get a cheap instrument. Whether that's a piano or violin or a guitar. You have to, that's the first step. Well, or you can just sing. Or if you just want to sing, if you want to start with that, you can do that, but just start. You're not going to get there by thinking about it or watching YouTube videos about it. And if you can afford to pay for lessons.  It helps. I tell you, I was able to in Connecticut, I started taking some lessons and like I went from being, doing nothing to being able to do a tiny bit. And then, when I started playing in Chicago with other people, it's like the curve became a different slope as opposed to what it had been when I'm playing by myself. And even when taking lessons, just because I think the quantity and quality of practice time improved. So, alright. Music, I would say start, you can always start. It's never too late. Play with people, socially distance playing with people.

Bagel: [00:53:52] That's great.

Justin: [00:53:54] And then, I should have done more of this myself, but I kind of can just because I can think about the songs that I have on like old set lists. I think it's easy to be like frustrating a moment with what you can't do. And I am right now, super. I'm like, wow, I am not good at guitar. I should be able to play this song.  I should be able to play the piano better than I can right now. I should be able to mix and master songs better than I can right now. But if I look back at what I was playing three and a half years ago, I'm like, that's kind of cool. I couldn't play a bar chord, you know, so I can have cataloging or like taking the time to not, you don't even have to catalog it, but to think about the growth you have done and like pat yourself on the back for that is definitely a good thing. And performing is hard and going to have nerves. And it's not even, I think the hard part about performing is, it's not just that it's hard the first couple of times you do it. It's like, it's hard to get the opportunity to do it as a musician, right? So you can practice as much as you want by yourself but you can do open mics pretty much as much as you want. And that's like, that is, that's what I started doing in Chicago. That's really those, my first performance was an open mic and you have to do that. You're not going to be comfortable on stage the first 10, 15, 20 times. You do it. 10,000 hour rule is coming into effect here, I guess,

Bagel: [00:55:25] Yeah.

Justin: [00:55:25] But it's not just 10,000 hours of practice. It's 10,000 hours of practice with another person. It's 10,000 hours of practice on a stage. 


Bagel: [00:55:36] that's that concept of that's how many hours it takes to master

something, right? 

Justin: [00:55:39] Yeah. Right, right.


Bagel: [00:55:40] Yeah. But that's a really good, the point you made about, it's not just sitting at home for 10,000 hours and playing the guitar. It's like, you've got to do that. You've got to get your reps in, in public performing that. Maybe it's not quite that many hours, but maybe to master it, it's a lot right. So like get comfortable enough, like you did, when you finally feel like you can just pick the last five songs you put into your queue and play them as opposed to getting up there and being freaked out that you're five minutes to show time and you don't have a music set up. Right. So I think it's really helpful to hear your insight on like the progression of, you know, that comfort level, that, and that it does build up over

Justin: [00:56:18] I'm glad, I'm glad that something coherent came out of my mouth.

Bagel: [00:56:22] Plenty of things did.

Justin: [00:56:24] I mentioned taking lessons. So like the guitar lessons really helped. When you're taking lessons, 20% of it is the lesson. 80% of it is practicing outside of the lesson with the material they give you and what you should be doing, just like they say at school .  I don't remember the numbers they give you in high school and colleges, but whatever your class time is, you multiply that by four it's time, you should be spending outside of the classroom. And that is absolutely the case with music even, even more so I think. So with the guitar, I don't think I didn't spend enough time outside of it. And then, but when I was in Chicago, I started taking voice lessons from someone who was really great. I've been doing it for forever. And I had the time and I was, to be honest, I was spending a lot of money on the lesson. So I felt like I needed to put in the time if I was going to be doing that. So I did three or four sessions on my own in between the voice lessons. And I didn't see hard results right away, but like I can think about singing song A and how uncomfortable it was to get to that point. I'm just saying any song and now I can just do it without really thinking about it. A lot of it was just time. But I wouldn't have attacked it the way I did, unless I had gone to those voice lessons. So, and people ask, "Well, what did you learn? What do you learn from voice lesson?" Really what I gained from it was - we focused on the things that I was bad at, right. My weak spots. I was like, okay, I can sing in this part of my voice. I sound good there, but you're not really comfortable with where you are right here. So let's keep hammering that home. So final advice is, work on the stuff you're bad at. And, you know, you're only as good as your weakest link. Not necessarily true in music, but you, as you feel more comfortable. Like, right. So that was a big part of it. I think of being more comfortable. It's like, okay, if I hit the wrong note here. It's like, I'm comfortable with my voice where I'm like, okay, that's fine. I'll slide into this note underneath there. I'll slide up to this note because I've done it so many times that I'm comfortable with making a little mistake. It's going to be a tiny mistake. And then I moved on, I brushed past it as opposed to, "Oh, what's going on."

Bagel: [00:58:36] Right, Yeah. That's I think that's great advice. And I think it can be applied to so many crafts that people have. I mean, I think it's wise advice like you want to work on those things when you are the solo performer, I imagine this is where this really comes into play. It might be a little bit different in the group because you're sort of masked in some ways about what you're doing, because there's accompaniment, but when, when you're center stage you've that, that sort of phrase, you said, like you're only as good as that weakest link.

Well, I think there's some truth to that because. People are going to notice if there was something that was like noticeably off or bad. And so if you can get that, not that you're going to get your weakness all the way up to like a really high strength. But if you can get up to a point where you're like you said, you're comfortable with it and it's at least not so noticeable. That way the parts where you shine can really shine. And there's nothing that's like bringing it down. I mean, that's, that's what I think of.

Justin: [00:59:32] Yeah, that's exactly right. And I wanted to add for anyone who is, you know, feeling uncomfortable or as an example, I feel like I'm not a great guitar player. I know that it could be much bette. But while it is weak, I know that people aren't listening to that. They're not like, Oh, his guitar playing is bad. They're like, Oh, he sounds pretty good singing this song. And I don't, I'm not really listening to the guitar. I'm not not listening to it, but I'm not focusing on it. And that's fine. Right. Like you said, you can showcase your strong suits. If you sure up the weak spots, that's a great way to put it. 

Bagel: [01:00:07] Funny you say that because I thought you were great all around, but we saw you perform. So there was not even a thought of like one thing was weaker or struggling than the other. It was just  all around good. In my opinion but. And it's funny how, yeah. You're where you're always going to be. Yeah, of course. And you're always your biggest critic, right? You're always going to like hone in and zero in on those things that you feel like you could do better at because of your own expectations. So I think it's helpful, hopefully, for people to hear that, like, Hey, first of all, don't be so hard on yourself. Second of all, you can always improve and just focus on those incremental steps to get better at things that you feel like you want to work on. Is what I'm hearing.

Justin: [01:00:48] You nailed it.

Bagel: [01:00:49] Cool. Before we wrap up, I've got one really quick lightning round of questions. How do you feel about that? 

Justin: Let’s do it.

Bagel: Alright. I want to know favorite acapella song that you sang in school?

Justin: [01:01:03] Ooh, good question. And this popped up right away. Go The Distance Hercules was so fun.

Bagel: [01:01:08] Nice. What was the worst cover you ever had to play?

Justin: [01:01:13] So with Honeystone, we were so selective that every song we played I loved. But a college band that you mentioned, I didn't talk about at all. We caught chef's a truck bed band. We played some, they were still okay. I still liked a lot of them, but shit, what was bad? What was one that I didn't really want to play? Thunderstruck was kind of terrible, but I didn't mind playing that.

Bagel: [01:01:37] Were you singing that one?  

Justin: [01:01:39] Yeah, I was.

Bagel: [01:01:41] How about your favorite Chicago food?

Justin: [01:01:44] Can I say my cooking? Cause it's when I first started cooking, no.

Bagel: [01:01:48] Sure. If that's the script.

Justin: [01:01:51] I wouldn't say it's my favorite. I like the Chicago Diner a lot. It's like a, it's a vegan diner where you can get whatever you want, but it's all vegan. So like, get like a quote unquote cheese steak, and you still leave there feeling kind of gross. Like you just ate a bunch of grease, which is pretty funny.

Oh no. Lula's Cafe in Logan square, a lot of fun dishes. I went there a bunch. 

Bagel: [01:02:16] An particular dish that you, that you liked?

Justin: [01:02:18] There was like, there were a lot. And I don't think this is even my favorite, but I remember it cause it's weird. Bucatini pasta dish where it's like, it was kind of sweet. It was like a cinnamon pasta dish with goat cheese or something like that. It was different. I liked it.

Bagel: [01:02:32] That sounds really good. I'm going to have to go next time. I'm in 

Justin: [01:02:36] Chicago.

Yeah, definitely. 

Bagel: [01:02:37] Most memorable moment or craziest moment from a show that you've played?

Justin: [01:02:42] In New York, really, proud to have sold out a venue called mercury lounge and greenwich village. No, not Greenwich village. No. 

Bagel: [01:02:49] Somewhere, somewhere in 

Justin: [01:02:50] Somewhere on the South side. Anyway, we, it was a big event. It was like 250 person venue. Not everyone was there to see us, but got enough of a ask for an, a stage dive that I did one. And it was like a successful one. It was fun.

Bagel: [01:03:05] That's pretty cool. You didn't, you didn't hit the floor?

Justin: [01:03:08] No, I got caught. It was a really, it was a pillow landing. It was great

Bagel: [01:03:13] Nice. Last question thing. You're looking forward to the most post quarantine?

Justin: [01:03:18] Playing music with you, Mike.

Bagel: [01:03:21] Yeah, that's right.

Justin: [01:03:22] But more generally as well, two things, both music related playing music with people. Cause that was. I was really excited to do that when it came down to Charlotte, right. Meeting people through playing music like I did in Chicago and for jam box, which is the music rehearsal space to have the get some people in there and for everything to be safe. People to feel like they can be safe, playing music with other people in a shared space.

Bagel: [01:03:48] Awesome. Likewise, man, I can't wait till we can jam. I know we were supposed to right before this all went down but, I'm sure there are tons of musicians out there just like itching to get back to it. So hopefully, you know, the online world will suffice for now. But I'm sure everyone's getting creative with ways that they can jam and maybe, maybe some safe distancing circles will start to pop up in safe places around cities and stuff like that too. Well, thanks so much, Justin. Last thing before we let you go, what ways can people connect with you? I know you kind of joked about social before, but how can people follow what you're doing with jam box and their music and everything like that?

Justin: [01:04:25] Yeah. So I'm jam box. Well, let's start with my, my solo music act, cause that's really what I'm focused on right now. It's Justin Elliot music, Elliott with two L's and one T. So I am really excited to be releasing my first song as solo musician, which you can, by the time this episode is out, you'll definitely be able to find on the interwebs will be on YouTube. It'll be on Spotify and Apple music, and Justin Elliot music. Yeah. Two LS, one T. So I've got a Facebook page and an Instagram, I think either of those, they're your best bet for following me. And then following me on Spotify or whatever you listen to music and then, jam box.

Is JMBX music as an Instagram, and then you can find us on Facebook as well. So definitely if you're in Charlotte looking for a place to play, looking for people to meet, looking for a place to take or give lessons, give us a follow so that,  you know, when to know it's time to start playing.A and can't not mention Honeystone at Honeystone music.

We are on Instagram and honey. I think it's facebook.com forward slash Honeystone music. And we're, everything just as Honeystone. One word for we've got two albums out there.

Bagel: [01:05:49] Awesome. 

Justin: [01:05:50] I was going to say, and if you want to check my, Justin Elliott, YouTube pages, pretty good. In the meantime, while I just have the one song out, I've got a bunch of covers on there.

Bagel: [01:05:59] Awesome. We'll make sure that all gets in the show notes. So you guys can follow along with what Justin's up to. If you are in Charlotte, definitely once things are a little bit more stable, please feel free to, to check them out. And come out and see them and check out SoFar  sounds concert in your area, wherever you're at. If you've got questions about that, or want to know some people's experience, you can hit either one of us up. And Justin, thanks again for coming on and sharing about your passion. And we'll talk to you soon. 

Justin: [01:06:27] Thanks, Mike. Thanks for having me.

Bagel: [01:06:36] I hope you enjoyed this episode of the Live Your Values podcast.

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