Artist Spotlight - Roman Street

I was so excited to hear that Roman Street had a little time to share some of their favorite things with me recently. Not being a native to the Eastern Shore, but loving to call it my home of almost ten years, I have learned to love many things about this place. Roman Street quickly became one of them when I worked for a few years in the area's entertainment industry. Their cool, smooth, unique sounds appeal to most anyone, especially those of us here in their hometown!

The band, made up of brothers Noah and Josh Thompson, "put their guitars together to form Roman Street, their band named for an old roman street in the Alps, and became an internationally trained instrumental band specializing in improvisational fusion of Classical, Gypsy and Contemporary Jazz, Latin, and Nuevo Flamenco. A departure from the over-produced music that is out there today, they keep it simple—the beautifully organic sound of acoustic instruments played by talented people who love what they are doing. Whether performing as a guitar duo, or with a backing band, Roman Street astounds with music that appeals to fans of many genres." Noah Thompson took a little time out to chat with me...

Q: How did Roman Street get their start? When and where was your first performance?

We got our first gig at Guido’s Restaurant in Daphne. Playing as a guitar duo, for $75 per night plus dinner. This was right around the time I (Noah) graduated college and Josh was still at Daphne High School, circa 2006.

Q: What is special about the Eastern Shore and how does is come through your music?

We are eastern shore natives, and have watched it transform over the years while still keeping its attractive lifestyle. Something about growing up next to the water has an influence on us, prods our creativity, and has a way of muting the noise of life to let the music come through. Many people over the years have described our music as ‘relaxing’; I believe growing up here has something to do with that as ‘relaxing’ is how we perceive the lifestyle here. We have that wonderful mix of water, white sand beaches just a short drive away, abundant seafood, Southern Charm, friendly and supportive people, and all at an incredibly low cost of living (relatively speaking). I haven’t seen anything like it in all my travels.

Q: Who, if any, are your biggest influences, and what attracts you most to them or how can we see/hear them in your music?

Our mentors and European Extended family, Tonic Strings: www.tonicstrings.com

Jesse Cook, amazing guitarist composer hailing from Canada: www.jessecook.com

Ottmar Liebert, another great guitar composer----with a little more of a new age and simplistic approach: www.ottmarliebert.com

Q: Performing music seems like a dream not a career to some people, but a lot of times that’s not the case at all. How have you found ways to use your gift and still make it a successful career?

Playing music for a living is awesome most of the time. The rest of the time it feels like just a ‘job’. But I think that's good and keeps us in the right place. My take on monetizing your music is that you have to be creative, humble, and willing to work. Josh and I have played almost anything at some point; from trailer parks, urgent care centers, weddings, cafes, to on the streets, at jazz festivals, and in historic theaters. We have always found that the more you are able to perform (if you have a good product), the more CD’s people will buy, and the more work tends to ‘find’ you. Another thing is building relationships with those that hire you-----and increase the odds that they will hire you again. At the end of the day, a lot of operating a band is about Public Relations and Sales. We are not so huge and popular that we can afford to be jerks; even if we felt like it, and people have been asking two guys with classical guitars to play Kenny Chesney and Katie Perry all night! Ha! I’m of the strong opinion that you should treat people like you would want to be treated. Another point is that even though you are an artist, ‘artists’ aren’t the ones who will be paying your bills and building your career. So Josh and I have always tried to be punctual, professional, amiable, and easy to work with. This approach has paid off immeasurably. Musicians get a bad reputation with non-musician, business-minded people for being unkempt, erratic, emotional, and less than punctual. Josh and I enjoy breaking this mold and consider our band a business----and one that is easy to be passionate about because after all, it is about music!

Q: Where is your favorite place to perform? To what type of crowd? Any favorite special guests you like to share your stage with?

I love playing in outdoor amphitheaters on or near the beach. When the weather cooperates and the people are feeling it there is nothing better in my life as a musician. For example, this Saturday (Valentine's Day) we will be playing the Amphitheater at Seaside, FL. People have ample room to dance and enjoy themselves. Something about my music, as mentioned before, is strangely connected to the beach, so for me it is so much fun. (Check out more of Roman Street's upcoming tour dates on their website!)

Q: Ok, most important question of the day:  favorite coffee shop or restaurant on the Eastern Shore…Go!

Panini Pete’s in Fairhope------great food, great times, and all run by a great guy and big supporter of our band. Tamara’s Downtown is also awesome for the same reasons (except run by an awesome lady!). She even has huge portrait of Roman Street displayed in the restaurant that was done by a local artist. We love the support we get from our locals!

Q: Where can we see you perform and learn more info about you?

Connect with us and get scheduling info at www.romanstreet.com and like our Facebook page. Thanks so much for supporting us!

 

Fun side note: author Kara happened to be watching Roman Street the day they recorded one of her favorites of their songs (they maybe just didn't know it at the time!) - check it out here!

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