Austin has always played a significant role in Jonny Meyers’ music career. Whether it was in Austin, Tex. or on Austin Street in Forest Hills, the singer-songwriter has found new music and new recording partners to further pursue his goals.
Not content to limit himself to one music project, Meyers is a bit of a renaissance man, exploring many different genres, such as country, blues, rock, Ska and Caribbean music. He got his first guitar when he was 13 years old and studied the works from greats of the neighborhood, like Paul Simon, Dionne Warwick and the Ramones.
“It’s interesting to me because Forest Hills has never really been a center for arts/music. In fact, there were never many gigs in Forest Hills,” Meyers said. “Yet, there is such a rich tradition of music that came out of my hood. It makes me proud to be from there.”
When he moved to Austin, Tex. in 1998, Meyers quickly settled in and started forming bands that fit his many musical passions. He formed The Stingers ATX, a Ska band that made three albums and toured Europe on and off. As he dug deeper into early Jamaican rhythm and blues, he created RokkaTone, an acoustic project with street musicians and The Stingers’ trombonist. That band put out an album in 2005.
Now that he is back in New York City, Meyers has put together a couple of other bands, such as a new Ska group called Grand Concourse, and Jonny Meyers & the Trio. Meyers said he hopes to have his debut album with the trio, with the working title “Five Minutes on a Train,” out by the end of summer.
“In the trio, I play songs like I play them in my living room…open guitar with occasional fills/riffs while singing so the neighbors can hear me loud and clear,” he said. “I guess I’m not satisfied unless I’ve got a few things going on.”
One of those things he has going on is a job teaching music at PS 182 in Jamaica. When Meyers’ daughter, Isabella, was born in 2007, the musician knew he wanted a stable job that would also let him keep recording and playing shows in the City.
“Teaching was something I always loved and felt that I did well. It just took me some time to realize that I loved to teach music, especially to the younger ones,” Meyers said. “I think the biggest effect it is having on my songwriting is that I am doing the bulk of my writing on piano now and finding new chord patterns because of the instrument.”
The Trio will be playing at the awards ceremony for the Queens World Film Festival on March 8 at Centraal in Long Island City at 9 p.m. You can catch the band at The Way Station in Prospect Heights on March 15 as well.
Meyers will also continue his residency at Espresso 77 in Jackson Heights, playing the first Thursday of every month.