Minnesota-based singer-songwriter Joe Carey has been making rock and roll noise for over three decades.
It all started in St. Paul where, at the age of 10, he’d gotten his first guitar as a gift from jolly ol’ Santy Claus. It was an Eddie Van Halen replica out of the annual Sears holiday catalog. At first, Joe hadn’t a clue how to operate such an instrument but after taking a few lessons here and there and picking up a few tricks from slightly less clueless guitar slingers, he was soon jamming out three chord pop oldies like “Louie Louie”, “Wild Thing”, “Twist and Shout”, and “La Bamba” with his best friend Roman banging on the drums. Eventually, Joe’s older brother Jim joined in on keyboards/vocals and before long, the lads were tearing up St. Paul’s garage, backyard barbecue, and school function circuits. This would become a recurring theme for the brothers Carey throughout their junior high, high school, and early college years as they graduated from playing parties to coffee houses to bars under various monikers, both together and separately.
Then, in the late 90’s, the brothers formed a new Twin Cities-based power pop band called Loft. Joe, in his mid 20’s, had just returned home from a brief stint living in Colorado, where he went to “find himself” like everyone else who moves there. As it turned out, what he found was that he had a knack for songwriting…as well as his own singing voice. Both proved integral in launching the new outfit which would become one of the hardest working bands in the region.
After a few successful years and two albums, Loft disbanded and Joe and Jim continued to carve their niche in greater Minnesota’s music scene as The Careys, eventually adding their younger sister Jessica as a third vocalist. In 2003, Joe released his first solo album Wondervibe and spent the next several years splitting time between The Careys and playing alongside Nick Hensley in Love Songs For Angry Men. During that time, Joe also began playing as a solo act and developed an interest in producing and engineering.
In spring of 2009, he released his second solo effort Sunflower Soul which he wrote, produced, and engineered by himself in his own garage studio...he even played most of the instruments on the indie-rock record which was well-received by music critics statewide. As the late great Tom Hallett put it, "It's truly refreshing to hear somebody really be who they are, say what they want, and play what they want...Carey is one of those rare artists who can record with nearly the same enthusiasm and gravitas as they do in a live setting, and more than a few of these pleasant little gems prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt." - 'Round The Dial - May 4th, 2009
A few years later, Joe, along with local music staples Blair Krivanek (guitar), Nick Salisbury (bass), and Jordan Carlson (drums), formed soulful roots rock band The Chinwaggers...sort of by default. The group had been playing together on and off backing up other singers in the area until Krivanek suggested that they record some of Joe's new songs. So they started tracking piecemeal at various locations and in 2014, released the 10-song concept album Wayward Son.
"Wayward Son, rings with the energy and swagger of a band of sailors in a crowded Irish pub. The group’s seaworthy rock and folk instrumentals collide with Carey’s raspy, bombastic vocals and heartfelt lyrics, all to an intriguing and subtly debaucherous effect. Wayward Son is stylistically diverse, but big and bold from start to finish." - KT Lindemann, Local Current Blog
Now married to his lovely wife for over a decade and sporting two amazing kiddos, Joe is still hard at work making music every day. He can be found playing shows throughout the upper Midwest year round, so keep an eye on his calendar. The Onion's A.V. Club has this to say about a Joe Carey performance:
"Carey plays vocal-driven, guitar-heavy stuff reminiscent of what would happen if The Black Crowes played a friend’s barbecue. It’s upbeat, driving rock for the kind of folks who say the Foo Fighters are the best thing Dave Grohl has ever done, and the kind of folks who mean it. That’s the thing to take away from Carey: He knows what he likes, and that’s what he plays."
Wise words from a wise allium.
Joe recently released his third solo album Comeback in January 2017, which Bill Stieger of St. Paul's Villager called "a classy recording with well-crafted musicianship and sage lyrics". Comeback was recorded and co-produced by regional rock legend Rich Mattson at his Iron Range studio Sparta Sound.