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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Concert Junkie: Unraveling the Josh Dion Band

The Beginning

Add fun rock music with a tight knit of friends, multiply it by loyal fans and the result is the Josh Dion Band. The quintet met at William Paterson University where some members were studying in the jazz program. However, it wasn't until after their Willy P days did the band decide to form.

"Josh and I became an in-demand rhythm section at William Paterson University in my senior year," says bassist Brian Killeen. "I joined the band Ulu and they needed a drummer, so I called Josh. We were on the road with them for a year."

After Ulu went their separate ways, drummer and singer Josh Dion was thinking of starting his own band.

"While we were on tour, I was writing lyrics," reflects Dion. "Who can I call? So I started to think about my friends and the musicians I knew. I knew Sarah and we knew each other quite well. I knew she was a great singer. I knew Pat and Brian. Dan is my favorite guitarist, so I asked him. The rest is history."

The band released two albums, "Give Love" and "Live!" and traveled around the East Coast in their van called the Idler. They have also played in festivals in Spain. Each member of the Josh Dion Band: Dion (singer/drums), Pat Firth (keyboards/vocals), Dan Hindman (guitar/vocals), Killeen (bass/vocals) and Sarah Versprille (vocals/percussion) adds their own unique quality to the band's overall sound and atmosphere.

"I started playing guitar in secret," says Hindman, who is from DE. "I never took any other instrument [trombone, baritone, drums and trumpet] seriously."

Firth started playing piano at age five because his mom is the Director of the Adirondack Community College Music Program and his dad is a Low Brass Specialist and teacher.

"They both were huge influences on me," reflects New York State native Firth. "My musical interests up until the end of high school were mainly in classical. However, Lee Shaw was the first teacher I had who steered me in the direction of jazz."

Similarly, Dion, who is from CT, was also influenced by his family to get involved in music.

"My father plays drums and he introduced them to me before I could remember," says Dion.

According to Killeen, who is from Long Island, he started playing bass after his brother's friend played "Enter Sandman" on his instrument of choice. "There was no turning back."

"I have always loved music," says Rochester native Versprille. "I somehow convinced my parents to let me go to school for jazz. An amazing feat!"

New Album: Anthems for the Long Distance

After establishing themselves in the scene for the past three years with packed crowds, the Josh Dion Band released Anthems for the Long Distance on May 2 at the Highline Ballroom in New York City, and on I-tunes and CD Baby May 13 with no major label involved.

"We decided to record an honest, rootsie album that we have 100% control," says Hindman.

According to Dion and Hindman, instead of waiting for "The Big Deal" and next radio single, the band agreed to do all the knitty-gritty steps involved with recording and mixing Anthems for the Long Distance themselves.

"We put this project off for a year and half mainly because we were dealing with the music business. Major labels were interested, but we decided not to deal with that," says Dion. "Instead of waiting for that big deal, we realize this [writing and recording our own music] is our passion."

The entire album was recorded in five days with natural takes and no edits in a Brooklyn studio. It was mixed in three days, front to back for a grand total of three weeks. Josh Dion Band fans can experience a pseudo-live, raw sound on the overall album with a special horns section, too.

The first handful of tracks, "Makin' my Livin," "Line 'em Up" and "Walkin' on Stilts," can make any rough commute more bearable with beats you can drum on your dashboard and melodies you can sing-a-long to. The other jazzy rock beats, "Feel," "Heartache" and "Hold Fast" blends in well with the overall "organic" sound of the album. "Take the Time" is a great group closer before the very last song, "As We." It has an old blues/show-tune sound. The song is a great representation of Dion and Versprille's vast vocal ability.

"Our music has a level of honesty," says Hindman. "Doing things that matter, feeds into the Josh Dion Band."

Dion reflects about his song-writing ability.

"Writing is all I ever do. When I write lyrics, its almost like a spiritual awakening. Whatever story I can conjure up or whatever profound phrase I hear, it gives me a drive and vision that will sustain [in the song]. I mainly stick to writing songs and poetry, the little spurts of thought to make you think," said Dion.

The song that has a personal impact on me (your lovable Concert Junkie) is “Pilot,” mainly for the lyrics. “I’ll be your pilot now/ I’ll be your guiding light/ Lift in your sunshine/ We will rise above…” The lyrics are purely motivating. The reason why the song effected me in a personal way is because it makes me reflect about fun times spent with my late mom, who was a huge inspiration to me. That's the beauty and power of music. :)

The Future

Recently, the Josh Dion Band returned from Spain where they performed in various festivals around the country. During the summer, JDB will be performing in Pennsylvania, Vermont, New York, and Massachusetts. T-shirts, posters, and other merchandise is now available. You can check out more information at: or

By Lori: who posted the JDB pics courtesy of Michael Schoeck because her camera was MIA for the CD Release party. Thanks Bud.

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