Friends & lovers -- today I have the greatest honor of introducing you to one of my favorite people around: Uncle Sexy! I am not sure how I met TJ... I get asked that a lot but it's kind of fuzzy, to be honest. I remember following him on Instagram, maybe because of the Blackfoot Gypsies, and then I saw him behind the merch counter at a Lucille Furs show. When we made eye contact he gave me the biggest smile and wave. It immediately made me feel like I was this guys friend. Those are my kind of people! So ever since I guess we have just been good pals! We hang around a lot of the same places and love the same bands so we see each other at shows all the time. TJ usually alerts me, too, when something is going on that I'd be interested in-- he's the best! Besides being an all around swell guy, he is also a force to reckoned with under the spotlight. I am pretty sure the first time I saw Uncle Sexy in action was at Harte's, a bar on the south side that always has fun music. It was probably an open mic night or the BFG were playing. TJ got up to sing and all eyes were on him. He really knew how to play to an audience-- and get them all to have a good time! I can remember thinking, "this is what this guy was born to do". Since then I have had the pleasure of seeing Uncle Sexy perform with his nephews a couple of times and I even customized a shirt for him ;) . Yes, photos below for sure-- you'll know the one! Anyway, I did a lil interview with TJ and wanted to share that with you so you could get to know him a bit more as well! Enjoy and be sure to check out his tunes and his Instagram @unclesexy !!!
DC. Where are you from? Did you grow up in Chicago?
US. I was actually born on a navy base hospital in Oakland California where my dad was stationed at the time. I have been here, in Beverly, for about 9 years but did most of my growin up a town over in Evergreen park.
DC. Where do you get your style?
My style comes from just watching all my heroes in old performances and pictures. I always liked the retro look or just dressing different from everyone else because I have this dumb need to standout at all times... and of course I'm inspired daily by you and sometimes even clothed by you haha.
DC. (awww) How long have you been performing?
Well, I have been performing for a long time in many ways. I would take my parents old cassettes back in the day and sing on this little microphone toy I had, and in 6th grade I was really into Blink 182 cause of all the immaturity and being a 6th grade boy is like the peak of that. My mom said I would sing the Enima of the State album in my sleep at night. But when I got to high school I really got into rock and roll. I remember my friend called me in the middle of the night and was like hey man turn on channel 11 and the Last Waltz was on. I saw Neil Young play the harmonica and went and bought one the next day haha. I also did a musical, a play, and joined the choir my senior year. Grease was the musical and the play was called “Murder is Bad But Monday Can Kill You”. I had a decently big roll in that one. I played a detective trying to solve the murder mystery.
DC. Who is your biggest influence sound wise?
My influences musically are all over the place. It's damn near impossible to pinpoint a certain one, but I will say the three artists that inspire me the most are probably Todd Snider, John Prine and The Band. The Band was like a super group of talent, but Levon Helm would be my favorite member and Richard Manuels voice is just beautiful. Todd and John remind me so much of myself-- it's like I have known them my whole life. I met Todd Snider once on the road working for Blackfoot Gypsies and we were in the catering line together. I thought, "Quick! Think of something cool to say!" and “Check it out! They've got sausage and meatballs!” is what came out of my mouth. He was like, "yeah... cool". lol
DC. What do you think it takes to grab the attention of an audience?
Grabbing attention to me comes from a few things, I like to randomly point or make obvious eye contact with audience members that seems to help-- and I think tricks or dance moves and things are a huge thing. Im a big guy so people like it when I'm movin' and groovin' haha. Also my crowd seems to love when I chug a beer or a drink on stage, club owners do too because it sells drinks for them when you get the crowd fired up like that!
DC. How did you get into music?
I guess I got into music, somewhat, from my parents. They always gave me their tapes and records to mess with as a kid. I give a lot of credit to my one friend from high school for my rock and roll obsession. He doesn't really leave his house much these days and we kind of don't talk as much but he showed me so many things in high school. I would sign on to AIM and I'd have all these links waiting for me, or he'd call me up and say turn on this channel or that and there would be some epic concert like the Rolling Stones rock and roll circus or the Last Waltz on. Him and Dylan from Blackfoot Gypsies' turtles are the inspiration for my song “House Turtle Blues”.
DC. What have you been working on with the south side and the music scene in that area?
I love this bar which you know lol, Harte's Saloon. It's sort of a club house for the music lovers of the surrounding neighborhoods. You can see it all over town now. Far more than when I was younger but no bar in this area rocks harder than Harte's. So, me and my friends try to get cool bands in there all the time and have these open jam type situations. I have been even trying to get some touring bands to come through there lately and just more bands in general. Guys like Dave Waterman use to do the same there when I was younger and they still do some so I guess basically my focus for that is to just keep the music alive and help keep a spot for all the people that like these sorts of things. Also, I love bringing musicians that I think are talented together to help influence one another and form a community. I like to use Harte's as a place to do so. Bands like Rookie and American Grizzly, Coyote Riot/Bluefish Fellows inspire me and have taught me so much as well as the Blackfoot Gypsies and many others. I feel like I should mention them all cause I wouldn't be anywhere without the encouragement of those guys, and the small lessons they have given me have definitely been the building blocks for my music so far.
DC. Who is your dream artists to play a show with past and/or present?
There are tons of folks I would love to play a show with but The Band would have to be my number one. I just love all their music and personalities so much! Unfortunately, there is only two remaining members and they don't really play any more. Todd Snider would be totally epic too and he's still around and kickin' major ass. He is just such an honest song writer and a beautiful human-- no one brings people together like Todd. Im a part of his fan page on Facebook and the people on there are so inclusive, kind, and quirky. Its down right inspiring in itself!
DC. How do you spend your free time?
All of my free time is really devoted to music. I go to shows as often as I can. A friend once told me every show he goes to he tries to take something away from whoever is playing and I have kind of been living that rule lately. I guess I do do other things, like every so often I'll go fishing, play games, or puzzles with my siblings or go to a baseball game. I love baseball. This year I played a lot of catch. I feel like there is something so cool about playing catch with a baseball. You just talk and toss. Its nice.
DC. What’s your latest song and how can people see you perform or hear your music?
I did just put out two Live From DZ Records songs on Youtube called “Night Train” and “House Turtle Blues” but I'm about to drop my first studio recorded song on December 3rd. Its more of a bluesy number I did with a bunch of friends from different bands I have associated with over the years. That is called the Bikini Song and if all goes according to plan I should have that stuff up on all the platforms on that day. Such as Spotify, Soundcloud, iTunes, all that jazz!
(Update it's up, check itttt)!
Thanks for takin the time to hang with is virtually you guyyyys! It means so much and I am sure you'll all adore TJ! Here are those photos for you!