30 songs in 30 days: #18 – “Manhattan” (Twin-A)

Day 18: A song that you wish you heard on the radio

My last two song challenge posts were on the critical side, even if they involved bands I like. So I’m happy to start a new week promoting a favorite artist of mine who you probably don’t know.

In college, I occasionally dropped in at the campus coffee bar, The Other End (TOE for short) in the basement of the music department building. In addition to caffeinated beverages and the best chocolate chip brownies I’ve had to date, TOE also featured live music from local artists. Early in my college career I happened to catch a solo singer/songwriter/acoustic guitarist by the name of John Lardieri. In short, the guy was incredible. His guitar playing ranged from gentle melodies to raucous hammering away at the strings, and his vocals swung between mellow, nicotine-tinged whispers, bell-resonant declarations, and hoarse bellows of ruined love. I was immediately captivated by his music, grabbed a copy of the album he was selling that night, and was happy to catch his later performances on campus whenever I could. Soon after, he put together a three-piece band and started recording more records in his pursuit to get signed to a major record label, so he focused his performances more in his home base of New York City. But I kept up the best I could with his independent releases, ordering them from his website or, in more recent years, snatching them up on iTunes.

I will never understand how this guy didn’t get more exposure, didn’t get more record deals, didn’t end up wildly popular on major radio stations. But I simply can’t praise his music and songwriting talents enough. I had a hard time choosing just one of his songs with which to exemplify his music, but in the end I went with one that describes the struggles of a musician seeking that opportunity to be recognized, to make it big. It begins with soft tones and tired, even exhausted, murmurs of playing the NYC music scene, and builds to a euphoric crescendo by the end, the power and clarity of John’s voice declaring his love for the craft and all the joys and pitfalls it entails. (A bonus reason for choosing it is that it’s about his, and my, favorite city in the country.) After listening to it below, I strongly urge you to check out what there is of his work on either Amazon or iTunes (mostly under the moniker Twin-A, including Something Good, B-sides, and Sugarcane EP, but also as Johnny BLK). You won’t be disappointed.

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