When a New Orleans music venue whimsically listed Jeremy Joyce’s genre as “adventure” on its show calendar, it unwittingly defined Jeremy’s music in the most perfect of terms. Jeremy’s music indeed stems from adventure, a long pilgrimage that began in Philadelphia, dipped into New York City, meandered down the coast, and flirted with the Midwest before arriving at last and at home in New Orleans. Between momentous moves and life-changing loss, Jeremy’s living on the edge led to the dirty, inspired streets of the Big Easy, where the word is “Watch your step, or get in step.”
New Orleans is a befitting musical backdrop for Jeremy Joyce, whose genre-defying songs recall the vintage sounds of jazz, blues, funk, and standard pop. His latest album, Street Poet (May 2022), recorded and produced by Grammy-nominated producer Mike Harvey, captures various eras of Crescent City sounds that have seeped into Jeremy’s blood since he arrived in New Orleans in 2014. Born out of a macro-level interest in music history and a micro-level interest in what makes songs tick, Jeremy’s songs incorporate both the musical intuition and clever tricks of generations of legendary music makers.
“What makes New Orleans great is you can break all the musical rules,” says Jeremy. “No one looks at you sideways if you are writing out of four or five different traditions,” he says. Indeed, one glance at the songs sung or written by Allen Toussaint, Aaron Neville, and Dr. John provides ready evidence of the Crescent City’s long obsession with mixing musical traditions. Like many of his predecessors, Jeremy Joyce’s songs aren’t easily pinned into one tradition or scene.
With a band of fine New Orleans horn, keys, and rhythm players, Jeremy delivers lively performances grounded in his masterful guitar work and mischievous singing. While his softer songs of love, heartbreak, and reflection offer a glimpse of the songwriter’s inner romantic and philosopher, his more prevalent funk-leaning sound is simultaneously vintage and timeless,prompting dancing up and down Frenchmen Street, festival grounds, and the beer-stained floors of music clubs across the country.
“If you get funk in your system, it touches everything. If you got a good song, it’s gonna get on that too—it’s always about the song,” he says.
Jeremy’s 2021 single, “Come Back to New Orleans (Celebrate the Mardi Gras),” brought joy and celebration to a city sidelined by the pandemic. It was picked out from OffBeat Magazine as a stand-out song, an anthem of hope for the future. His pre-Street Poet catalog also includes other notable singles, two albums, and two EPs.
Before gracing the stages of French Quarter Festival, the New Orleans Cigar Box Guitar Festival and other New Orleans venues/festivals, Jeremy’s musical journey began in his hometown of Philadelphia. There, he played indie rock guitar with the likes of Adam Arcuragi before co-founding Fencebells and recording an alt-country EP and album with Brian McTear at Miner Street Recordings.
Following the death of his brother, Jeremy relocated to New York City. Without a band, he began performing solo across Manhattan and Brooklyn, developing his songwriting chops and further honing his guitar skills by exploring jazz and rockabilly sounds. While in NYC, he performed with Beastheart and Flower Mound and composed music for film, which included a collaboration with Sharon Van Etten.
With an intention to hit the road in 2011, he traded his ‘68 black-faced Fender Super Reverb amp for a black ‘87 Dodge Ram Van with red leather seats. Sidelined by financial woes, Jeremy temporarily landed in Florida and began driving a delivery truck, which did little to nourish his musical spirit. A timely escape to St. Louis, Missouri, resulted in a number of psychedelic folk and rockabilly recordings with talented St. Louis engineer and producer David Beeman.
Upon the passing of his mother in 2013, Jeremy decided to join his sister and follow the sounds of the South with a move to New Orleans. There, he began street performing with a Royal Street swing band before finding a plethora of opportunities in all genres as both a guitarist and songwriter. Today, he leads his band and recording projects while continuing to collaborate with a number of artists and songwriters, forever exploring and expanding the boundaries of music expression.