If you were working at City Hall last Friday afternoon, you might have heard John Jerome, aka The Island Cowboy, perform his new single, “I’m on My Way to Somewhere,” alongside guitarist from Gloucester Geoff Small.
The music came streaming from Mayor Greg Verga’s office, as the pair were the first guests on Verga’s new show for 1623 Studios, “Music with the Mayor.” The taping of the first episode, which Verga said could appear monthly, took place this afternoon.
With Town Hall closed as usual on Friday afternoon, Verga, an accomplished bassist and guitarist in his own right, hosted the show which he wishes to use to showcase the talents of musicians from Gloucester, Cape Ann and the North Shore.
Verga is also part of a musical project called Paulzon Fire, a group made up of Paul Catania, Frank Paul Brancaleone and Verga, whose middle name also happens to be Paul, who recently released a few songs on streaming services.
Prior to being sworn in as mayor on Jan. 1, Verga hosted a live web radio show called “Unfinished Music” which focused on the regional music scene with interviews and studio performances direct from Beechbrook Studio in West Gloucester, which happens to be Vega’s unfinished basement.
With the bullying pulpit of being Mayor of Gloucester, he thought it would be ‘cool’ to do something similar out of the Mayor’s office. Verga pitched the idea for the show to Erich Archer, executive director of 1623 Studios. They walked around the office and felt it was doable, said Verga, who has a guitar hanging on the wall in the back of her office.
1623 Studios production coordinator, Tyler Hrynyszyn, former editor/producer at Salem Access Television Corp., and operations coordinator, Emily Games, came to film the first episode.
“Today it will be pre-recorded,” Verga said. “Eventually we will get to the point where we can broadcast it live and we will try first.” The idea is to showcase local musicians with their original music and give them a platform. Jerome had performed at Verga’s inauguration at City Hall’s Kyrouz auditorium, but it was his first time playing in the mayor’s office.
“Greg is a friend of mine and has been for a long time. I played his daughter’s wedding,” said Jérôme, who enjoyed being one of Verga’s first guests.
“Nobody else would be on the list first but you,” Verga said.
“You are the best, man,” Jerome said.
“I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever heard of in my entire life,” Jerome said of the mayor promoting the local music scene from his office.
“I’ll tell you why, because there’s so much talent in this town, so much that you can’t even imagine and it’s such a small town that it’s hard for anyone to hear about it or to make him known, but a guy like him, the platform now, and using this platform to give us all our own platform is very much appreciated, it really is.
Jerome said he has an album coming out in the fall with his new single, which he says got more than 35,000 views on Spotify in a month. After an introduction by Verga, Jérôme and Small performed the single, standing in a corner of the office near a credenza. Verga noted that he had performed alongside both performers and was in a band with Small.
Jerome, an East Gloucester resident and carpenter by trade who performs regularly at The Rhumb Line on Railroad Avenue on Wednesdays, also performed a new track he wrote for Gloucester’s 400th anniversary next year titled “My Town”.
“It’s my city”, sang Jérôme.
“This is my home. This is who I am and where I come from. This is my life. These are my friends. This is not where I am going, but this is where I have been.
When the show ended, Verga performed alongside Small and Jerome and urged those watching if they were interested in coming on the show to call the mayor’s office.
Hrynyszyn, reached on Thursday, said he was editing the episode and it should air next week or the week after. So stay tuned.
Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-675-2714 or [email protected]