Singer-songwriter Joe Giacoio joined me in the studio for a segment of WFDU-FM’s TRADITIONS this past Sunday. The Bronx-born and current New Jersey resident visited me to share songs from his new CD I Love Hamburgers. This new recording is a charming blend of original songs that will brighten a cloudy day with a few cuts that will certainly get you thinking about the state of the world. Joe has a pleasing voice and a talent for writing clever songs that really catch your attention.
A few weeks ago Carla Ulbrich visited the show. Carla and Joe married a few years back and I can only imagine what a creative and fun loving household this must be! When she was a guest, Carla shared a song about Joe’s ex-girlfriends, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to give Joe equal time on the program.
Produced by flat picking champion and multi-instrumentalist Bob Harris, Joe’s new CD has an easy going country feel with a collection of songs that deal with romantic pursuits (both “guy gets girl” and “guy tries to distance himself from the girl” types), meteorology, Zen stories, family dysfunction and more. Bob Harris has played with Johnny Cash and Vassar Clements, and other artists who appear on the CD include Gary Oleyar on Fiddle (Loggins & Messina), dobro player Rob Ickes, and Michael Ronstadt on cello. The songs were written by Joe, and three of the songs were co-written with Carla Ulbrich.
I discovered that the title track is surprisingly not a homage to my favorite food, but rather Joe’s declaration of what special women measure up to in the natural order of his life. Not many things can surpass a hamburger, but Joe makes an exception for a special woman. As Joe mentioned on the show, the song might explain why he did not marry until later in life.
Joe’s quirky sense of humor can be found throughout the recording. “No Place Like Home“ (co-written with Carla Ulbrich) deals with family dysfunction being handed down from generation to generation in a humorous fashion that makes the listener realize that these issues are not insurmountable.
As for that final frontier, being judged for a place in Heaven, Joe makes a case for being judged by a “Jury of My Peers” (another Carla Ulbrich co-write) where the composition of the panel changes as life progresses.
Another song that touches on a meeting with the divine creator is “In Gods Image“ which almost did not make the cut, but is clearly a powerful and timely song that needs to be shared. Joe wrote the song over a decade ago based on a true story of a New York City mother who publicly forgave a group of boys who killed her son as part of a hate crime. The recent events of the Charleston shootings in 2015 gave Joe concern about whether such forgiveness is still possible and that the message of his song would be too simplistic in light of current events. I for one am glad that the song was included because it sends a powerful message to all of us as we deal with the divisive situations in the world today.
I Love Hamburgers is a catchy collection of songs from an artist that deserves to be heard by audiences all across the nation. He made his TV debut on USA Network’s Up All Night With Rhonda Shear and has been played on Dr. Demento‘s radio show. Joe songwriting has already gained recognition in the Great American Song Contest, South Florida Songwriting Contest, the Avalon Emerging Songwriting Contest in Virginia, Pennsylvania’s Plowshares Songwriting competition, and he has appeared in the Songwriters Showcase at the New Jersey Folk Festival. I predict there will be more awards and wider audiences listening to this talented songwriter.