If you’ve read any of my previous articles, you know that I like to focus on several criteria when selecting a Spotlight Artist. Among the most crucial aspects to me are song selection, musicianship, and most importantly…great vocals. The majority of musicians that play covers are usually working with a band, or at least other musicians. But in some cases, players are able to go it alone, while still providing a high quality performance no matter what the gig. One shining example is singer/guitar player John Monnecka.
John is one of hundreds of musicians that I saw live when I worked in the New Jersey music scene, and one of dozens that works solo. It’s not easy to perform for club and bar partons by yourself, but Monnecka makes it look that way. With certain musicians, you can tell right away that they are a natural at their craft. John has an aura about him that is unmistakable, and it radiates out to anyone in attendance, whether they realize it or not.
As an accomplished guitar player, Monnecka is able to cover tunes from several genres, while still putting his own spin on each song. Without the aid of a band, it’s sometimes difficult to make the music sound full with just the one instrument, but John remedies that by skillfully utilizing a loop pedal, where he can first lay down a groove, and then accompany himself with texture, harmonic lines, or any guitar solo.
With that solid foundation laid, the platform is provided to support Monnecka’s true gift – his rich, soulful vocals. Singing isn’t all about just hitting the notes…you have to have tone. John covers artists that are all over the map – from Adele to Iron Maiden – and makes each one his own with obvious love for the music. The grit and passion in his voice is undeniable, and he beautifully colors the melodies by tastefully incorporating a vocal effect unit, which creates rich, lush harmonies that make you feel like you’re listening to an entire band.
I had a difficult time selecting which video to imbed for this article, as he has over a hundred songs to choose from on his YouTube Channel, but I went with this one below as it really shows the artistry that Monnecka embodies, along with examples of his techniques that I described above. Although it was inspired by the Ryan Adams version of the classic metal tune, John still makes it his own. I also really love the lighting of this shot. Even though he only appears mainly as a silhouette, the mood really fits this version of the song.
Monnecka works tirelessly in the NJ club and bar scene, and has done so for many years. A lot of musicians would get discouraged having to often times play to very few people for not a lot of money, or to a crowd that’s just there for the drink or the pool table, but John not only plows on as a true lifer, he brings an honest, professional performance every time out. His talent level is far beyond what you would normally expect to find in your local pub, and really deserves recognition as a hidden treasure.
You can find out much more about John Monnecka on his Facebook Page, where you can keep up to speed on his gig schedule, check out and/or purchase some of his original music, or just become a fan. Even better still, scroll through the aforementioned YouTube Channel and pick some of your favorite songs to listen to, so you can see just what I’m talking about. You’ll thank me later. 🙂
Full time bass player and owner of Cover Band Central