John Vento is often called a chameleon in the Pittsburgh music scene; and, while his critics may use the term as a pejorative, Vento views it as a compliment. He understands that they’re motivated by the frustration of their inability to lock him into a specific musical style. After all, the front man for the high-energy, hard-rockin’ bands, The Businessmen, and the Nied’s Hotel Band, is also known for his introspective, brooding solo recordings.
Rather than a drawback, however, Vento considers such diversity to be among his strengths; and his fans agree. They relish sharing his tumultuous trek toward achieving his artistic vision, which he accomplishes by channeling a blend of eclectic influences through his own, raw emotions, which he masterfully shared in his current release, “Love, Lust & Other Wreckage,” an almost all true autobiographical story of his love life and how it has been affected by his first love, the stage.
John’s story has been so artistically crafted that it gained the attention of renowned playwright/lyricist, Amy Hartman. Even before it’s completion, Amy began to become involved with the project to the point of steering John in the direction of reaching more deeply into the wreckage of his love life to pull out the drama and heartaches to forge a more interesting story. Her rendition of John’s saga will be shared as a stage play featuring music from the album on September 13th & 14th at the Oaks Theater in Oakmont just outside of Pittsburgh.
Helping to engineer the journey through his love story are his core of collaborators, including a few of Pittsburgh well known artists: musician & producer David Granati, songwriter Bert Lauble, and singer/songwriter Cherylann Hawk. Other collaborators on this album are well known Pittsburgh musicians Cheryl Rinovato, Joffo Simmons, and Wil E. Try, as well as a few of David Granati’s talented family members, Joey, Hermie and Jules.
When performing live John is accompanied by a highly talented group of players who deliver a great performance : Cherylann Hawk – Vocals, Ian Arthurs – Guitar, Sal Monteverde – Guitar & Vocals, Mark DeMeno – Percussion & Vocals, and cousin Phil Vento – Bass.
Many members of this crew have been with him for more than a decade; and it’s easy to understand why, as Vento consistently showers them with appreciation and accolades. Though a one-of-a-kind performer, he professes a great distaste for the word, “solo,” insisting that, “Without my collaborators, I would not have accomplished anything.
That’s no surprise to those who know him, as he truly is a humble, loving, and grateful person, who treasures his family and friends. Certainly, that comes across, loud and clear, in his honest, from-the-heart songs; and that, undoubtedly, is another quality which endears him to his fans. As he puts it, “If just one person is touched in some small way by one of my songs, that’s the greatest reward that I could receive.”
John has created his own venue to accommodate these musicians… Steamworks Creative is a listening room off Route 8 in Hampton, not far from his home, which has just celebrated its first anniversary in allowing musicians to perform acoustically without the noise and general din of many club venues. He and his crew host open stages and artist showcases, which include an autism friendly open mic.
His passion for autism awareness is quite personal. “My godson is on the spectrum, plus others in our family. Through “Band Together Pittsburgh” we want folks to see how beautiful and talented those on the spectrum really are,” he says. “You would have to come to one of our Autism Friendly Open Mic events to see first-hand what I’m trying to say, it’s amazing on every level.”
“Please don’t give me too much credit. We just create an opportunity where charitable causes can use our performances as a platform for support,” Vento explains. “My inspiration was and is the late great Harry Chapin. He dedicated his life to charitable efforts through his music. He really is my hero.”
He has been very blessed, he adds, and has a sense of obligation to give back as much as possible. When it is suggested to him that musicians in general seem to be among the first to want to aid causes when help is needed, he offers, “Yes, creative people with beautiful hearts.”
Of course, it’s purely logical that Vento would find a great following in this town. His steely resistance to categorization is the very essence and backbone of Pittsburgh. Built by a veritable melting pot of blue-collar workers, the once-gritty city has risen from the slag heap, through the smoke and haze, to become a sparkling, spectacular hub of culture and learning. Yet, it remains true to its deeply-forged identity.
And, through his molten lyrics and passionate delivery, Vento covers that entire spectrum.