It takes a certain level of courage to go out on stage under your own name. For years, Chris Buono said he hid under various band names. This year, Chris has decided to take center stage and place his own name and reputation on the marque. In doing so, he hopes to further his career in more ways than one.
Chris Buono is one of the most talented guitarists in the area. He's a staff member at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He teaches at Berklee once a week and also provides private instruction at his house in Toms River and in New York City.
Even though he's led bands before, this is the first time he's done shows billed just as Chris Buono, an Avante-Jazz/Rock guitarist.
"I'm exposing myself a little more," said Buono. "It's a little more nervewrecking."
Buono believes that by putting his name out there as much as possible it will ultimately help his teaching career as well as his career as a performing artist. He's played recent shows at the Grenville in Bay Head and Paul's Cabin in Belmar.
"I may have hurt myself by using all of these other names of bands and not concentrating on one or two," he continued. "I would just get a gig, a bunch of guys and put a name on it. But I shouldn't have been doing that. I should have been doing what someone like Pat Methany does. Pat Methany is Pat Methany no matter what he's doing. He's got the Pat Methany Group and usually that's the same set of guys and a certain type of material, but other than that everything else that he does he's Pat Methany. When he guests on a record that name is so important now that you put it on the cover of your record. You put 'featuring Pat Methany.'"
If that sounds a bit ambitious consider the fact that Buono recently had his book, "Jazz Lead Guitar Solos," published by Alfred Publications - a very well respected publisher for music books. The 96-page book is geared towards blues and rock players who are trying to learn the concepts of jazz improvization. He's approaching his publisher with an idea for another book, but he's also got grander plans this time around. He's hoping to be able to create a DVD series of his lessons.
Whether he's teaching at Berklee or at home, Buono tries to help his students find their own groove.
"I'm always trying to get a guy to find out who he is," said Buono. "Because that's the only way my career ever got going. Things started to happen when I finally started to listen to all of the musicians that told me to find your own voice. It takes a while to understand what the hell they're talking about. I'm trying to get guys to find their own thing and I'm trying to show them what I'm doing. Like with my gig at the Grenville (in Bay Head.) I'm doing the gig, doing what they ask me, but I'm doing it my own way and doing it with my own colors and sounds. It's not an easy thing to do."
Buono's style of music isn't one that has been seen too often in this area. In addition to his somewhat normal jazz shows at the Grenville, he's let it all out at places like Paul's Cabin in Belmar. Those crowds have seen him taking a chance and experimenting on stage. Luckily for him, fans of the jamband scene have started coming out to his shows and enjoying what they see.
"The last time I played Paul's was the best one," said Buono. "I had the most people there I've never seen before. They even came from across the street. There were a bunch of hippies there and they were enjoying themselves. I saw one make a call on his cellphone and hold the phone up while I was playing. Within the next twenty minutes all of them came in from McCann's across the street and hung out for the second set.
"I'm putting out my own music, and my own arrangements of some tunes. And I'm getting a mixed response. People either love it or simply don't get it."
While his performing career is just getting back in swing, Buono's teaching career has been building ever since he was named to the staff at Berklee. He's been getting emails from people all over the world seeking private instruction. Currently, he has regular students come to his house for instruction from as far away as Philadelphia and New York City.
If you're looking for a top notch instructor, visit www.chrisbuono.com and see how he can help you find your own voice - just as he has.
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.