Howie Day

Howie Day’s emotionally resonant lyrics and inventive melodies have earned him both critical praise and a legion of devoted fans. He is known for his energetic, heartfelt shows, where he connects with audiences through the strength of his songwriting and his quirky sense of humor. Day’s warm tenor voice “soars into fluttering, high registers, but also grates with real, pleading grit,” as one critic put it. After sales of over a million records and two Top 10 hits, Day is back on the road in support of his new studio album, Lanterns.

A native of Bangor, Maine, Day began playing piano at age five and guitar at age 12. By 15, he was writing his own songs and performing across New England. Shortly after graduating high school, Day became a fixture at college coffeehouses across the U.S. He wrote, financed and released his first effort, Australia, which was named Best Debut Album at the 2001 Boston Music Awards. The Boston Globe called Day “gorgeously seasoned, far beyond his years” with “a brave, beautiful singing voice.” During his relentless touring schedule, Day began experimenting with effects pedals and loop-sampling techniques as he performed, layering live percussion with vocal harmonies and guitar parts to become a veritable one-man band. He went on to sell over 30,000 copies of Australia as he navigated the independent music scene and continued to hone his craft.

After signing with Epic Records, Day released his major-label debut, Stop All The World Now, and hit the road to support it. The constant promotion paid off: Stop was certified gold in the U.S. and spawned two Top 10 radio hits: “She Says” and the platinum single “Collide.” After three subsequent years of intense worldwide touring, Day moved to Los Angeles and returned to the studio. His next release, Sound the Alarm, built on the emotionally complex spirit of its predecessor and delved into Day’s journey from indie wunderkind to platinum-selling artist. Its lead single, “Be There,” became a staple at modern AC radio.

After parting ways with Epic and relocating to New York City in 2010, Day released the Ceasefire EP on his own label, Daze. Over the next two years, as a reenergized Day toured North America, Australia and Asia, new songs began to emerge and evolve. His fourth full-length album, Lanterns, was recorded in Boston with producer and longtime friend Mike Denneen. Awash with a warm musicality and unique instrumentation, the album also features guest vocals from Aimee Mann. Lanterns was released in April 2015.

Up until now, Frank Viele has been something of a regional secret throughout New England. His quadruple-threat reputation as a singer, guitarist, songwriter and performer is unrivaled there, as recognized by the New England Music Awards for Album of the Year, Male Performer of the Year, and Live Act of The Year he has stashed somewhere in his Connecticut home.

Of course, musically tuned-in folks throughout the world have been hearing reports of Viele’s prowess for several years. No Depression might have piqued their curiosity with its praise for his “vivid storytelling.” Or maybe they read about his singing in The Alternate Root, which observed that his “street growl” could rivet passersby. Howl Magazine even called his shows “transcendent” and predicted that his music “will rattle your bones and penetrate to the core.”

Truth be told, audiences around the country have begun taking notice as Viele plays in further-flung venues. Since his first album, Fall Your Way, dropped in 2015, he’s been called to open for Will Hoge, Blues Traveler, Lee DeWyze, Zach Myers of Shinedown, The Marshall Tucker Band, and in his somewhat wonderstruck words, “artists who have been on my personal playlists for years.”

So all the pieces are in place to establish Frank Viele as a musical phenomenon far beyond his home base. All that’s needed is a spark to launch this rocket.

That’s where What’s His Name? comes in; a tour de force of passion, candor and craft. His singing is unforgettable — rough-edged yet nuanced, straddling that line where poetic interpretation and raw emotion meet. The impressions he made during his early gigs broaden on What’s His Name?. Rugged Americana, deep blues and gut-wrenching soul create a potent new brew on “Cigarettes, Throwing Stones, & Lies.” Unlikely elements — a gentle groove kissed by congas, a milky bass tone and wind chimes — caress Viele’s anguished romanticism on “If You Could Only Read My Mind.” Those same sentiments take on an even sharper edge when lashed with earthy like guitar and stirred by churchy harmonies on “Till The Bourbon’s All Gone.” The sting of betrayal turns up the heat even more over a thumping funk groove on the title cut. And one track, “Pomegranate,” stands out from anything Viele has done before, thanks to the six strings that augment the reflective lyric, courtesy of arranger/cellist Dave Eggar (Ray Lamontagne/Coldplay/Pearl Jam).

Viele had been dividing his schedule between performing, writing and recording on nights and vacation time, which he paid for with a full-time day job. He was fully qualified for both, having graduated as valedictorian from the business school at Marist College, where he minored in music and earned the prestigious Wall Street Journal Award.

Music, though, was always his destiny. “I grew up working in my family’s restaurant,” he remembers. “Instead of typical chores I would peel carrots and potatoes and wash dishes during the week.There were three pool tables that took quarters, so it was also my job to count the quarters on Saturday mornings. I got to keep one of them when I was done, but I always put that quarter into this old jukebox at the restaurant so I could play Billy Joel’s ‘The Longest Time.’ To this day, when I hear that song, I can still smell that dank, stale bar smell that comes with the mess from the busy night before.”

“That,” he adds, “is how I learned what music can do to you.”

He started playing gigs as the leader of Frank Viele & The Manhattan Project, which sported a horn section and a sizzling mix of soul and jam grooves. With Fall Your Way he switched to working solo, cutting the basics of each song on guitar and then adding instruments one by one, crafting the band around each song.

Now, on What’s His Name?, Frank has taken his experience on the road as a solo artist over the last few years into the studio and you can hear pieces of this artistic journey woven throughout this new collection of songs.

“I wrote most of these songs as I was traveling from gig to gig, in parts of the country I’d never seen before. What I experienced helped feed different elements into my music. I had the honor and pleasure of touring with great songwriters like Zach Myers, who exposed me to a lot of new ideas and approaches to the art of the song. I wrote specifically with the idea of making each song more memorable.”

Viele accomplishes his mission on What’s His Name?. Some of the credit goes to the guest artists he welcomed onboard, including Christine Ohlman, lead singer with the Saturday Night Live band who’s also shared the stage with Bruce Springsteen, Brian Wilson, Elvis Costello, Dion and other rock luminaries. But the credit for this milestone release goes ultimately to Viele — to the tough choices he’s made and the high bar he habitually sets, to his uncompromising honesty and commitment to making music that moves rather than sedates the heart and mind.

“I’ve never taken the easy road musically,” Viele insists. “When you hear Otis Redding’s Blue or Bob Seger’s Night Moves, you feel it. Those songs grab you. That’s what music is supposed to do. That’s what I want to do.”

And he does. The proof is in every moment of What’s His Name? and in its aftermath, when you realize what you’ve been missing in your music for a long time — until now.

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