Grand AM

As a composer, producer and engineer at The Music Playground in Manhattan, James Panepinto has been the engine behind the soundtracks heard on shows on MTV, A&E and CBS and in films at Sundance, Tribeca and Cannes. But his work on big and small screens represents a small fraction of his creative energy. Panepinto has been even busier outside his career in the music industry, quietly building a massive catalog of riffs, melodies and beats.

Panepinto started his career assisting Grammy-nominated engineer Emily Lazar and Grammy-winning engineer Joe LaPorta who have worked their magic on records from the likes of David Bowie, The Shins and Vampire Weekend. He wasn’t focusing on the fact that he was broke, living in New York and figuring out what to do with his life after abruptly leaving a cozy job in healthcare. Instead, he was taking notes and spending late nights in the studio to make music of his own. “When I first started out, I was working 60 hours every week as an unpaid studio intern,” Panepinto says. “That may sound brutal, but it was one of the best experiences of my life.”

That year paved the way to the past decade — a period during which Panepinto created hundreds of instrumental songs for alternative post-pop project Grand Am. In 2016, he finally decided to open the trunk of ideas, and he found a vocal passenger in David McMillin, lead singer of Chicago-based rock band Fort Frances. “James sent me five demos that absolutely floored me,” McMillin, a singer-songwriter who has been featured on shows on The CW, Netflix and NBC and earned lyrical honors from American Songwriter, said. “Then, he sent me around 50 more.”

Over the next year, the two worked at a furious pace, trading partially-finished tracks and traveling between Chicago and New York for recording sessions. The result is “Waves” — a record that combines Panepinto’s thick layers of sound design with McMillin’s narratives to capture a band at the starting line with the excitement of the possibilities lining the path ahead. From the gritty Jack White-style energy of “I Think I Found” to the laid-back falsetto layers of the Marvin Gaye-inspired “Center of the Circle”, the constant thread that weaves between the 10 songs on “Waves” is movement. This duo is chasing something bigger. “Every minute is a mile, dear, check to check, year to year,” McMillin sings on “All That I Ever Do. “My heart is neither there nor here. It’s somewhere out on the open road.”



Please note, there is a one drink minimum for this show (standing and bar stools) and two drink minimum at tables.

Limited seating is available on a first come first served basis.

Advance tickets are available online until 5:30PM, day of show. Any remaining tickets can be purchased at the door at showtime.

Upcoming Events
Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2