Get your Good.Live.Music

Kim Rodia

Local musicians make music a way of life

Solo artists Randy Horvath, freshman psychology major, and Jim Casto, a Kent State graduate, performed at the Water Street Tavern last night. Erik Urycki of The Speedbumps, a senior public relations major, also performed at the bar. Rachel Kilroy | Daily

Credit: DKS Editors

Good.Live.Music.: The name says it all. This weekly musical event showcases the original works of young local artists in an attempt to put some life back into the Kent music scene.

Every Wednesday, the Water Street Tavern hosts a “Good.Live.Music.” night from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., featuring Kent State students Erik Urycki, Randy Horvath and different guest performers each week.

Urycki, senior public relations major, said he is working with other artists in the area to try to recreate the musical success Kent experienced several decades ago.

“Kent in the ’70s was a huge music scene,” he said. “There are a few reasons why it’s not like that anymore, but the thing with Kent is that the talent is actually still here. It’s just that, for whatever reason, the clubs and the talent and the students haven’t really gotten behind a music scene.

“So what we decided is to all just work together and see if we can create one again. It can be done because the talent is there; we just have to be able to promote. And that’s really what we’re doing Wednesday nights down at Water Street. It’s a great opportunity for that.”

Horvath, freshman psychology major, agreed.

“Kent has a really, really good music scene,” Horvath said. “There are a lot of musicians in Kent with lots and lots of talent and a lot of people that need to be heard.”

Mike Beder, owner of the Water Street Tavern, said the Good.Live.Music. nights feature primarily singer/songwriters. He said the evening is rooted in original material, but the musicians will cover songs by their favorite musicians as well.

“We mix bands in occasionally, but it’s more of an acoustic show,” Beder said. “Randy has very powerful vocals and a dynamic strumming style to match. Erik is a little softer and does more finger-picking. Erik’s band, The Speedbumps, is a national touring band that has played with many major label acts. Wednesdays are an opportunity for people who enjoy his band to see him in a more intimate setting.”

Urycki is pursuing a career as a full-time musician. His band recently released its second album, and last fall he teamed up with another local artist, Andy Dolson, to start his own record label, Leta Records.

“The only goal I really have right now is to make music my only form of income,” he said. “I want to be able to write songs as a job. I want to be a songwriter. That’s the goal. So if things keep going as they are going, I might get that chance. Right now it’s just a really glorified hobby.”

Jim Casto, a recent Kent State graduate with a degree in marketing, often joins Horvath and Urycki on stage. He, on the other hand, said he isn’t planning on making it big in the industry. But if his writing catches someone’s ear or makes someone feel good, then he’s happy.

Horvath agreed, saying although he would love to make a career out of his music, he decided it might be better to keep it as just a hobby.

“I really just didn’t want to make music a job, to where it would become something I had to study consistently and make it work,” he said. “I would probably loathe it after a while, so I just decided to do it on my own time and have it for something for me, instead of something for study.”

Horvath said he has always loved music and began producing his own at an early age.

“I’ve been writing and playing guitar since I was 12,” he said. “Now, whenever I end up recording albums, I’m the person that produces it. I learned just by hanging around people that knew the business and people that knew how to work the recording equipment, hanging around studios, watching other friends record and sitting in on their sessions.”

Casto said producing music can be a long, frustrating process.

“Since the day I picked up a guitar, I have been trying to write music,” he said. “It has not been an easy process at all. I’ve been writing music for about seven years now, and just in the past year or so I have written songs I can actually say I’m proud of. I’ll sit in front of a computer, and if something doesn’t come to me right away I put my guitar down and get frustrated. I’m not very patient when it comes to writing.”

All three artists use real-life experiences as the inspiration behind their music.

“I write from personal experience. Whether it’s from dating, breaking up or losing a good friend, I try to be as honest as possible,” Casto said. “The songs I would try to write when I was younger would be somewhat meaningless. Now that I’ve grown up a little bit and had those experiences, I believe there’s a little more behind the words I write. It’s tough to sing about something that you don’t understand yourself.”

Horvath said he’s inspired by “life in general.”

“Just taking my own situations and other people’s situations and trying to put them down on a page and tell their story,” he said. “And maybe (my songs) will relate to somebody else, and they can grab hold of it and be like, ‘Yeah, I’ve been through that, too.'”

Urycki, however, said he uses his songs more for therapy than a medium for storytelling.

“A lot of my inspiration comes from problems I’m having or situations that make me more emotional than others,” he said. “Pretty much everything in my life is an influence.”

Although the artists may not have the same career goals or songwriting methods, they do have very similar advice for aspiring musicians like themselves.

“You have to be open-minded,” Casto said. “Be ready to take criticism and advice and use it to better yourself as a songwriter. Play as many shows as possible. Whether it’s opening the stage at FlashFest or open mic at the local Laundromat or bar, get your music heard.”

Urycki agreed.

“Do anything you can to get on a stage,” Urycki said. “It takes hours. Just like putting in hours on learning how to ride a bike, as many hours as it took learning how to play an instrument, that’s how many hours it takes to learn how to play on stage. And I think that’s the key. If somebody can get comfortable being on a stage, playing their own songs, then they’re way ahead of a lot of people.”

Contact off-campus entertainment reporter Kim Rodia at [email protected].