Joe Belmont Experience is comprised of accomplished veterans of the Northeast music scene playing a cohesive blend of divergent elements of jazz, original songs and compositions, funk, classic songs, Chicago blues, and jamming.
Joe Belmont has been a professional guitarist for over forty years, and has extensive performance and recording experience in a wide variety of styles with many musical ensembles. At 65 years old, Joe Belmont’s new solo project began two years ago after he made the decision to make uncompromisingly creative music exactly as he envisioned it.
“I’ve done this my whole life and I’ve made my living as a musician, but this is the first time I’ve been a band leader,” Belmont said. “I was at the point where I was in a number of bands and I figured what I wanted to do was eliminate everything else and concentrate on this one project, and become a specialist.”
Now that their debut album is out, the band is focusing on playing shows consistently, building their fan base and perfecting their style. The Joe Belmont Experience released their debut album The Essential Experience, Vol. 1 last July.
“Hawks and Reed was really big for us because they really gave us the opportunity to play often and rehearse,” Belmont said. “For a while we were playing there the first Sunday of every month. I really credit them for having helped us out a lot.”
Joe Belmont has released two CDs of his own music, and produced and performed on numerous other recordings. He played with world beat band Viva Quetzal for over 20 years where he connected with bandmates Rudi Weeks (bass) and Eliezar Martinez (drums). Since 1990, Joe has taught on the Performance Faculty at Amherst College, and currently serves as Director of Jazz at the Northampton Community Music Center.
“A lot of people say we’re a jazz group. I don’t hear it,” Belmont said. He categorizes the band as jazz and jam, but draws influence from all the musical styles he’s encountered in his long career as a guitarist.
Belmont started making music as a teenager in NYC writing songs for his band, Charlie Quasar, that he started with his brother. Toward the end of the band’s tenure, Joe began music school, studying at the City University of New York, and receiving a BA in 1977.
After graduating, Belmont moved to Northampton and became immersed in the music scene, playing a dizzying variety of styles, with numerous bands like the Hamptones, Urban Renewal and Fresh Squeeze. In 1986 he released a cassette of his acoustic guitar compositions entitled “First Edition”, which became a local best-seller.
“I have begun writing songs for the band, along with the instrumental compositions I’ve contributed. Songwriting is interesting because you have to be coming from somewhere, you have to be coming from a place,” Belmonst said. “I think the inspiration for the songs I’m writing is I’m trying to say something.”
Over the last decade, Belmont has been reading more about history and metaphysics and applying some of these ideas to his songwriting style. Lyrically, Belmont draws inspiration from Bob Dylan’s memoir Chronicles: Volume One, and the music of Mark Knopfler from Dire Straits.
Joe played guitar, arranged and wrote music for the band Quetzal from 1991 thru 2003, recording three CD’s and traveled to numerous shows and festivals across the country. In 2003 Joe began his solo career, first releasing the CD “Sketches from the Journey Home.” “Sketches” is a collection of intimate guitar pieces, each depicting an aspect of Joe’s life. Joe then embarked on a two year project transcribing and learning the music of Wes Montgomery, and teamed with a team of talented musicians to produce the CD “Joe Belmont and the Fellowship of Wes,” released in 2007. In 2010 he released the self-titled “Duo Fusion” CD along with flutist Sarah Swersey. In 2013 he served as Music Director for the world premier of Grammy and Tony winners Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik’s play “Arms on Fire.”
The Joe Belmont Experience has played local festivals and music venues like Hawks and Reed, the Iron Horse, Gateway City Arts and others. The band’s drummer, Eliezer Martinez has played tours with the television show The Voice’s Road Show. Rudi Weeks has toured with Ronnie Spector, The Contours, & The Crests. He has also performed shows with bluegrass, and folk legends Tom Paxton, Kenny Kosek, and Tony Trischka.