One More Fourth Of July
Jackson Rohm, 42, has been performing live in Jamestown and the surrounding region since 1985, but in late July he’ll relocate to Northern California.
Rohm’s farewell show is set for Saturday, July 27, from 9:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. at The Village Casino, 1 Lakeside Drive in Bemus Point. But, before that there are several other opportunities to catch Rohm in the area.
Rohm, who has toured across the country and recorded seven albums, isn’t going to California to continue his musical career, rather he will take on a new challenge by dusting off a finance degree he obtained in his 20s.
Rohm currently resides in Buffalo with his wife, Theresa, a Syracuse native, and their dog Auggie, who will join Rohm on his new adventure.
According to Rohm, he and Theresa will sell their home, and everything they own, to move west where Rohm will take on a job in sales at a tech company and Theresa, who is a teacher, also found a teaching job in Northern California. Rohm has been a full-time touring musician for more than 20 years.
“It was a difficult decision and still is a difficult transition because I honestly love music – I love making music, I love recording music, I love writing music and I love performing music,” said Rohm. “But, the reality is that as I get older it’s getting more and more difficult to continue with that lifestyle. It would be a different story if I was playing to sold-out arenas in cities around the world to people who listen to only my music. But, I’m traveling around from Indianapolis to Chicago, back to Buffalo to New York City then down through Atlanta and Florida. I enjoy it, but it takes a toll on a person. Playing late-night shows in bars when I was in my 20s was a lot of fun, but now it doesn’t have the same appeal – especially since I’m married.”
Rohm never plans on giving up music, he just wants to get off the road, he said. He hopes that if he isn’t playing numerous shows in a row, that he will actually look forward to the less frequent ones that he still wants to play.
“Not to discount how grateful I am to have had a 20-plus year career of not having to have a day job and making a living just by playing music, but I’ve been craving an opportunity to use that old dusty finance degree that I got in my back pocket,” said Rohm. “A friend in Northern California – San Francisco – gave me an opportunity and I thought, ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ If I don’t like it or I’m not good at it I always have my music and if I wanted to go back to music full-time I honestly feel I could do that. There are moments where it is scary, but overall I am excited and can’t wait to try it.
“I want to express my gratitude for something that I did as a hobby to start that blossomed into something so near and dear to my heart – talk about a labor of love,” continued Rohm. “It’s been a lot of hard work, but also something I feel very fortunate to be able to do. It’s tough to say goodbye to it, but I’ll always come back to do this. This won’t be the last show in Jamestown, for sure, because Jamestown will always be home. And, there will definitely be more of my music released at some point.”
Rohm, a Lakewood native and a 1989 graduate of Southwestern High School, first began his musical career in sixth grade when he teamed up with a group of friends, Rod Welling, drummer; Aaron Carlson, bassist; and Ryan Fischer, guitarist.
“I started hanging out with these guys and developing a love of music,” said Rohm. “We went up to Buffalo for concerts, such as Bon Jovi and KISS. I was lucky enough to have a supportive family so that if I wanted to try something, like going out for baseball, which didn’t work out as well as I’d hoped, they were supportive of that. So they bought me a cheap instrument to see if I’d like it and I began taking guitar lessons at Germain and Poppalardo’s under guitar teacher Bob Jones. Our band was called Sapphire, and our first gig was at a Southwestern Middle School dance in 1985. We were playing a lot of God awful Dokken, Van Halen and Ozzie Osbourne songs.”
When Rohm and the others got to high school they began moving in separate directions. The band continued playing music, while Rohm decided to take on track and cross country.
“In high school my identity was Jackson the guy that ran track because it was the only thing I seemed to be good at at the time,” said Rohm. “I was hoping to get a track scholarship to continue running, which I did at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Division 1 track and field was such a full-time job that I eventually lost my love of it and began to pick up other hobbies such as rugby and guitar again.”
Then during Rohm’s junior year he met a guy in his fraternity who was playing solo acoustic shows out at bars, making money and having fun – which inspired him to start learning some covers. By then he got out of the hard rock stuff of the 1980s and was listening to more folk music such as Simon and Garfunkel, Cat Stevens and Indigo Girls. While home visiting family and waiting tables as a summer job, Rohm went to see Bill Ward performing at Webb’s Captain’s Table in Mayville.
“My dad had known Bill and he convinced him to let me sit in for a song or two on his break,” said Rohm. “I think I had just turned 21 at the time and had I learned a handful of songs. So I got up there and did some terrible version of (Jimmy Buffet’s) ‘Margaritaville’ and mustered up the courage at that point to say that I wanted to do what Bill was doing – I want to play guitar. So I went to Fredonia to Costello’s Music and bought a used PA system before I’d ever even played a show thinking, ‘This will make me do it.'”
Snug Harbor Lounge was one of Rohm’s hangout spots while summering in Chautauqua, and he convinced the owner to hire him to play Tuesdays.
“I remember being in the bathroom drying heaving from nerves because I was so scared to get up there and play in front of people back then,” said Rohm. “But, I started to loosen up after a couple of songs and then it was fun – that was the start.”
Rohm returned to Miami University for his senior year and began getting gigs on Wednesday nights.
“Honestly I was so terrible back then, but I had enough friends that would come out and support me that the bar made money so they could pay me and over time I started getting a little bit better,” said Rohm.
EDUCATION OR MUSIC
Rohm graduated in 1993 from Miami University with a degree in finance and was determined to become a lawyer. He applied to various law schools, and was accepted to Loyola University of Chicago, although he really wanted to attend University at Buffalo.
“University at Buffalo had waitlisted me so I decided to take a year off and reapply,” said Rohm. “I spent the year back in Oxford, Ohio basically playing guitar at bars and traveling around Cincinnati to get into other venues.”
“It wasn’t long before I realized that I really loved playing music and although I had been accepted to University at Buffalo in 1994 my heart wasn’t in it,” Rohm continued.
At that point Rohm really started getting into playing music more and was getting gigs around Chautauqua in places besides just Snugs such as Webb’s and an occasional Monday at the Village Casino, which was Wing Night back then. He got through a semester of law school and determined that he’d take a leave of absence to be sure it was what he wanted to do before he found himself further in debt.
“I moved out to Cincinnati for a stint to play closer to Miami University where I had built up a listener-base,” said Rohm. “I was traveling back and forth because I also started playing in Buffalo at a place called The Steer. I had some friends who were moving to Charlotte, N.C., and I thought, ‘This is my big chance.'”
So, Rohm and a couple of high school friends moved to Charlotte. He began trying to get gigs, which was hard because it was a new city and he had to find friends to come and support him. He found that he wasn’t making as much money as he did back home, and decided to try Atlanta instead. All the while he was spending summers back in Chautauqua, traveling to and from Buffalo and stopping at various venues in between. That’s when he was paired up with Aaron Thompson, a guitarist who wanted to be a studio producer, to record his first album in 2000 entitled “Twisted and Misguided.” Thompson went on to record six out of seven of Rohm’s albums.
“I basically recorded the first 10 songs I had ever written,” said Rohm. “I didn’t know what to expect … But when I released my first original CD and people enjoyed it I thought, ‘Wow, why didn’t I do this sooner?’ Here I’ve been playing cover songs for so long, passing the time and never taking it that seriously. I think that was the moment where I went from thinking that music was just a temporary career to being something I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Rohm moved back home after the release of the CD and started playing Jamestown and Chautauqua venues such as Snugs, The Village Casino, The Surf Club, The Big Tree and Shawbucks. When he released his second CD in 2002, “Sink or Swim,” Rohm formed a relationship with Terry Lamar, who began playing “Rio” on the radio.
“To this day ‘Rio’ is probably the most popular and most requested song that I’ve written,” said Rohm. “I still remember the high that you get the first time you hear your song playing on the radio.”
Lamar was involved in hosting the Kiss the Summer Hello concert in Buffalo and asked Rohm if he could take an eight-song set slot on the main stage.
“They paid me well for it, I had a lot of exposure to thousands of people and it was definitely one of the high points of my young career,” said Rohm. “That’s when I decided to get the band together. So, I called up Rod Welling, Jamie Trussler and Mike Buffone and Jane Fischer to start playing some shows. We’d play as many originals as we could and then throw in some covers to fill out the night. I was still doing the solo acoustic nights, but I really looked forward to playing with the band where I could showcase the music I had written.”
Welling passed away in 2004, which was when the band broke up. Rohm authored a song in Wellings honor, entitled “Four On The Floor,” which later appeared as the title track on his 2006 album.
Rohm released his best-selling CD, “Red Light Fever” in 2003. The CD was getting a lot of radio play, and the song “One More Fourth of July” made it to the fourth most played song. “Bleeding” also did quite well on the radio, and “Rio” was still in regular rotation.
“Suddenly my following was expanding because of the support from local radio,” said Rohm. “So, I started booking free all-ages outdoor community shows at Mayville Park, Celoron Park and Lakewood beach. And, I began playing a lot of benefit shows as well. They were an opportunity for me to give back to the community and thank them for the support they had given me.”
In 2006, Rohm released “Four On The Floor,” which was a big deal because it had the song “Gasoline and Matches.” Next to “Rio” the song was the most requested. He followed the CD up with a country album recorded in Nashville entitled “Long Way From Moving On,” which was released in 2008. The album earned him radio play on country stations, garnering him even further exposure to listeners of different genres. Rohm also recorded an acoustic album in Nashville called “Acoustic Sessions” in 2010. His latest CD, “Blindsided,” which was released in 2012, featured a title track he had written for his wife, Theresa. The song acted as the couple’s first dance at their wedding in August, said Rohm.
For more information visit www.jacksonrohm.com.