House of Essex: Blending Musical Influences, Creating a New Sound
Learning that Maplewood, NJ had become a hotspot for music and musical talent surprised no one more than this New Jersey native. But apparently, it has. Starting with a two-day music festival called Maplewoodstock now nine years old, the township of Maplewood, located twenty miles outside of New York City, is quietly becoming a landing spot for musicians. This year’s Maplewoodstock provided the debut performance of local band House of Essex, an eclectic, vintage rock band oozing with talent and experience.
House of Essex lead vocalist, songwriter and keyboardist Tim Welch, formed the group, adding each complementary member slowly and methodically. Veteran drummer David Longworth was the first on board, bringing the experience of playing nationally and internationally with renowned artists such as Phoebe Snow, Southside Johnny and Bruce Springsteen. David also can be found playing with LaBamba and the Hubcaps. Bassist Gregory Jones involvement with top tier artists goes back to Sly & the Family Stone. With Brazilian, Cuban, Afro and Funk influences, Gregory adds his unique style with David’s in creating a first-class rhythm section. Guitarist Courtney Sappington does more than just play guitar, he creates punctuation with it. Think exclamation point. A veteran of Broadway orchestras, Courtney has also toured extensively with artists from Garland Jeffries to Bobby Womack. Lora McFarlane-Tazewell brings her R&B, Soul, Jazz and Reggae influences into the band, empowering her rich vocal range.
While each member of the House of Essex equation is a skilled, stand-alone musician, the sum of its parts is absolute magic. The band sat down for a talk about beginnings, creativity and of course…music.
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Kats's Theory: You all come from various musical backgrounds with huge amounts of experience. How did you all actually meet?
David: I was doing a local collegiate theatre prep production, I was in the pit and Tim was the conductor. We met at a great time, hooked up and he said “Well, I was thinking, do you do drum lessons? Why don’t you come over and do a drum lesson?” So I said sure. I go over there to do one lesson and he says ”Well I have some original tunes, you want to hear them…maybe you could do the recording on some of my tunes.” I said yeah and we started getting to know each other in a different kind of way. In one of the sessions he goes “Would you know a bass player around?” Gregory is someone I’ve known for years, more professionally than anything else, and I said I’ll give him a call. Greg came over and the three of us for six months every Thursday from 10-12, we got together working out tunes. I mean religiously. And it ain’t about money or anything else, we didn’t even know if we were gonna gig or anything like that. We just really enjoyed each other’s company, musically speaking and personally. We started to form a sort of bond and some of the songs on the CD were from the original trio thing.