Jersey City, NJ’s Gary Van Miert says he has always had an interest music, especially that point where blues, country and gospel music intersect. A fan of the Elvis Presley, Ernest Tubbs era of music that came out of Sun Studios in Memphis in the 1950’s, Gary said, “they captured lightning in a bottle and changed the world.”
Playing music for Gary was mostly a hobby until his early 50s when he decided to start pursuing his passion professionally. His offering now comes to us as the band, The Sensational Country Blues Wonders, and their first album of original material, The World Will Break Your Heart,” heads your way on November 13, 2020.
“This was something I always thought I’d like to do when I retired,” Gary told us. “There was this amazing art and music scene going on in Jersey City and Hoboken New Jersey, so I just decided I wasn’t going to wait any longer.”
Gary discovered a lot of the great blues and country singers through listening to Elvis’ cover songs. “I’m a big Carl Perkins fan too,” he said. “When I was five years old I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, that’s what got me started.” As he got older and interest grew, he started tracing the music to its origins. “I realized that the Beatles had recorded three Carl Perkins songs. And Carl had been influenced by Hank Williams, so I went out and bought Hank’s records – so that’s how the process came about.”
Gary and his band made a name for themselves by donning the period clothing and performing sets of those classic tunes. He’s become a local cult figure in his area of the country where he honed his skills playing nightclubs in New Jersey, Manhattan, Brooklyn and the like. They’ve played all types of venues too, including cemeteries, lumberyards, mansions, and even a department store. Along the way, they’ve opened for nationally known artists such as Marshall Crenshaw, Evan Dando, and The Smithereens.
The World Will Break Your Heart is Gary’s first album of original songs. “I have my own unique interpretation of American roots music,” he said. “Classic country music from the 50s and 60s, down-home spiritual songs from the golden age of gospel, and time-honored blues numbers that go back to the greats hailing from Mississippi and Chicago. I combine all these elements to create a unique musical experience.”
“I attempted to write my own songs when I was younger and they weren’t very good,” Gary said. “I think what’s working for me now is life experience and a greater understanding of music. With age, I’ve broadened my horizons and developed an appreciation for many different genres of music. If the songs I’ve written are any good, it’s because I am standing on the shoulders of giants.”
Gary also hosts his own broadcast program created for his local library. He gets to talk about the history of this music he loves, and then demonstrate the songs in a half hour, weekly show.