Oct. 07--Johnny Searfoss picked up the guitar at the age of 6, and eventually found it impossible to put down.
"By the time I was 10, I was out of-my-mind serious about the guitar," the Jim Thorpe native said.
Searfoss recently released his debut album, a guitar-laden masterpiece that's a testament to his versatility as both a guitar player and songwriter.
A release party for the self-titled compact disc and a featured single, "The Best Day of My Life," will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Portanova's Music Center, 215 E. Juniper St., Hazleton. Searfoss and several of the Hazleton-area musicians who lent their talents to the project will be on hand.
"All these years, everybody was after me to do it," Searfoss said of an album of homespun music.
He wanted to record one but the timing never seemed right.
"With life, you get sidetracked," he explained, "but finally there was a time when I said, 'This is it. I'm tired of waiting around.'"
Searfoss penned the majority of songs featured on the album in 1996. While listeners will detect a strong blues influence, each song is original in its own way.
"The album has a little taste of this and a little taste of that," he said, noting that the idea behind the album was for "sort of a demo showcasing some of the many styles of music I enjoy playing."
The album cover is an old photograph of Searfoss, giving the thumbs up and playing one of his first guitars. On the CD, he sings and plays guitar, bass, drums and percussion.
Seven of the 10 songs are instrumentals, and one, "Sleepwalk," is the 1959 classic by Santo and Johnny. The CD single, "The Best Day of My Life," is a heartfelt yet upbeat tune Searfoss penned for his wife, Valerie.
"I've been in such a good mood. It feels so good and I'm so happy to have gotten this project off the ground," he said.
Searfoss, who moved to Larksville several years ago, has close musical ties to Hazleton. At 14, he started teaching guitar lessons in the area, and soon thereafter, joined the Hazleton-based bands Strider and Something Wet. He worked at the former C&C Music in Hazleton, and currently teaches guitar lessons from four locations, including Portanova's Music. Searfoss is also a disc jockey with Harry C. Productions of Hazleton, and plays in the bands Cousins and The Soul Rebels.
He chose to work with local musicians Nick Lauro, Joe Bogwist and Matt McGasko on the album.
"I've been really lucky to get to work with some awesome people," he said.
The CD and single will be available for purchase at the release party. Those who are unable to attend can purchase it at Portanova's; through Searfoss' website, www.johnnysear foss.com, or at CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes and other online stores.
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