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Jesse “Harmonica” LaMonaca

Jesse LaMonaca found his inspiration at a My Morning Jacket show at SDSU.
Jesse LaMonaca found his inspiration at a My Morning Jacket show at SDSU.

“People were incredibly generous, sending me contact info for gigs and helping me track down places to sleep,” says Americana singer Jesse LaMonaca, who recently completed a self-booked tour of Australia.

The trek was financed via donations through kickstarter.com. “You set the amount of money you need and choose how long to raise it. If you don’t raise that amount in time, you get none of the money, and people who pledge don’t get charged until the time is up. The money end is handled by Amazon.com…I needed about $2000 to cover the planes, trains, and automobiles, so I set a goal of $2200 to be raised in 30 days. By the end of the month, I had over 30 backers who pledged a total that reached that goal, and then some.”

To earn donations, which ranged from $10 to $375, LaMonaca offered incentives. “For ten dollars or more, I mailed a handwritten postcard from Australia. For $125 or more, I would sit down with them, have a chat, and play a few songs for you live via webcam.”

The tour included dates in Sydney, Fremantle, Margaret River, Perth, and Melbourne. His debut Aussie show was October 29 at Bar Me in Sydney. “The night was not only fun but also a success. I was supposed to play for 40 minutes, and they kept me going for one and a half hours… I sold some CDs and T-shirts. They even have a little VIP wall upstairs they asked me to sign.”

WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

1) Arcade Fire, The Suburbs. “Just bought it, and I already love it.”

2) Eddie Vedder, Into the Wild soundtrack. “This is a great driving album, and it got me hooked on these songs.”

3) Powderfinger, Odyssey Number Five. “I get a nice nostalgic fix from hearing these tunes. They remind me of when I lived in New York City.”

4) Black Keys, The Big Come Up. “This album fires me up and keeps me musically motivated.”

5) Willie Nelson, Greatest Hits (and Some That Will Be). “I’ve been listening to this album on vinyl, cassette, and then CD throughout my life.”

WHAT’S ON YOUR BUCKET LIST TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE?

1) “Own a 1967 Mustang.”

2) “Go on a safari.”

3) “Build my own cabin.”

4) “Become a father.”

5) “Teach my dog Rosco to roll over like I shot him when I point my finger at him and say ‘Bam.’”

BEST VOICE IN THE BIZ?

“I would say it’s a toss-up: Paul McCartney, ’cause he really hasn’t lost anything on those pipes that can belt clean or dirty; or Eddie Vedder, who uses his distinctive voice as a true musical instrument.”

MOST EMBARRASSING CD IN YOUR COLLECTION?

“Pink, Funhouse. Yeah, that’s right, I said it.”

AWESOME BAND NAME?

“And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead is a pretty sweet name. Kind of grabs you right from the get-go, doesn’t it?”

FAVORITE CONCERT?

“My Morning Jacket at the SDSU Open Air Theatre in September 2008. I had just moved to San Diego a few months prior, and I wasn’t feeling much like playing music or doing anything at all. This show turned that around, inspiring me in a way no other concert has.”

ANY PHOBIAS?

“I fear expired foods.”

IF YOU COULD CHOOSE YOUR NICKNAME?

“Harmonica LaMonaca, but I would have to practice like crazy to make this name worthwhile.”

THREE THINGS WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?

1) “I climbed Mt. Rainier, and if I had my way I’d live in a tiny mountain town.”

2) “I lived in Sweden for a time.”

3) “I worked as an actor for a few years. My first gig was in The Sixth Sense, the restaurant scene, where I’m the out-of-focus server holding an ashtray and walking across the back of the room.” ■

Band songs

Jesse LaMonaca

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Jesse LaMonaca found his inspiration at a My Morning Jacket show at SDSU.
Jesse LaMonaca found his inspiration at a My Morning Jacket show at SDSU.

“People were incredibly generous, sending me contact info for gigs and helping me track down places to sleep,” says Americana singer Jesse LaMonaca, who recently completed a self-booked tour of Australia.

The trek was financed via donations through kickstarter.com. “You set the amount of money you need and choose how long to raise it. If you don’t raise that amount in time, you get none of the money, and people who pledge don’t get charged until the time is up. The money end is handled by Amazon.com…I needed about $2000 to cover the planes, trains, and automobiles, so I set a goal of $2200 to be raised in 30 days. By the end of the month, I had over 30 backers who pledged a total that reached that goal, and then some.”

To earn donations, which ranged from $10 to $375, LaMonaca offered incentives. “For ten dollars or more, I mailed a handwritten postcard from Australia. For $125 or more, I would sit down with them, have a chat, and play a few songs for you live via webcam.”

The tour included dates in Sydney, Fremantle, Margaret River, Perth, and Melbourne. His debut Aussie show was October 29 at Bar Me in Sydney. “The night was not only fun but also a success. I was supposed to play for 40 minutes, and they kept me going for one and a half hours… I sold some CDs and T-shirts. They even have a little VIP wall upstairs they asked me to sign.”

WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?

1) Arcade Fire, The Suburbs. “Just bought it, and I already love it.”

2) Eddie Vedder, Into the Wild soundtrack. “This is a great driving album, and it got me hooked on these songs.”

3) Powderfinger, Odyssey Number Five. “I get a nice nostalgic fix from hearing these tunes. They remind me of when I lived in New York City.”

4) Black Keys, The Big Come Up. “This album fires me up and keeps me musically motivated.”

5) Willie Nelson, Greatest Hits (and Some That Will Be). “I’ve been listening to this album on vinyl, cassette, and then CD throughout my life.”

WHAT’S ON YOUR BUCKET LIST TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE?

1) “Own a 1967 Mustang.”

2) “Go on a safari.”

3) “Build my own cabin.”

4) “Become a father.”

5) “Teach my dog Rosco to roll over like I shot him when I point my finger at him and say ‘Bam.’”

BEST VOICE IN THE BIZ?

“I would say it’s a toss-up: Paul McCartney, ’cause he really hasn’t lost anything on those pipes that can belt clean or dirty; or Eddie Vedder, who uses his distinctive voice as a true musical instrument.”

MOST EMBARRASSING CD IN YOUR COLLECTION?

“Pink, Funhouse. Yeah, that’s right, I said it.”

AWESOME BAND NAME?

“And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead is a pretty sweet name. Kind of grabs you right from the get-go, doesn’t it?”

FAVORITE CONCERT?

“My Morning Jacket at the SDSU Open Air Theatre in September 2008. I had just moved to San Diego a few months prior, and I wasn’t feeling much like playing music or doing anything at all. This show turned that around, inspiring me in a way no other concert has.”

ANY PHOBIAS?

“I fear expired foods.”

IF YOU COULD CHOOSE YOUR NICKNAME?

“Harmonica LaMonaca, but I would have to practice like crazy to make this name worthwhile.”

THREE THINGS WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?

1) “I climbed Mt. Rainier, and if I had my way I’d live in a tiny mountain town.”

2) “I lived in Sweden for a time.”

3) “I worked as an actor for a few years. My first gig was in The Sixth Sense, the restaurant scene, where I’m the out-of-focus server holding an ashtray and walking across the back of the room.” ■

Band songs

Jesse LaMonaca

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Outtakes:

ANY ONSTAGE INJURIES? “A little blood here and there, a jammed pinky finger, and a bruise on my leg the size of a basketball from beating it with the tambourine. Nothing major.”

EVER BEEN A CRIME VICTIM? “Someone broke into my truck not too long ago, but thankfully mere ‘things’ can be replaced pretty easily.”

SONG THAT BEST DESCRIBES YOUR LIFE? “For awhile now, I’ve felt like every word of Johnny Cash’s ‘I Still Miss Someone.’ I miss those arms that held me when all the love was there I wonder if she’s sorry for leavin’ what we’d begun there’s someone for me somewhere and I still miss someone.”

And non-musical endeavors while in the land down under?

“I ate kangaroo. And I liked it.”

Jan. 1, 2011

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