By Barbara Russo
Staten Island Register
With the Country Music Awards coming to New
York City this year, folk fans like Gary Paul Hermus are hoping the
genre will come back to life here. Although hip-hop and dance music
dominates on Staten Island, Hermus is a singer/songwriter who's trying
to do his part in keeping country and folk alive in our area.
Hermus, who is also a full time computer network
administrator for the Staten Island Developmental Disabilities Office
in Willowbrook, makes a supplementary income touring coffee houses and
pubs on the island, introducing patrons to his original folk music.
Some of the popular island venues the 54-year-old
Morristown, N.J. resident has played at include The Muddy Cup, The
Perking Latte, and the new E-Squared Cafe in Tottenville.
To Hermus, singing for the community is something he does
to give them a bit of variety in the music scene on Staten Island.
"I play places where people go to hear something a little
different, but they don't want to hear punk or dance or hip-hop," he
said. "What I do is give something to people who want to listen to a
And telling stories is exactly what he
does. In his song, "Johnny B.," he sings about a gas station attendant
who also happens to enjoy racing corvettes.
In yet another melody, he sings about a lonely coffee shop
customer who is looking for love. Or at least companionship, as the
song ventures out to prove.
The lyrics, Hermus believes, are overlooked in some popular
songs, drowned out by the loud production in the background. As a guy
accompanied only by a guitar, he knows the value of truly beautiful
words on stage.
Gary Paul Hermus wants to keep country/folk music alive
on Staten Island.
According to Hermus. the popular television
show of the
90's, "MTV Unplugged," did a good job of stripping the production away
from songs that were considered rock, hard rock or even metal. One
example he gives is Jon Bon Jovi's rock hit, "Living on a Prayer."
"It has beautiful lyrics that you can hear when he sings it
with just one guitar," Hermus explained.
A lifelong musician who started out in a
variety of bands as a teenager growing up on Staten Island, Hermus gets
most of his inspiration for his songs from his life.
He describes his life as a "colorful" one, filled with
lots of experiences from the time he was born in Brownsville, Brooklyn,
Finding time to write music and compile his
first CD, due out next year, is easy, he said, because he enjoys doing
it. He also said his knowledge of computer helps streamline the
marketing, promotions and production process.
"You'd be surpirsed how computers have changed the face of
music," he said. "Most negotioations [for shows] are done on line. You
could basically be your own booking agent."
He has also been able to create his own record label, Big
Hermus, who is approaching retirement soon, is also
excited about the prospects of having even more time to devote to his
"I plan to devote much more time to msic. When the CD
comes out, I want to sell it in places like Mandolin Bros.," he said.
"But at this point, I just want to enjoy what I create."
For those who want to hear Hermus' music, he'll be
performing at the E Squared Cafe in Tottenville on Aug. 20 at 8p.m.
For more information about the artis, or to sample his
music, visit the web site http://www.garypaulhermus.com.