Reproduced with permission from the Staten Island Register, 8/17/2005 edition.


Singing A Story

Musician works to keep country/folk music alive on Staten Island.

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 story."
  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, to today.
  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 Moose Music.
   Hermus, who is approaching retirement soon, is also excited about the prospects of having even more time to devote to his music.
   "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