Local artist on Big Ticket
By: Chris Illich
Right now is an exciting time for local singer/songwriter Joe Lapinski. He recently won the Trillium Arts “Emerging Artist of the year” from the City of St. Catharines, and he has been awarded the opportunity to play a high profile gig at St. Catharines’ Grape and Wine Festival opening up for local music legend Daniel Lanois on Sept. 25.
Playing a show of this stature is somewhat of a new thing for Lapinski. After nine years of playing in the local music scene in various bands, he said that “this will definitely be biggest thing I’ve ever played. I’ve played some smaller festivals, but I think this will definitely surpass those.”
When not playing with his band, “The Joe Lapinski Band”, Lapinski works as a record label owner and as the musical director for local theatre group Suitcase in Point. His record label has been around since 1999 and Lapinski started it so that his first band, Palooka, could release their first album.
Making a living in a small city is not easy when your area of expertise is what some people call a dying industry. Lapinski has been successful in turning his passion into his job and lifestyle.
“In the past, I saw my musical career as something on the side, but now I’m pretty much self-employed,” he said. “I’ve been working as a musician and working on label stuff, which is basically running a studio, recording bands and mastering albums.”
When Lapinski is not working on projects related to his record label or one of his many bands he plays in, he pre-records scores for local group Suitcase in Point’s theatre productions. Lapinski said that he basically fell into the role of musical director.
“I was less of an actor than the other musicians. Soundtrack music is what I always wanted to do, and it’s still something that I want to keep doing. Being able to compose pieces for theatre was amazing. It’s a huge passion of mine.”
For Lapinski, the sense of community is a strong ideology. His main priority right now is to try and build a thriving art community in St. Catharines.
“The more home-grown the community is, the more original and natural the art is going to be,” said Lapinski. “When you move to a city like Toronto you might jump into a community that’s already started, and to me that’s the easy way out. To stay in St. Catharines, I had to really commit myself to the idea of a community in St. Catharines.”
After staying grounded in St. Catharines’ arts and music community for years, Lapinski has been critically recognized by the St. Catharines’ community as a whole by winning the Trillium Arts award. While he is honoured to have his work officially acknowledged, Lapinski says that he has just began the process of fulfilling his vision.
“It’s kind of weird to win an Emerging Artist award, because every artist is emerging for the rest of their lives. They should be discovering new things about themselves and their art,” said Lapinski. “It’s kind of cool that I’ve gotten recognized for my work by being awarded cool gigs, and an award, but I feel like I’ve only started to scratch the surface, especially in St. Catharines. It’s a tough job to keep at it here, but hopefully I’ll be able to influence other people to make their own in St. Catharines too.”