Donnie and Joe Emerson: A dream deferred
All parents think their kids are talented. They may encourage that talent with things like piano or ballet lessons.
Donnie and Joe Emerson’s father went far beyond that.
In the late 1970s, he built a recording studio on his farm so his teenage sons could record an album of original songs. Instead of rocketing them to fame, the album of soulful soft rock went nowhere, and Emerson eventually had to sell much of his farmland to pay the bills he racked up promoting them.
Then, in 2008, a collector discovered the album and posted some tracks online. This eventually led to indie musician Ariel Pink covering one of the songs and a reissue from record label Light in the Attic, which is known for rediscovering Rodriguez, of “Searching for Sugar Man” fame.
Now the Emersons are playing their old songs for new fans, including their first-ever performance in New York City.
amNY spoke with Donnie about the band.
When you released your album “Dreamin’ Wild,” did you believe you were destined for stardom?
I think every kid at that age thinks of that. Since I was 7 or 8, I was always mesmerized by writing songs.
Do you have any regrets over what it cost your family?
That was always in the back of my mind, but it was different back then. We worked like grown-ups on the farm. We didn’t think anything of it that my father was putting so much effort into [OUR MUSIC].
When did you realize there was new interest in the music you made years ago?
My daughter was online. She’s really into music. She said, “Daddy, you and Uncle Joe are on the Internet with “Dreamin’ Wild.” It freaked me out. After that, I started getting all these calls from underground record collectors.
What does your dad think about all of this?
My brother doesn’t like to go into big cities, but we were talking one day and I said to Joe, “We owe this to our parents to go where the fans are.” Even though it’s been 35 years, it was never my father’s intent for us to stay on the farm. He wanted us to go out and play this music.
If you go: Donnie & Joe Emerson are at Mercury Lounge on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., 217 E. Houston St., 212-260-4700, $15.