It’s Friday night and Long Islanders trek out to exit 71 on the LIE to hear some Billy Joel music from the Lords of 52nd Street at the Suffolk Theater in Riverhead. In between bites of steak and grilled tuna, their ears perk up as the opening act draws attention. His name is Chris Milo and he fearlessly stands on stage entertaining the audience armed with just a guitar and loop pedal. Once his fingers hit the fretboard, it’s clear this young man has some talent to offer. What the crowd doesn’t realize is they are getting a glimpse at the future.
Milo is one of several LI musicians who are forming roots into the soil of Nassau and Suffolk. Amid the slew of tribute and cover bands, there are original singer/songwriters steadily growing and starting to bloom.
Here are eight local artists who possess potential to move forward in the music business:
EDWARD "JJ" JONES
GENRE Emotional hip-hop
SOCIALS Instagram: @#edwardjjjones, facebook.com/WHOISJJ
Edward "JJ" Jones is at the center of the hip-hop scene on Long Island connecting with a variety of local artists through his positive outlook.
"The people around me are my inspirations," says Jones, who even has his own clothing line called Stay Vintage. "Most people relate to the emotional aspects of my lyrics. I feel like the older I get the more they connect with my songs."
His latest album, "If It Isn’t Love," shows the rapper growing as an original artist, but his goal for 2022 is to not only to drop another album but hold a concert at Long Island’s most iconic venue.
"I want to somehow perform at Jones Beach," says Jones. "I feel like I have a bigger story that needs to be seen on the bigger stage with a bunch of other local artists who need to be heard."
LAURIE ANNE CREUS
GENRE Indie R&B
SOCIALS facebook.com/lacreusmusic, Instagram and TikTok: @lacreusmusic
Laurie Anne Creus has been writing original music since age 13 but she didn’t publicly release anything until 2020.
"I was terrified for so long to release my own music. I started many projects but ended up putting them on a back burner," says Creus. "COVID lit a fire underneath me. The world was getting so crazy I figured I’d better release my music now. It was a weird blessing because there were no more excuses."
Her singles, "Nothing Lasts Forever (Anicca)" from 2020 and "This Time" from 2021 have set her on a new path of self discovery.
"With each song that comes out it’s me betting on myself and proving that what I have to say matters," says Creus. "Growing up I didn’t see a lot of Filipino-American artists out there. But I realized if no one was going to be an example for me I have to do it myself."
SOCIALS Instagram: @chrismiloofficial, facebook.com/chris.milo.754, TikTok: @chrismiloofficial, Twitter: @ChrisMiloMusic
Chris Milo is a blend of new and old. Vocally he’s inspired by classic artists like Otis Redding and Nina Simone while musically he draws from modern hit makers such as Ed Sheehan and Charlie Puth.
During the pandemic lockdown, Milo began writing original music and he released two singles, "Memories" and "Poisoned Love," both which made it on New Music Weekly’s AC chart. He even recorded a Spanish version of "Poisoned Love" called "Amor Venenoso."
"Being bilingual has opened up a door to a whole new genre of music for me," says Milo. "It gives it more dimension."
His solo gigs range from places like the Inn and Anchor Tavern in Long Beach to wineries on the East End.
"At first it was a little nerve wracking but as I did more shows I got comfortable," says Milo. "When I use my loop pedal, I’m able to make my sound bigger. It’s like being a band without having a band."
GENRE Americana roots rock
SOCIALS facebook.com/ninaetcetera, Twitter and Instagram: @NinaEtcetera
For Nina Romano, her own songwriting process began by digging into the past. Her band Nina Et cetera was born from the inspirational seeds of Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Jimmie Rogers and John Coltrane.
"You start by learning how to copy others then you can approach doing something of your own," says Romano. "Older music creates new music. Classic forms just keep getting reinvented."
The band’s 2020 album, "Triptych" is a culmination of a decade of work with her bandmate and original guitar instructor Tom Smith.
"Songs act like different backdrops to your life. Different music suits different moods to your day depending on what you are going through in your life," says Romano. "Hopefully people enjoy it so they can come back and listen again. That’s what you hope for."
GENRE Hard rock
SOCIALS facebook.com/amhband, Twitter: @AMHband, Instagram and TikTok: @amhband
After making it to the Top 16 on "American Idol" during season 14 in 2015, Ezegelian was encouraged to move forward with his vocal career.
"When I was eliminated, judge Harry Connick Jr. gave me a big hug and said, ‘You have to continue performing. You can’t turn back!’ " says Ezegelian, who was originally working as a toy designer for Fisher Price. "I realized this is where I want to be - performing on stage and making people smile."
In 2019, Ezegelian joined forces with Long Island band, the Metal Hawks. Together they became Adam & the Metal Hawks and the band released its debut album, "AMH" in 2020.
"I like to break down that fourth wall and make the audience feel like they are part of the show," says Ezegelian. "At our core we are all about having fun. There’s no social message, it’s more about making you forget the woes of your day."
HOMETOWN Glen Head
GENRE Hip-hop influenced indie pop
SOCIALS Twitter, Instagram and TikTok: @juliawolfnyc
Growing up, Julia Wolf was an extremely shy kid who couldn’t look people in the eye. As an artist, she began writing music while attending North Shore High School in Glen Head.
"My music teacher pushed me to write an original song in order to be in the talent show," says Wolf. "I went home, tried writing and it turned out to be the best thing ever. It was a new way to communicate."
This past October Wolf dropped her debut album, "Girls in Purgatory" featuring hits "Nikes" and "In My Way."
"In the beginning it was very hard to be vulnerable in front of the public. But I’ve grown out of my shell since my younger years," says Wolf. "I want young girls to feel empowered when they listen to my music and think, ‘If she did it, I can do it!’ "
HOMETOWN Dix Hills
GENRE Dance pop
SOCIALS Twitter: @jennarose3xo, Instagram: @jennaroseee, TikTok: @jennarosebaby
At 10, Jenna Rose (Swerdlow, her original last name) became a YouTube sensation when she went viral with her video for "My Jeans," which was partially filmed at the Tanger Outlet in Deer Park.
But after years of working with various producers, Rose decided to take things into her own hands and began writing her own material.
"Before I didn’t have a say in what I was putting out," she says. "I was letting so many people control the songs I was doing and how I would dress or portray myself."
Her current singles "Animal," "Monopoly" and "Dolce & Gabbana" have garnered positive reviews and attention on Spotify.
"It took me a little bit to find my exact style," says Rose. "This is the true me now."
GENRE hip-hop and R&B
SOCIALS Instagram and Twitter: @enjetic2021, facebook.com/EnjeticOfficial. TikTok: @EnjeticMusic2021
Danny Rivera’s performance name is "Enjetic," which blends the two parts of his personality.
"I’m very hyper and energetic on the stage but melodic at the same time," he says. "Enjetic is a combination of the two."
Growing up around rap legends like Keith Murray and Erick Sermon, Rivera has launched his own career. The pandemic has been a fruitful time for Rivera. In 2020, he put out his debut album, "Timeless" followed by two 2021 releases, an EP, "D&A" and on Christmas day he dropped a brand-new record, "Regenerated."
"This album really shows my versatility because I mix hip-hop, reggae and R&B," says Rivera. "This is a very hard industry to get into but I believe if you keep pushing and believing in yourself it will happen for you."