A story in the makingPublished 7:02am Sunday, September 29, 2013
Joshua Whalen is at ease with himself: His music, his acting and even a troubled past he’s just now getting over.
All of it is a creative side of a relative newcomer to the world of music.
“Ever since I was a kid I really wanted to play the violin,” Whalen said, smiling. “But a violin is expensive and my parents didn’t think it would stick.”
But Whalen did stick with it, and he’s turned to music for the passion and storytelling that so drew him to pick up the guitar.
The journey is never easy
Whalen’s journey has been a singular trek of self-teaching and finding smooth ways through the bumps in the road, something he doesn’t shy away from. Admitting he is getting over alcoholism that’s been a part of him since his mid-teens.
“I’ve been drinking since I was 16,” Whalen said. “I had problems in school and problems with jobs, but I’ve always had music.”
A crystallizing moment came as so many of these moments do. A startling incident that leads to a life change.
“It was a night where I was in a black-out drunk and woke up in a hotel, I guess I rented myself,” Whalen remembers. “I thought, ‘What the hell am I doing? This has got to end.’”
And it has, with help of the music he so loves. Throwing himself in head-first, Whalen has expanded from his guitar playing, something he picked up at 16.
Over the next couple years, Whalen delved more into music and at the age of 18 started writing and singing. He got involved in the music and theater departments at Riverland Community College before doing an online stint with Full Sail University, a media school, based out of Florida.
He then returned to Riverland, where he continues to sing and perform today.
“The Riverland theater and music department has been fantastic,” Whalen said. “There are so many opportunities.”
This has all been happening while Whalen has been teaching himself many aspects of music. As he taught himself the guitar he has also augmented his talents with piano and singing lessons, progressing his music on a march to something more broad, even though there is a catch-up aspect to what he does.
As most musicians play from an early age, Whalen understands his late arrival to the game puts his progression behind.
“The most challenging thing is having to play catch-up,” Whalen said. “The extra hours of practice, the extra hours of being corrected. Like everything else you have to dedicate yourself.”
That dedication has taken Whalen from the guitar to the stage. Playing in productions like “Annie Get Your Gun,” “RENT” and the upcoming production of Richard O’Brien’s “The Rocky Horror Show,” where he will play the flamboyant character Dr. Frankenfurter, made famous by Tim Curry.
It’s just another opportunity that allows Whalen to perform.
“I just want to take every chance to perform,” he said.
Whalen has had plenty of chances to perform. Aside from taking gigs in Austin and Rochester, Whalen has plenty of shows in Minneapolis and St. Cloud areas.
“There are so many chances up there,” Whalen said.
Whalen will head out-state mid-November when the he plays the Chill Fest Acoustic Music Showcase, which takes place in storefronts throughout Wicker Park and Bucktown in Chicago.
“Actually I was looking on Craigslist and I stumbled across and ad for Chill Fest,” Whalen said. “I submitted some songs, my website and pictures and I was accepted.
Locally Whalen will perform at 12:15 p.m. on Oct. 22, being billed as Joshua Whalen on Main in the Austin East Campus main entrance atrium.
And Whalen isn’t done. He’s got a personal plan that will hopefully see the release of a 5-song EP titled “Sunflower Eyes,” by Oct. 26, a date with special meaning for Whalen.
“The goal is Oct. 26,” Whalen said. “It marks four months since I’ve been sober. I’ve been productive since day one of being sober, trying to find myself. It’s amazing how much you can get accomplished.”
The singer-songwriter, who takes much of his inspiration from the likes of Dylan and Mumford and Sons, will explore the dual natures of himself and the trials he’s experienced in reaching sobriety.
“It will be a selection of older songs and then showcase some newer ones,” Whalen said. “There will be songs that expose the dark side and a newfound brightness.”
Right where he wants to be
Reflecting on things on a sunny day in front of the bank building on Main Street, it’s clear Whalen is comfortable with where he is in life. Music has taken center stage and he’s rolling.
“I’m right on track, and I’m happy with things,” Whalen said, smiling a bit from the thought. “There’s still a long journey, but I’m truly happy where I’m am and where I’m going.”
Not only is he happy with his station in life, Whalen is happy with what he’s seeing in the community on a performing-arts level. As much as he pushes his own music, Whalen is hoping there will be even more from acts within the community.
“There is so much amazing talent in this town,” Whalen said. “We need to get people out and support the new music. Just get them all together.”
Get to know Joshua Whalen’s music
Joshua will be performing locally next on Oct. 22 when he performs Joshua Whalen on Main in the Riverland Community College east campus main entrance atrium come to Main Street for Concert Classics. Joshua performs at 12:15 p.m. that day.
For booking contact him at JoshuaWhalenMusic@hotmail.com and head on over to Reverbnation.com/JoshuaWhalen.
You can also find him at these places: Facebook: Joshua Whalen – Music, Twitter: @WhalenMusic.