Joe Kaplow grew up on a farm in rural New Jersey, playing music, but not really knowing what to do with it. Eventually he went on a nine-month U.S. tour. Santa Cruz was one of the spots on that venture. He liked it so much that he now calls it home.
In describing this long tour, he jokingly refers to it as his “farm-to-table” tour.
“I left the farm, and now I’m playing at your table,” he tells me.
Not only did he immediately like Santa Cruz, but living here had a major impact on his creativity. For starters, it motivated him to get into a studio and record an EP, which happened months after he relocated here. This first self-titled EP, which he recorded in a single day, was released on Sept. 9, 2015.
“I grew up in the middle of nowhere, so there wasn’t an active scene in music. I was essentially a bedroom musician up until then,” Kaplow says. “Things like making records and having websites were foreign to me. When I moved here, I saw this is what people are doing.”
The record showcases his stripped-down singer-songwriter approach to music. After being actively involved in this scene, and continuing to tour, he decided that he really wanted to take his time and make a record he felt really proud of, so he took most of 2017 off from touring and focused on creating this record, Ain’t That Much of a Smoker, which he did in his home, with as much time as he possibly needed.
“It was unbridled creativity,” Kaplow says. “I had all the time to explore any idea or any arrangements, so that lends itself to having a lot more instruments on the record.”
For the most part, Kaplow no longer plays as a solo artist because he used a band to create the music on this record. His current live lineup includes Elliott Kay on guitar, Kai Kopecky on bass, Mikey Whalen on drums, and Rob Armenti on keyboards. The album will get released in November. This coming show at the Crepe Place he will release its first single, “I Said I Was Going and I Went.”
INFO: 9 p.m. Friday, July 13. Crepe Place, 1134 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. $10. 429-6994.