An injured shoulder derailed country-rocker Joe Stamm from his dream of playing college football. A star quarterback at Metamora High School in the mid 2000's, Stamm signed with Northern Illinois University after initially committing to Illinois State University during the Denver Johnson era.
"The injury actually happened during my senior year of high school. I actually signed my national letter of intent in a sling, so ISU got the better deal out of this," laughed the leader of the Joe Stamm Band.
Multiple surgeries and even a revolutionary procedure couldn't repair Stamm's strong throwing shoulder to perform at a competitive level. He said despite having to retire prematurely from football, NIU honored the scholarship offer. Three years later he transferred to Taylor University, a small evangelical Christian school in Upland, Indiana. (This is the school with the annual "Silent Night" basketball tradition, where students remain silent until Taylor scores its 10th point of the game.) It's also the school where Stamm found music. On a whim.
"In order the graduate from Taylor, I had to take a music course, so I took 'Intro to Guitar' and instantly started writing," said Stamm before chuckling. "Kind of tongue in cheek, I always say I had to figure out a way for people to pay attention to me."
Music fans have been noticing. Though the geographic circle where Stamm regularly performs has been expanding to outside central Illinois, he writes unequivocally on the title track to the EP "Feel Like Me" that his childhood home is where he's staying, and what shapes him:
"I want to breath that autumn air / Comes around this time of year in central Illinois / I'm a Woodford County boy / I'm stuck down in Laredo / Border town shit hole"
"A sense of place, a sense of home has always been very important to me," said Stamm. "I've spent all of my life in the Midwest, and most of my life in central Illinois, with the exception of college and a few years in the suburbs. I guess those fields and fence rows, and those creek bottoms is kind of where I grew up. And that imagery and that nostalgia of that small town I grew up in ... it's such an important sense of place for me, and an important element of my identity."
Doesn't sound like this country-rocker with knack for imagery and an ear for melody is moving to Nashville anytime soon.
"I would just like to avoid that as much as possible," said Stamm. "Because I would lose my sense of place down there. And so much of my writing stems from the imagery I'm used to, that I grew up around, that I continue to surround myself with on a daily basis."
Joe Stamm performs at The 5th Quarter in East Peoria June 21. He and his band also play the Metamora Old Settlers Days June 23. The current tour schedule can be found here.
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