2019 is coming to a close. I always spend the last several weeks reflecting on the year. What I accomplished and what my goals are for next year…I try to wrap up projects or set dates for releases to have a somewhat clear map of the beginning of the next year. 2019 was filled with big moments for me. The biggest moment was definitely the ASCAP Foundation Honors. I’ll dive into that in a little bit…
I was 5 or 6 years old when I realized I wanted to be a musician. I begged my parents to allow me to play my older brothers red electric guitar that collected dust in the corner of our living room. I was told I was too young and too small. After months of persistent begging my mom got me guitar lessons. Frank, the music teacher from my elementary school, brought me a tiny guitar that was playable with my tiny hands. Week after week he’d come to give me lessons.
20 years ago I had a vision. I knew that I wanted to be a musician and play guitar. I wasn’t any good at first. I wasn’t good for a long time…but passion for it and support from those close to me kept my dream alive. I continued to play and practice, learning the songs of other artists and soon beginning to pen a few of my own. At age 12, I started playing piano as well.
Every Wednesday, in my teens, my mom would drive me to open mic at the Spoon Cafe to perform the songs I had written. I was met with a lot of support from cafe-goers and the venues staff. I eventually built up a small following at that venue which would allow me to perform at clubs all over Long Island at a young age.
I never expected those Wednesday’s at the open mic to lead me to a Wednesday night at Jazz at Lincoln Center performing just a few feet away from Natalie Merchant and Jason Mraz. But they did. As cliche as it is…dreams do come true. They came true because I worked every single day towards my goals, had a strong support system, and I didn’t give up. The music industry can really throw you for a loop. I’ve felt like I’ve nearly fallen off the roller coaster several times, but I always held on tight and I didn’t lose sight of my dreams. It didn’t matter what industry professional turned me down or let me go…I kept going.
This year I was recognized by the music industry…The “Sunlight of the Spirit” Award is presented to an individual who is exemplary in recovery and in music creativity.
I am so grateful to accept this award from the ASCAP Foundation. Thank you to the ASCAP Foundation for this huge honor. Thank you to my family and friends and the dedicated fans that listen to the music. Thank you to my sober family. I wouldn’t be here without you.
The opiate epidemic has taken so many of our friends this last decade and I cannot accept this award without bringing awareness to the epidemic. Let this award be a symbol that we can be drug and alcohol free musicians and live out our dreams. I’m proud to be a sober songwriter!
Thank you to all my friends and family for the congratulations, y’all make me feel so loved! Thank you to Marvin Guitars for this beautiful guitar to play at this legendary venue! Congrats to all the other honorees!!! Thank you so much ASCAP Foundation! It was a night I’ll never forget!
2019 is coming to a close and I am feeling so grateful for all of the experiences I have had this year. It’s been the greatest year of my life so far for my career. Just to touch the surface of what I personally found exciting… I finished recording a full length record with my band to tape [due out in 2020]. I also wrapped on a feature film where I am a primary character. Some other key moments this year were being featured in the Style section of The New York Times, being in Billboard Pride several times, and being profiled for GRAMMY.org. The Bamboo Plants tour was incredible especially because I got to meet so many of YOU. Connecting with the people who appreciate my music has been a great joy in my life. I’ve been able to travel a lot this year. I’ve been able to carry my message to a lot of young people which has also provided me with a lot of joy, healing, and a great sense of purpose.
I also launched a pop music side project which I collaborated with Nate Evans on. I’m open to more collaborators as well! I would love to grow OTTO FM with my music community. You can hear the first single on Spotify:
I hope to tour and create a heck of a lot more in 2020.
I’m looking at the world with two eyes, wide open… more content coming soon.
This blog has really gifted me a lot in the past couple of years. I’ve spent a lot of time working on it and truly love the work that I get to do here at Rock the Pigeon. Thank you to everyone who has read Rock the Pigeon this year…even just one article. It helps keep us alive. Thank you to all the bands and artists who submitted their work. I was introduced to such great music this year. Below is a playlist of the top 30 songs that I streamed the most this year (pulled from my Spotify recap of 2019). I only discovered these songs because of this blog…THANK YOU FOR THE GOOD MUSIC!!!
Written by Ryan Cassata