On Stage Spotlight: John Kim Faye is a true Renaissance man

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

John Kim Faye

John Kim Faye is a modern-day Renaissance Man.

He is a singer. He is a guitarist. He is the founder of a band. He is a drummer. He is a songwriter. He is a producer. He is a front man for a rock band.  He is a mentor. He is one of Delaware’s All-Star musicians. He is a vocal coach. He is the creator and presenter of a podcast.

Now, after more than 30 years of success in the music business, Faye is also an author.

His book is titled “The Yin and Yang of It All: Rock ‘n’ Roll Memories”. The book, which was released on hardback and e-book format on April 4 in stores and online, has a full title of “The Yin and Yang of It All: Rock ‘n’ Roll Memories from the Cusp as Told by a Mixed-Up, Mixed-Race Kid.”

On April 25, Ardmore Music Hall (23 East Lancaster Avenue, Ardmore, www.ardmoremusic.com) will host “The Yin and the Yang of it All: Book Release Celebration — An evening of electric songs and eclectic stories.” The show will be presented by Faye and feature The Caulfields and special guests.

“I started writing the book back in 2017 after about five years ruminating,” said Faye, during a phone interview last week from his home in the Jenkintown area.

“The catalyst was my mom’s passing in 2012.,” said Faye. “At my mother’s funeral, I was reading the little remembrance pamphlet,” said Faye. “It struck me how ‘Reader’s Digest’ it was. My mom was so much more than that. By telling my story, I could tell her story too.”

Her story is a complicated one – a story of an educated widow who had to raise four children as a single mom.

Faye was born in 1966 out of wedlock to a 40-year-old Korean mother and a 62-year-old Irish father. Faye grew up in Delaware, where laws forbidding interracial marriage were not abolished until the year after he was born.

“We had a very small family,” said Faye. “My father died of cancer when I was six. I have three older half-sisters from my mom’s first marriage. I saw one of my grandparents — once. My half-sisters are all a decade plus older than me. I grew up in a household with four Korean women.

“Most of the kids I was growing up with had big families – mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins. This kind of situation wasn’t a possibility for us.

“My family experience was concentrated on my mom. I spent my whole life navigating my experience with her – in a tenuous way.

“She was born in Korea. She came to America to become a doctor – which she was. She was a psychiatrist.”

Faye’s mother spent time working on the staff of the Coatesville VA Medical Center.

“When I would play her a song of mine for my mother, she would ask me, ‘is that great?” said Faye. “Throughout the book, I have chapters of letters written to my mom.”

When Faye was growing up in Newark, Delaware, he had to deal with life as an immigrant – an Irish Korean youngster in a land where prejudice against Asian Americans flourished.

Asian Americans are projected to become the largest minority group in the United States by 2055, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With this rise in population, there is a very real potential for the already increased anti-Asian hate crimes to increase.

“I’m Irish and I’m Korean but not really connected to either,” said Faye. “Korean wasn’t spoken at home and my father died when I was very young. Growing up as mixed race, I was either not seen or I was seen as a target.

“When I’d go outside my house, I’d be the target of a lot of racial slurs. Because I was Asian, the slurs would be about being Chinese or Japanese. Even though I didn’t even identify as being Korean, all this abuse would be directed at me only because of my eyes.”

Faye moved on and found success in a variety of endeavors – the most recent of which is his highly entertaining new book.

“Everything I do starts with a place of ‘doing this for me’,” said Faye,” Generally, when I’m going to do something, I’ll do it. I had something that I needed to get out. An album about this stuff would not be the way. It had to be a book. I had a story and I had to tell it. I wanted to bridge all the musical iteration – to have a book that someone could read and know about me.”

Faye found music back in his younger days.

“I started music — playing drums when I was around 14,” said Faye. “I got into my first band when I was in high school. I went to Tatnall School in Delaware.

“Music never stopped. It’s just a long progression with other people along the way. There was my college band which was The Caulfields.”

Over the past three-and-one-half decades, Faye has released more than 150 original songs in a variety of iterations – solo, duo, and leader of bands including The Caulfields, Beat Clinic, The John Faye Power Trip, IKE,  John & Brittany, and John Faye & Those Meddling Kids..

The Caulfields were an American alternative rock band which recorded two albums for A&M Records in the late 1990s. Their first album was 1995’s “Whirligig.” The album’s initial single was “Devil’s Diary,” which received radio play as well as exposure on MTV.

Two weeks prior to the release of the band’s second album “L” in 1997, A&M Records fired the A&R executive representing the band – and that was the beginning of the end of the band’s major label journey. Six months later The Caulfields disbanded.

Now, at least for one night, The Caulfields are back — as part of Faye’s concert/book release at Ardmore Music Hall.

Faye issued this invitation on his website – Come out and be part of a one-of-a-kind show to celebrate the release of “The Yin and the Yang of it All!” I’ve invited 13 fellow musicians to join me as I tell stories from the book and play songs from the stories. The Caulfields “supa-charged” eight-person line-up (myself, Sam Musumeci, Ritchie Rubini, Brett Talley, Jill Knapp, Matt Casarino, Jim Verdeur, and David Kershner) will be playing Caulfields’ songs, while a killer line-up of Those Meddling Kids (myself, Joey DiTullio, Ron DiSilvestro, Michael O’Brien, and Steven LaFashia) will play the “non-Caulfields” material. Plus, there will be special guest appearances by Sug Daniels and Sam Nobles. Don’t miss out!

“The show will be songs and stories format,” said Faye. “Many of the stories center on specific songs. There will be a lot of musicians on stage. As I read passages, they will be playing along.”

Video link for John Kim Faye – https://youtu.be/qni43YYMEfA.

The show at Ardmore Music Hall on April 25 will start at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $18.

A “VIP Upgrade” is available that includes “Meet & Greet with Pre-show Book Signing;” “Early Access to Merchandise” with 10% discount until 7 p.m.; Book-themed Goodie Bag; and one-hour “Early Entry” at 6 p.m.

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