Interview/Podcast with Diane DiMemmo

August 30, 2021

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"You used to be the lovely one my son

You to used to have the dreams but now they’re gone

You used to laugh and love but now you’re burned

On heroin

With the vampire’s needle in

You’re gonna be Saturday night sleepin’

With the dealer’s dagger in

You’ll be Saturday night sleepin' "

~Brian Mackey, “Saturday Night Sleeping”

Singer/songwriter Brian Mackey is all heart. His songs are born from a deeply personal space within himself that just needs to make itself heard. Listening to his music (which has flavors of folk, rock, pop, and Americana) makes you feel like you’re spending time with an old friend who’s offering comfort, a positive outlook, or maybe some sage advice.

“I kind of draw from a place inside that needs to come out,” said Mackey. “Something happens when I'm at the piano or the guitar, where it's like ‘emotions-set-to-music' comes out. I can try to explain it in a way where it seems like something else takes over and forces me to let it out in some matter of way.”

However his music may affect the listener, it’s evident that it’s heartfelt, emotional, and passionate. And nowhere is that fact more apparent than with Brian’s two new singles “Saturday Night Sleeping” and “Keep The World Alive.”

Saturday Night Sleeping” is a song that weaves in and out of Brian’s personal life during the painful time when his son battled an addiction to heroin. His son, Brian, ultimately lost that battle on a Saturday night in May 2018 due to a drug overdose.

“Sometimes the most sweetest, kindest, and most giving souls can have no self-esteem,” Brian said of his son. “And when that's the case, they usually gravitate toward things that will give them that feeling of being bigger [having more self-confidence]. I wrote the song, ‘Saturday Night Sleeping’ to kind of talk to him about how I felt, you know? Like I understood all the pain he was going through.”

When I asked Brian what the essential message he wants listeners to take from the song, he said, “Don't be afraid to say the things that you think might hurt their feelings because, you know, in the end, when all the feelings are numbed and somebody just goes away forever, you're left with those what if’s, and maybe I should have said this or took a harder stance.”

"Saturday Night Sleeping” was recorded at Sony Tree Studios in Nashville, and written with his friends, musicians Jeff King (Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn) and Tammy King (Steeldrivers). Brian commented, “'I’m just really awestruck at the skills of the musicians I worked with in Nashville. They’re friends of mine and I'm just really lucky to be in that position, to have people around me that can help with the vision that I had.”

Brian is donating 100% of the proceeds generated from downloads of “Saturday Night Sleeping” between May 20th (National Mental Health Awareness Month) and September 30th (National Recovery Awareness Month) to MusiCares, a U.S. based, independent charity offering preventive, emergency, and recovery programs; a safety net supporting the health and well-being of the music community. 

“I really believe in the cause,” added Brian. “It’ll go towards rehab costs, addiction therapy, addiction recovery and will help people that are really wanting to help themselves. Because there's an underlying opioid crisis that's been running in the background even more so during this pandemic.”



And in response to the pandemic, Brian also recently released a single called “Keep The World Alive” which has garnered national attention with a feature in American Songwriter Magazine and close to three million views on Facebook. The song was recorded remotely (also with friends Jeff and Tammy King) and was written as an anthem for 2020 about how world instantaneously changed in response to COVID-19. He also wrote it as a tribute to his brother who passed away during the pandemic.

“I felt like it [the song] was an honor to him as well,” added Brian.

In addition to these two singles, Brian has spent a significant amount of time recording his next album to be released in early 2022. In 2 months, he will release a single from that album titled “Good Morning Ireland” which describes his personal journey to Glendalough, Ireland in which he lays his son’s ashes to rest. Ireland was always a destination his son wanted to visit.

On September 1st, Brian will release his video for “Saturday Night Sleeping” which he made entirely on his cell phone "I did it entirely on an i-phone in my house. It's low-budget but doesn't really look like it. A while ago, I did a big production music video for my song “Underwater.” We had a crane and the fire department there. But I wasn't really as jazzed about that as I am over something I did on an i-phone!”

Brian will soon embark on another cross-country tour starting in Houston, TX, moving to the mid-west, and then eventually hitting the East Coast. He is adamant that he’ll be playing in New Jersey at some point.

“It's been a while since I've been at the Stone Pony so that would be great. The House of Independents is a great place. And so is The Saint. So there will probably be some shows out there.”

It came through loud and clear during our conversation that Brian (born in Lakewood, NJ) has a special connection to the Jersey Shore and the special quality of music that emanates from here.

He  waxed poetic while talking about it. “There's just that sound, that almost has the salt air in it. You can almost hear the seagulls under it. There's this palpability that smells like boardwalk fries. There's just something about New Jersey. There's the cold lonely nights. There’s seeing your breath in front of the Stone Pony. You know, it’s magic.”

I can’t be entirely sure but it felt like a future song was being written during our interview! If so, I cannot wait to hear it, as well as all of Brian’s new music and videos which are right on the horizon!

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Diane DiMemmo is an avid concert fanatic and former musician who snuck cameras into venues for years before entering the pit as a professional photographer. After her first visit to Asbury Park, she immediately fell in love with its music community and recognized the need for a Jersey Shore publication to highlight the accomplishments of local and national musicians through photos and press. Asbury Park Vibes has been her labor of love ever since, along with her Golden Retriever – Cooper – who you’ll often see walking Diane through the streets of Asbury.

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