Old Friends Jam Again: Photocomfort & James Paone

While I usually find myself surrounded by incredibly talented colleagues, I wanted to hear more about how Justine of Photocomfort and The Music Hall’s own James Paone, General Manager of Front of House & Rentals, knew each other and what they will bring to the Loft stage on Saturday.

How did you two meet? Have you ever worked together before?
Photocomfort: James and I met in high school—my cousin dated his best friend. This may not be true, but I remember meeting on a trampoline. At night. In a backyard in North Andover. This will be our first show together, unless you count singing Jewel songs around a campfire.

James: That’s how I remember it! I’ve always been a big fan of Justine’s music and jumped at the opportunity to open up for her at The Loft.

Who are some of your musical influences?
Photocomfort: I’m most inspired by my friends, and I refer to their work more than I refer to what’s popular or formative in my past. Sam Moss, Anjimile, and Carroll are big influences on what I’m doing now. Carroll actually co-produced my most recent album, Understudy.

James: My dad raised me on the classics (Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor) as well as a lot of folk revival artists from the 80s like Nanci Griffith and David Wilcox. I often find myself drawn back to folkies like them as they were such a big part of my formative years. Like Justine though, I draw a lot from the musicians and artists on the more local level. Ben Potrykus has always been a huge influence and I’ve been lucky enough to see him perform in living rooms and small Boston clubs for the past decade-plus. There’s this Photocomfort band that I’ve been digging a lot lately, too.

What is your music background/ history?
Photocomfort: I grew up playing piano, and never sang and played a single note at the same time within the earshot of any family until I left home. I don’t think they really believed that I was doing that or able to do that until I went on tour with a band called Magic Man and started to take that work more seriously. Eventually, I left that gig to give my own project, Photocomfort, the TLC it needed, which was a hard but rewarding decision—I couldn’t give my music everything it needed from the road.

James: I started off playing trumpet in school band and found fairly quickly that music wasn’t just an “extracurricular.” I picked up the bass and guitar, learned a couple of chords from my old man and hopefully someday I’ll learn a few more! I studied voice in UMass-Lowell’s wonderful music program for a couple of years and since have played with and then moved on from a band called Animals and Shapes. We had released an album in 2013 and recorded another, but never released it. Another “someday.”

What role does New Hampshire play in your music/ life?
Photocomfort: My parents live here, and now it’s home. I’ve recorded two albums on Lake Winnipesaukee in the dead of winter. I’ve always retreated to New Hampshire to be creative, to cool down, to slow down a little bit. And I bought my prom dress in Portsmouth in 2007!

James: I’ve spent the past 4 years living in Hampstead after defecting from the bay state. The pace better matches my style. As much as I love Massachusetts, I always felt an itch to get out and since settling down up here, my feet are firmly planted. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

What are you most excited about in playing at The Loft?
Photocomfort: I’m excited that my New Hampshire friends and family can finally see a show in their own space. I like that I can meet them halfway, in a beautiful city. It’s not as special when people have to come all the way down to Boston to see my band. And that I can be sleeping in my own bed by the lake the same night doesn’t hurt.

James: Well, people are always saying not to mix business and pleasure, so I’m excited to go against that idiom. Working for The Music Hall has never felt like work. I often feel like the luckiest guy at the lottery winners’ convention and now with this show, I could be the keynote speaker. It really is a special space, and I can’t wait to give the sound and light guys headaches (more than I usually do).


Come to see these two on Saturday in the Loft! More information here.