“You, the guy with the yellow tie, come on up here.” Those words would change the rest of my life, but as an 11 year old attending a church sponsored youth rally in Marion, NC, I didn’t know it then. Actually, I didn’t realize until four years later when I would attend a church in Culpepper, VA and the other teenagers recognized me as the “guy with the yellow tie”. It struck me that, for whatever reason, the act of wearing a yellow tie was a unique and memorable experience that stood out to them.
After that, I used the moniker “Yellow Tie Guy” when I started performing acoustic shows around Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia. In 2011, when I started recording the first YTG record with Mary Celeste, Jason McKinney, and Darren Guzzone, I posed the question: “Well, I’ve been performing as Yellow Tie Guy, so do you want to stick with that or do you want to come up with a new name for the band together?” No one had any objections to Yellow Tie Guy and no better suggestions to offer so the band with the singular name and only mentioning one gender was formed much like “The Lone Rangers” from the movie Airheads.
That record would be called “Joy in the Mourning” like I imagined it would years before we got started, and that record would release via worldwide digital distribution in conjunction with our release show at 98 Rock’s Noise in the Basement in Baltimore, MD, hosted by master hypnotist and disk jockey, Matt Davis. That show also debuted our live drummer, Ralf Madrigal, who had recently moved to the southern Maryland area from Hawaii.
Together, the four of us toured and performed everywhere we could between Virginia and Massachusetts and as far west as Kentucky. We’ve performed at festivals and shows with credits including countless local, regional, and nationally touring artists. We appreciate each of those artists and each experience in a different way, and I’d prefer not to name drop here… Anyway, we would eventually say farewell to Ralf with a final show together once more at 98 Rock’s Noise in the Basement, and with a final show together in my adopted home-town of Waldorf, MD.
I moved to southern Maryland in 1999 with my family from Gautier, MS, and before that we lived in Connecticut where I was born. Eventually, I bought a house in Waldorf, MD with my brother and his girlfriend (now his wife – good job, bro) mostly out of convenience since the three of us were all salespeople for Empire Today. My wife at the time decided to go her own way and it really crushed me, and I had to move out of the house to open my room to a room mate in order to pay the mortgage. I moved back in with my parents to get back on my feet. Later, I met my second wife, with whom I had a daughter, Madison.
Finding out I was going to be a father was the first step to my commitment in a career as a full-time musician. Before she was born, she and I had a hypothetical conversation which basically went something like this: “Honey, you can be anything you want to be when you grow up, but not daddy, because daddy had to get a real job to pay for your ass…” Well, as you can imagine, those thoughts never really sat well with me. So I set out to prove to my daughter that she could grow up to be anything she wanted to be, and I would set the example by achieving my dream of becoming a house-hold name as a songwriter and performing artist.
When my relationship with Madison’s mother and I went south, my daughter and I firmly planted our feet with my parents once more in Owings, MD, and I would once again have to find my footing. This time as a single dad committed to somehow making a living in one of the toughest industries in existence.
Fortunately for me, while all of my personal life turmoil was going on, my dad, Jim Hill, started building guitar amplifiers in a small retail space in Waldorf, but the landlord eventually pushed him out of his space by raising the rent on him til it became unreasonable and unbearable. In an effort to keep my dad around his clientele in Waldorf, I suggested he start building out of the two car garage at my house, which I was mostly using for a recording and jam space.
I took some of my skills in sales and business and applied it to my growing VVT Amplifiers’ reputation online by building them a professional website and managing their social media accounts, which helped me earn a steady paycheck in addition to performing with the band as a solo acoustic artist. I also started managing other bands and coordinating the release of their records on my then very small record label, Alchemical Records, which was originally just a name we used to release the first Yellow Tie Guy record.
Through that experience, I met Steve Syzbowski (writer, guitarist, and vocalist with Annapolis, MD band Robot Jurassic), who took on drumming duties in Ralf’s absence, along with Robot Jurassic bassist, Chubbs, who filled in on recording sessions while Mary was out of town. Both of these guys are great and have saved my behind a number of times as musicians and just being there as friends.
As Steve and Chubbs started focusing more time commitments with Robot Jurassic, I also lost my long time bassist, Mary Celeste, who moved to the great state of California (damn you Caaalliifooornia)! It just so happened that some friends of mine from northern VA, Jamie Rasmussen and Kyle Jackson, lost the vocalist in their band, Crooked Crow, when he moved to Florida (damn you Fllllooorrriida)!
All of these fine people have been featured on the release of our 2016 full-length studio recording, Play On Words: Mary Celeste, Ralf Madrigal, Steve Syzbowski, Chubbs, as well as Brad Mamalis guest starring on trumpet for our song “First Move”. Play On Words features ten tracks, recorded at Belly Acres Studio in Pisgah, MD with engineer Darren Guzzone, and artwork by comic book artist Joan Cooke. The record was made available on Alchemical Records on August 5th, 2016.
Yellow Tie Guy released two singles at the same time on April 15th, 2016. “Anthem” and “First Move”, available online or on CD, and feature artwork from Chestnut Illustrations artist Danielle Kraut Tarka. Music videos will accompany each track. “First Move” was directed by Ronnie Gilmer of Pretty Elektrik Company, and “Anthem” was directed by Taylor Wyscarver of Flixation Media. The studio version of “Anthem” was accompanied by an acoustic version recorded at Harbour Red Studios (Baltimore, MD) with Kenneth Kingsborough, where I take a stab at providing the percussion for the song as well as my first stab recording myself playing violin.
YellowTieGuy is currently simultaneously recording and releasing music from their DMV Music EP Project titled The Inevitable Unexpected. The EP will be released as a series of singles with the full EP being available by the end of 2020. The band welcomes Eric Sanford (formerly of Dreamscapes Project) for drumming and percussion duties, and former Copper Sails keyboardist Kyle Crosby.
The Inevitable Unexpected will feature some special guests such as jazz drummer and Berkley Alumni, Cole Deiner, and nationally touring performer and session drummer Ben Tufts, as well as Richmond recording studio owner (and drummer) Lance Koehler.
The first single from the new EP, “Information,” is available on all major platforms beginning July 30, 2020.