The 5th Annual Guitar Festival by Power Jam Music Alliance Inc. will be held on March 11th. with an afternoon Guitar Workshop and evening Guitar Concert and Art Show.  The headliner for the festival is Cathy Fink & Marcy Marxer.  They’ve earned two GRAMMY® Awards and an additional 11 GRAMMY® nominations. The featured performances are by local guitar artists Longman Joseph Norris, and Dylan Galvin.  The opening acts are Jessica St. Claire, David Flood, Josh Riley and Brandon Aksteter.   This article is about  Josh Riley, a new and upcoming county guitarist who is returning to perform at the guitar fest.. (see for more details).

Josh’s very first performance in front of an audience on guitar, was actually two years ago at the 3rd annual Guitar Fest. Since then, he as has been signed by a record label, and regularly plays in front of crowds that range between 4,000 and 7,000 people!

He started playing guitar in 2014. He got his first guitar for his birthday, and has not slowed down since. He is a born and raised Southern Marylander.  Josh says “While music has been in my blood, it definitely wasn’t in the family’s blood.  No one in my family has any music talent.  I have no idea how I got it. I guess if you work long enough and hard enough at something, you can be as good as you want yourself to be.”

In his short tenure as a guitarist, he has played with many artists.  He is part of a band called Urban Street Level, and they play in front of thousands of people at numerous christian concerts.  He has played with Chuck Hall, who is in the Arizona Blues Hall of Fame and tours Europe and plays blues music during the summers.  He has played with the Los Gringo’s, of Phoenix, AZ off of the Operation Encore album series.  He has played with Daniel Mitchell, who is currently recording his fourth album.  He has played with Kalin Jones on some of his rap music for his first album.  Lastly of note he has played with P-Funk and the All Stars in DC night clubs, and has played with Phillip Parsons and his band and Michael Damron, Billy Yeager, and Teddi Custer.

When Josh was asked what musicians have influenced the music he plays?  His hands down answer is: “B.B. King, the smoothness of his guitar playing, how deep and mellow his tone is, that is what I aspire to be.  I will not stop until I get there either.”  Stevie Ray Vaughn and John Mayer are also huge influences of his.  He grew up on Blues, Classic Country, and Bluegrass.  He definitely considers himself a blues guitarist. Although, he plays just about anything people want to hear, he always finger picks.  He loves finger style blues, such as Keb Mo’. There was a time he played for four hours straight; needless to say, Josh’s fingers hurt the next day.  He said, “I couldn’t even grab the door handle of my car without being in excruciating pain.”

He has been playing guitar for about three years, and in that time has massively extended his collection of guitars.  He found that if you buy a really nice and expensive guitar, it motivates you to learn how to play it more. He will be playing a Washburn Resonator Guitar, and a PRS Single Cut Hollow Body Guitar at the Guitar Festival Concert.

He is signed by a record label based in Gainesville, FL.  They are currently paying for the entire production of his original music.  He will be singing and playing his first single titled “Music Man” at this year’s guitar fest concert.   Music Man is a completely original song, written entirely by Josh. The recorded and produced version of the song will be released this summer on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon Music, iHeart Radio, and radio stations nationwide.  He also plans to hit his favorites out of his set list. He will play an original or two, and play around with some Stevie Ray Vaughn, B.B. King, John Mayer songs, and he will throw some Country and Classic Rock in there too.  To quote Josh, “I plan to cram as much awesome music into my slot as I can!

When Josh was asked what are his future plans for guitar performances he said, “There is nowhere to go for me right now other than UP!” He got an amazing opportunity with the record label that not a lot of people at his age get.  He fully intends to make the most out of it, and make his family and Southern Maryland proud.  He says his goal is to “make people smile when they listen to his music”.