Nick Piunti rediscovers his musical roots
BY MELANIE YOUNG
Grosse Ile resident Nick Piunti, a songwriter and musician for 30 years, works hard to balance his music career and his work at his family’s decades-old business in Trenton.
Piunti grew up in Riverview and joined his first band, called Dwarf, when he was just 12 years old. They wrote music and performed at middle school and junior high dances around the area. In 1975, at age 15, he released his first single, and on March 22, 1976, his band was the first band to play at the Trenton Theatre.
Around the time Piunti and his bandmates were ready for college, the band Dwarf had run its course, and the group split to attend college. After college, the band got back together, changed its name to The Take and moved to Los Angeles. It played out there for a couple of years and got some interest from record labels. Unfortunately, according to Piunti, it just wasn’t meant to be.
“We played pop rock music and we were the wrong band for the time. That’s when glam rock came along,” Piunti said.
After 14 years together, the band split up. At age 26, Piunti realized it was time to come home. “The family business was important to me,” he said.
That family business is longtime Trenton Italian restaurant Sibley Gardens. Piunti’s family has owned the establishment since his grandfather Sam Piunti bought it in 1935. It moved to its current location in 1949. His father, Sam Jr., currently owns the business, and at 84 years old, still comes in every morning. After a rough period, the restaurant is now thriving.
“We’ve just had our best three years since 1999-2000,” Piunti said.
Piunti took a break from music to focus on the restaurant and to create a family of his own. He married his wife, Kelli, and had three daughters: Marisa, Megan and Olivia.
At age 40, he got back into music as a hobby. “I make my living at the family business,” he said. “I’m realistic enough to know that in order to do it full time, you have to devote everything to it.”
He and a band called The Respectables made a couple of albums. He then recorded two albums; “13 In My Head” and “Beyond the Static.” His most recent album has earned him critical acclaim.
“Trust your Instincts” was released in September 2016 by Jem Records. It contains 10 songs with a combination of power pop, indie rock and adult alternative tunes. Local songwriter, musician and friend of Piunti, Dave Caruso, had high praise.
“I think it’s Nick’s best album yet,” Caruso said.
The album artwork was designed by Piunti’s daughter Megan.
Others in the music industry took notice of Piunti’s new album, and that led to a new and exciting opportunity. Sirius XM channel 30 “The Loft” began playing a couple of songs from his new album. That led to an invitation to perform a live show. Called “Live in the Studio Loft Session.” Piunti went to Washington, D.C., and recorded a 14 song set in the Sirius studio. The show first aired on Feb. 6 and was replayed a few times.
He credits the core group of people he works with for his recent success. Among the players on his recent album, Piunti lists Donnie Brown, a professional drummer, who, Piunti says, made him “up his game” and is very inspirational; Ryan Allen, guitar player; and Andy Reed, who plays bass and synthesizer.
Nick Piunti said that he was able to produce three albums in four years because his life lends itself to lots of writing inspiration. He said the restaurant is a great place to observe people. He also uses his time as parent for inspiration and has even taken his daughter’s experiences and turned them into song.
“The best songs are the ones that come really quick, lyrically and melodically at the same time,” Piunti said.
Piunti has one local performance coming up. It will be April 15 at PJ’s Lager House at 1254 Michigan Ave. in Detroit. He will play as part of the International Pop Overthrow pop music festival.
For more information about Nick Piunti and his music, you can visit www.nickpiunti.com. You can also get up to date information from his Facebook page. Just search for Nick Piunti.