With the release of Modern Beauty, the music of Jim Thorpe's multitalented singer/songwriter John David Ambrose is in the limelight with seven original blues/rock tracks. Ambrose wrote, sang lead and back-up, played drums and a variety of guitars, as well as mixed all tracks on the album.
What a difference three years has made-for until the age of 16, Ambrose had no connection with music. Growing up with his mom, not having known his dad, Ambrose was a loner, prone to trouble-which caused him to be bounced around through the local private, public, and alternative schools.
"I'd been sent away to a juvenile correction facility and I'd gotten myself on the straight and narrow, realizing that I should take more responsibility for my life," Ambrose said of his entering Jim Thorpe High School. "I made a new set of friends. "They were more accepting."
Invited to a party, Ambrose heard an instrumental version of favorite AC/DC tune coming from the basement. He went downstairs and saw a band playing. "They had a microphone set up," he said, "but they didn't have a singer."
They invited him to knock himself out at the mike. "You can really sing," he was told. "You should do this."
"That singing felt like the best thing I could imagine. I don't think there's anything else that touches being able to reach people in such a way."
"I was not popular at school, because I wasn't into following the rules. But these kids saw me perform, and that made me really cool. That was the beginning. That's when I got the taste for it. Until that moment, I had never seriously thought about music, much less looked at an instrument."
Ambrose became the singer for the band, the Free Vengeance. He liked singing-but he didn't like his singing. "The next step was to perfect my singing," he explained.
Singing became his obsession-to the point he had no time for anything else, even school. "I stayed home every day with a CD player and played my favorite Doors album, and sang the entire album. I knew it word for word."
Ideas and tunes came to him. He needed to bring them to life, so, he started writing songs, which brought him into conflict with his bandmates. They were a cover band and he wanted to do his own songs.
Ambrose bought a guitar, by watching thousands of hours of YouTube videos of Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Hendricks, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and B.B. King, and through trial and error, learned to not only play the instrument, but to mimic the style of the artist.
"I have an innate ability to learn by seeing others," Ambrose explained. "For me, it was imitating at first. Then, after thousands of hours, I discovered how you make it sing, how you make it cry."
He was playing nearly 24/7-falling asleep with the guitar around his neck, and not taking it off for breakfast. His mother finally through up her hands and, as she showed him the door, said, "I don't want to hear this anymore. You are ruining your life. You dropped out of school, and you're not doing anything with your life. You have nothing to show."
Ambrose moved in with a cousin, began learning drums and set a recording studio-teaching himself the intricacies of the Internet music business. He live streams on blogtv.com to promote his music and chat with his fans around the world.
"It's perfect for getting people to really know you because most artists put their songs on ITunes and spam all the social networking sites to get people to listen to the music. They build listeners, but they don't build fans. Whereas the people that I build on this webcam site, they care."
Ambrose is "completely satisfied' with Modern Beauty as far as it goes. But it's not where he wants to be. In his mind, he hears a sound rich with the depth of saxophone, trumpet and a string section-instruments he hopes to learn or integrate into a band.
John David Ambrose's next live performance is with the Pleasant Corners band on Jan. 8, 2011 at the Strange Brew Coffee House in Jim Thorpe.
Modern Beauty is available for listening and download at johndavidambrose.bandcamp.com.