Joel was born in Everett, Washington. In his first twelve years, Joel’s family moved from Everett to Spokane, then to California and Oregon. Finally they moved back to Spokane for good. Joel grew up playing the guitar and listening to his mom’s old “Everly Brothers,” “Jerry Lee Lewis,” and “Elvis Presley” records, trying to mimic every word. As far back as Joel can recall, Joel remembers his mom constantly singing and playing the piano; “My mom was either singing or the radio was playing country tunes.” It wasn’t until high school that Joel became a true country music fan. Joel started listening to country bands around “State Line, Idaho,” where a string of honky-tonks booked live country music acts. He memorized all the songs, and he knew his dream was to be in front of an audience.
Education: After graduating from University High School in 1985, Joel went on to study Construction Engineering and Opera at Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Washington.
Chasing a Dream: In 1987, after two years of college, Joel moved to Las Vegas, Nevada where he wrote his first song. He also stepped on stage for the first time at the “Silver Dollar Saloon” with a guitar his grandparents gave him when he was ten years old. Joel ended up performing at a number of rowdy honky-tonks during the day and performed at Hotels and Casinos at night, including the “Union Plaza Hotel and Casino” on the Freemont strip.
After one year of good times and bad, Joel moved back home to finish school and pursue music around the people he trusted and loved. Joel started out in Spokane performing with an Elvis Impersonator as the opening act. He moved on to play with three more bands in the area. They played local clubs and on Lake Coeur d’Alene cruise ships. It was hard to keep a band together, so Joel’s parents loaned him the money to buy music equipment for a one-man show. Joel’s dad helped him book his first show at a small club in Spokane. In the next two years, he expanded his one-man show to include hotels, clubs, parades, wedding receptions, and private parties.
During the 1991 season at Silverwood Theme Park in Athol, Idaho, Joel performed two shows daily, six days a week. Joel used this time at Silverwood to perfect his entertainment skills.
Living his Dreams:
In 1991, Joel graduated from Eastern Washington University with a BS degree in Construction Engineering. Joel also married the love of his life. One month after they where married they loaded up the U-Haul and drove to Nashville, Tennessee.
For almost 9 years, Joel pursued music around the Nashville area. He started out by performing about 100 shows a year at libraries, malls, country clubs, restaurants, and retirement homes. Later on he expanded his shows to include Festivals, State Fairs, and in-school assemblies. The last three years Joel was in Nashville, he performed over 200 shows each year.
All along, as Joel’s music business became more and more successful, he was honing the craft of songwriting and trying to find his way to a record deal. “Nashville is a great opportunity for all singer/songwriters to learn and get better.” Joel wrote and recorded dozens of songs with other writers and musicians. All of these songs were passed around to publishing companies in the Nashville area. Joel said, “The greatest thing about Nashville was the songwriters nights.” “They were night clubs where anybody could step on stage and sing the songs they wrote with an instrument.” “You could find a songwriters night any night of the week.”
During his stay in Nashville, Joel performed with several bands. He sang Rock, Country, Alternative, and Original tunes.
Nashville Highlights: Joel and his family made some life long friends during their stay. “If it wasn’t for our new friends, Nashville would have been pretty lonely,” said Joel. Joel performed on national television with Charlie Daniels. Joel also, was the opening act for several country stars like Daryl Singletary at state fairs in Kentucky. Other highlights include, writing several songs with professional songwriters, performing at the Opryland Hotel, and singing on Waylon Jennings, “Old Dogs” CD. In addition, Alan Jackson’s publishing company picked one of Joel’s songs up. In his last years in Nashville, Joel traveled around Kentucky with professional musicians performing and hosting Showcases for rising stars. Joel said one of the greatest highlights of his stay in Nashville was meeting dozens of his country-singing heroes, like Eddy Raven, Oakridge Boys, Earl Thomas Conley, and Marty Stuart. Another highlight, Joel said, was finding his nitch as a children’s entertainer and motivational speaker. Joel ended up performing in over 700 schools in the south, making a positive difference in thousands of student’s lives. And of course his children that were born in Tennessee, Joel said, were the biggest highlight of all!!!!
Back to the great Northwest: Joel and his wife Laura had two beautiful babies, both born at Hendersonville Hospital in Hendersonville, TN. Josie Ann, born in 1995 and Joshua Charles in 1998. Joel had his hands full performing 220 shows a year while trying to write, practice, showcase and be a dad and husband. Before too long, “a record deal” was taking a back seat to his family. Joel thought it was more important to hang out with his kids and take them fishing all the time, so Joel and Laura moved their family back home to Spokane, WA. “I’m all about being happy,” says Joel. “I feel very fortunate to have done what I’ve done and to be doing what I do.” “Dreams and priorities have a way of changing.” “For me, the change has been a very positive experience.” “It’s great to be back to the beautiful northwest around my family and friends!!!”
Since their move back to Spokane, June of 2000, Joel has performed at Dozens of major events, such as Bloomsday, JR. Bloomsday, and Sports fest. Joel also went on a school tour during the 2000/2001-school season. He performed at 90 schools in the Inland Empire and Tri-cities. Snyder’s Bakery, Excell Foods and Harvest Foods sponsor Joel’s program at the schools called “THE THREE R’s,” which stand for “Respect, Responsibility, and Rock n’Roll.”
New Dreams: Joel is currently writing songs for his children’s CD, which is over half- way done. He is hoping to get into the recording studio soon, as well as record a video. Look for details about Joel’s CD on his web site, joelbrantley.com. Joel is also looking forward to the 2001/2002 school year because he will be going to new schools, performing “The Three R’s” around eastern Washington, north Idaho, and western Montana.
“It’s great to be back in the great Northwest!!” “I didn’t realize how much I missed the mountains and the rivers.” “This is where I want to be.” “Ten years ago I entertained at Silverwood.” “It is truly a great feeling to be able to perform on the same stage again.” “Thank you Silverwood!!” “And thank you to my family, friends, and fans for showing your support and being there every step of the way!