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Meet Joe Sparkes of Joe Sax Boston

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joe Sparkes.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I got my start playing classical music on oboe throughout school until just before college when I picked up the saxophone for the first time. Toward the end of my time at UMass Amherst, I was fortunate to play saxophone for three years with some great musicians in a band named Traveling Matt. Then I put down music for more than a decade until early 2017 when I decided I needed to get back to exploring my passion for playing music. That’s when I got the idea to try my hand at busking in Boston. I played outside in several spots before I found my “home” at the TD Garden. For the past year, I’ve been playing just outside the Legends Way entrance to the Garden, before and after most events there. This has led to a number of other public and private playing opportunities: private parties, jazz brunches, weddings and more.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Just like any journey that requires a lot of work, there have been a number of challenges so far. Perhaps the biggest one has been playing in the cold. I really enjoy what I do, to the point where I even play outside the Garden during the winter months. As there is moisture that goes through the horn while playing, keeping ice from forming and causing problems during very cold weather ranges from difficult to impossible!

Another challenge has been working with Event Security and Police to make sure the sound doesn’t create any issues with pedestrian flow in and out of the building when I play outside the TD Garden. But even this has been a largely good experience and I have many people to thank for “training” me on how things need to work for me to continue using that special spot.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Joe Sparkes (Joe Sax Boston) – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Music is feeling, and I try to put emotion into my improvisation, no matter what style of music I’m performing. When I play, I feel almost literally like I am singing melodies through the horn. And so my sound is on the melodic end of the spectrum, as opposed to ripping off 25 notes per second. Occasionally I do rattle off a run like that, but the melodies I play generally have a bit more breathing room to them, where I can shape the notes and put my heart into the sound.

I also enjoy playing a wide variety of music for a wide variety of people. I’ll improvise over funk, rap and rock tunes, play melodic solos over acoustic tunes, and occasionally even play a bit of classical music. That has carried over into my private events as well, where I’ve had some really different gigs. I recently played a dance party in Wellesley and am scheduled to play the ceremony music at a wedding in Newburyport later this summer.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
After a number of people have requested music to purchase, I’ve begun laying out some ideas for a series of CD’s I’d like to record. This is still in the early stages of development, but I’m excited to see where that’s going to go.

I’m also looking to continue booking private events. It’s really exciting to work with individuals and groups, hearing their ideas and helping to bring the right flavor of music to their events.

Studio recording is another area I’d like to explore more. Whether it be studios that need instrumentalists to offer their clients, or artists themselves that would like saxophone music added to their songs, this is something I’ve become more interested in recently.

Finally, I plan to continue busking, although there will be another challenge coming once Phase 1 of the Hub on Causeway project finishes later this year. Pedestrian traffic into the TD Garden will change, and I’ll have to find a new home to play. I’m hoping to be able to work with my friends at the TD Garden to find a new prime location that will allow me to continue playing for so many great fans before and after events there.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Phone: 617-834-1514
  • Email:
  • Instagram: JoeSaxBoston
  • Facebook: JoeSaxBoston
  • Twitter: JoeSaxBoston

Image Credit:
Jeff Hnatio
Rina Sorrenti
Tess Davis Photography
Hannah Flaherty Photography

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