Valley musician says keys to success are practice, passion

Middle Road Acoustic with Damian Gessel, Jamie Rodgers and Justin Gaspar

The recipe for success for those who aspire to start their own band boils down to the fundamentals, according to Jamie Rodgers, of Middle Road Acoustic.

“The more you play — the more you practice — the better you get,” he said. “Find the people you have fun around, put the time in, and be sure to enjoy the process.”

Rodgers grew up in a home surrounded by music, playing around with his father’s guitar and slowly building interest in honing his abilities.

“My parents would listen to some of the classics, like REO Speedwagon, and then later in the 80s and 90s, I got into Bon Jovi, Tonic, Pearl Jam, Def Leppard and even some country,” Rodgers said.

In between bands, Rodgers responded to an ad where he met Damian Gessel, and the two worked together in the band Lights over Ashfield, performing throughout the coal region. After that group, the two formed the band Middle Road Acoustic.

“Choosing a band name can really be one of the most difficult parts. We were talking about options, and Damian asked me what road I lived on in Elysburg, and it was Middle Road,” Rodgers said. “It just kind of stuck.”

Looking to add another dimension to their sound, Middle Road Acoustic added Justin Gaspar a year and a half ago, according to Rodgers.

“He is really talented and plays a wide range of instruments, from piano to guitar and even the clarinet,” he said.

The group has played with numerous bands and musicians over the years, including Breaking Benjamin, Bret Michaels and some of the members of the Badlees.

“There is just so much to learn from these artists,” Rodgers said.

The group loves to perform live at various venues, but current circumstances obviously have made that difficult. In the meantime, they have released a compilation of songs on the band’s Facebook page and are releasing a new single, “Daniel is Waiting,” this week on Spotify and other online platforms.

“We love what we do — we don’t do it to make money,” Rodgers said. “We enjoy hanging out together and we love playing, and really that’s what it’s all about.”

Hear more of Rodgers’ interview about Middle Road Acoustic in this week’s Keeping the Beat podcast at

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