New to the Area, Ty Mares Looks to Make a Big Impact

Aug 30, 2017
Ty Mares

When musicians play gigs around Long Beach Island during the summer, they have to get accustomed to keeping rather late hours. But on two occasions, Ty Mares had to grab his guitar just after rolling out of bed as the 21-year-old Barnegat Township musician entertained shoppers at the Surf City farmers market.

“Had to get started around 8 and played until around 10,” he said. “That was something a little different. But I don’t mind because I love performing.”

While people were perusing the Jersey Fresh produce and various craft items, Mares was giving them a little taste of John Mayer, Jason Mraz, Maroon Five, Bill Withers and Jack Johnson, along with a few originals.

Other venues he has played include Mud City Crab House and the Old Causeway Steak and Oyster House in Manahawkin and the Sea Shell, Tuckers and Black Whale Fish House in Beach Haven.

When not performing solo, Mares is the front man for the Running Dog Band, which recently played at the Jersey Shore Blues and Jazz Festival in Red Bank.

“I grew up loving the blues,” he said. “I liked listening to the Kings – BB King, Albert King, Freddie King – and Stevie Ray Vaughan.”

“Rambling” is a common theme in blues songs, and Mares fits that profile.

“I moved around because my father, Steven, is an Army captain,” he said. “I went to four different high schools and graduated from Liberty High School in Colorado Springs. I’m in New Jersey because my father is stationed at Fort Dix.”

Mares said his father is also an accomplished singer, often performing in musical theater productions.

“My mother (Angie) is a trumpet player, so I grew up in a musical family,” he said.

At one time, Mares was thinking of a career in music on the executive side, as he was a contemporary writing and production major at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. But as he entered his fourth semester, he found continuing his studies was not going to be financially feasible.

“So it was time to go back to performing,” said Mares. “Even though education is good, you can learn a lot about the musical profession through your own experiences by playing gigs and building connections.”

He said he had performed in New York City several times, but found that wasn’t for him.

“It seemed that everybody was trying to do what everybody else was doing,” said Mares. “It was very intense, with so many people. I feel a lot more comfortable here, where I get to play gigs in a more casual environment.”

In addition, Mares also offers private lessons in guitar and piano.

“Between performing and teaching, I’m able to make a living in music,” he said.

But down the road, Mares has bigger plans. He said that often his appearances involve playing background music while people are engaged in other activities, such as checking out the produce stands at the farm market, or eating dinner.

“One day, I want people to come and pay their money to see me,” he said. “I want the event to be centered around my music.”

— Eric Englund

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