It feels only right that the featured song for the #EmergingProud film be one that was created out of a spiritual emergence process. Here Eddie, a musician from the NYC band ‘Dogz of Zeus’, describes his awakening experience in a nutshell:
“I have been a singer/songwriter my entire life. My mother died when I was six weeks old at the amusement park, Great Adventure, on a roller coaster. Ever since that moment, I have had a connection to the spiritual realm. I evolved through the years through many great teachers. When I was eighteen years old, I was in a bad mental state. A friend introduced me to some writings. I attempted the meditation techniques within the book, and to my surprise, I went through an out of body experience in a very real and literal sense. I flew above my body, looked back down and zoomed through the floor, into an underground tunnel. I was floating down a stream, with roots hanging down into the subterranean cavity. I could hear thousands of voices, in which many started to converge into a single question: “Who is Eddie Shiffler?” At the end of the tunnel was a light. The voices began to unnerve me, so I imposed my will upon the situation and declared, “I AM!” At that moment, I began to lose the ability to continue down the stream, and soon returned to my body, feeling exhausted and electrically twitching. It was the last time I ever questioned the existence of my soul.”
‘The Circle’, with artwork by Eddie’s wife Ivy Chaya, will feature at the end of the film…
Click HERE to book your ticket for the #EmergingProud film premiere!
Local Journeyman of song craft, Eddie Shiffler has 20 plus years of prolific songwriting and a lifetime of travels and adventure. His work usually centers on the eternal struggle of the soul. Shiffler was born in Philadelphia. At six weeks old, his mother tragically died on a roller coaster at Great Adventure. This event would become a recurrent theme in his writing, and the prime reason for his spirituality, which is the main inspiration of his songwriting in both bright and dark moments. “All art is the soul’s expression of love, or lack thereof.” Shiffler explains, “To have a figure in your life, such as your mother be mostly viewed as an abstract spiritual idea, leads one to a more symbolic worldview. I was told tales of her life and love for me, which in a sense, I had to take on faith. This creates a type of inner mythology: a guardian angel on the shoulder and a profound loss in the very Genesis of life. The spectre of death becomes an adversary, and an old friend.”
In 1984, the Shiffler clan moved to Ocean City, NJ. The patriarch of their family, Edward I, began writing the lyrics that would start a ripple in the family pond. His words were turned to song by his two eldest sons, Edward II and Thomas. They practiced nightly in their father’s attic with acoustic guitars and learned to harmonize their voices to the quality of The Everly Brothers and Simon & Garfunkel. They ended up recording a treasure trove of original songs that would inspire three generations of the musical family to create across broad genres from Rock and Folk, to Hip Hop. All this added to the personal mythology of Eddie and his musical tribe. Sharing this music became a quest and an identity.
Shiffler began writing songs and making tapes with his cousins by the age of six. By the time he was a teenager, Eddie and his stepbrother, Steve Cavaretta formed their first real band with longtime friend, Mark Jamieson: The Elements That Matter. The band soon added Andrew Baird and Matt Charles to become the regionally successful Rock Group, Keyser Soze. Officially formed in 1996 as The Fuzz, the group soon gained a reputation for dynamic live shows, with Shiffler as a dramatic, over the top frontman, and Cavaretta as one of the most unique lead guitar players in the area.
In only their second show, Shiffler organized a Muscular Dystrophy Association benefit concert at the OC Music Pier: Edfest! With the help of local groups, Tavern, TKO and Sherlock John, the group raised $1500 for the MDA and earned enough to buy their own PA system. The same groups would help to throw a similar benefit with South Jersey AIDS Alliance. The band went on to record four albums, selling over 3,000 total copies by hand, including cult classics, Rolanda and The Dying Breed (including local hit songs played on WZXL, WJSE and the Cindi Margolis web radio: Legend, Long Ride Home and Exeunt). Keyser Soze went on to perform the most important rock clubs in the United States, including CBGB’s in NYC, The Whiskey A-Go-Go in LA, and The Pontiac Grille in Philadelphia. They performed with world class rock legends, such as The Strokes at Atlantic City’s Duke Mack’s (only a few weeks later the roof literally caved in on the club). The greatest honor of their career was when CBGB’s invited Keyser Soze to one last performance on the final Friday night of the penultimate rock club’s existence, to which they brought a party bus of 50 fans to crash the door.
All the while, Shiffler delved deep into the roots of American music and developed his songwriting diversity. He learned of the great trinity of Blues, Jazz and Folk Music. He became part of an underground arts movement known as The Soilsacks, which included writers Matt Donovan and Pillar Chiggs, as well as anti-philosophers, such as Jim McMullen. They worked together with the Ocean City Fine Arts League and their renowned artist volunteers (Jim Penland, Joe Kardonne, Wanda Kline) to bring more art to the downtown and involve younger artists and musicians in the community. The Soilsacks have gone on to include many honorary members, such as Millville’s late, great poet laureate, Johnny Bongo. Shiffler came to be known by the Soilsacks as the Barefoot Leper.
After traveling the country and busking in New Orleans, Key West, Portland, and everywhere in between, Shiffler returned to his place of birth, Philadelphia. He formed a trio with Cavaretta and powerhouse drummer, Rocco Misco: The Elements only lasted a few shows, which included Philly’s Doc Watson’s, before Keyser Soze reformed to play the notorious private club, The Helhouse. The Helhouse was hosted by Philadelphia’s premiere rock band, Helot’s Rebellion; a band who before disbanding had ruled The Kyhber Pass and the World Cafe, and rocked Doc Watson’s during a police raid, while guests fled to the rooftop. Just like the musicians on the Titanic, the band played on. The rhythm section of the group, Drummer Mike Crean and Bassist Hakeem Lee formed a project with Shiffler and Guyanese Reggae Song Master, Sargie. The group quickly moved to Brooklyn and became known as The Dangerous Ones. All the while, Shiffler continued his folk career, busking in the NYC subways and parks for extra cash. He created numerous solo albums: Elf Storage, Bub, and The Barefoot Leper. This time inspired Shiffler’s writing of the song, Rattling Chains, as he walked 15 miles from Harlem to Bushwick, writing most of the lyrics in his head as he crossed the Williamsburg Bridge from Manhattan into Brooklyn.
After The Dangerous Ones disbanded, Shiffler joined the Hard Rock/Metal musicians of Boot Pie. He reshaped the melody and lyrical content of the group, giving them a more mythical and political theme, steeped in the occult, ancient mysteries and secret societies. The group became known as DogZ of Zeus. They were soon signed to Perimeter Records under producer Jamey Staub (Public Enemy, Taj Mahal, Regina Spektor, Run DMC, KRS1). They were voted Best Metal Band in New York at J&R Music Competition by a panel of judges which included Anthrax Bassist, Frank Bello. The band Rocked every club in NYC and contributed to Hurricane Sandy Relief Concert: Rock 4 Relief at Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Cafe (Organized by Dan Sinclair and Jacquelyn Tocci of Rock Solid Productions). And in one of Shiffler’s final shows with the group, he fronted a group of stellar musicians in an All-Star performance, collaborating with Rex Brown of Pantera, Steve Augeri of Journey, Alex Skolnik of Testament and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and Bobby Rondinelli, session drummer of Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult, Rainbow, and Aerosmith. They have two studio albums featuring Shiffler’s vocals and lyrics, available on CD Baby and iTunes.
Shiffler has led a musically charmed life which included meeting Paul McCartney, Steven Tyler, Roger Daltrey, Billy Joel and Tony Bennett all in one night, while working at Shea Stadium in Queens (place of The Beatles great concert). He hung out with Sonic Youth, Derek Trucks, Dickie Betts, Arlo Guthrie and even shared a few drinks with Lady Gaga at underground dive Welcome To The Johnson’s in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Shiffler has played with hundreds of great acts across the country for countless audiences, sold thousands of albums, even caught the microphone on his birthday at a Soundgarden concert to sing along with the group. He met his lovely wife, fine artist and former Millville Gallery owner, Ivy Chaya Wilson, at a small cafe where he was performing a solo concert. “I was lucky to meet her. I might be sleeping in Central Park right now, instead of raising a beautiful family,” Shiffler declared. The couple have two young boys and a beautiful daughter.
See Ivy’s beautifully inspired artwork here:
A huge thank you to Eddie and Ivy for their generous donation of their music and artwork to support the #EmergingProud cause ❤