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From the office to the stage

Local band frontman is a lobbyist by day, rock star by night

Hard Soul is gaining a strong following in the Capital District and beyond.

Hard Soul is gaining a strong following in the Capital District and beyond. Submitted Photo

— By day, John Salka looks like every other legislative assistant at Meyer, Suozzi, English and Klein, a law firm in downtown Albany. Clad in business attire and working in legislative and governmental affairs, Salka is every bit the professional.

But when night falls, he’s more commonly known as “Johnny” and a guitar and microphone replace yellow legal pad and pen. Salka is frontman of the rock band Hard Soul, which recently released their debut EP “Love Eats The Young” and premiered the music video for the first single, “You Broke Him.”

“It’s a cool dichotomy and I think people appreciate that,” said Salka, who is backed by his college roommate Eric Hoehn on drums. “I’ve played in front of legislators and it’s very funny to run into them in a professional setting.”

He said he tries not to bring his nightlife into the office, but sometimes, the office follows him and they become one in the same.

“He’s fortunate that he’s got that huge talent and skills as a musician and he’s able to parlay that into celebrity and make him some money,” said Richard Winsten, Salka’s boss and a familiar face at many of his shows. “I think it’s just fabulous. I’m able to enjoy his music.”

To most people, government lobbyist and rock star don’t fit together. But surprisingly, said Salka, melding music and politics isn’t all that unusual at the state Capitol.

“You’d be surprised at the number of guitar players and singers that are elected officials and like to do it casually for fun,” said Salka.

What sets him apart from the hobbyist musicians, though, is that Hard Soul is something of a job in itself.

Salka is not just another young professional chasing a far out dream that’ll never emerge. He and Hard Soul play gigs around the Capital District and beyond. They already have a record available for purchase and a music video on YouTube racking up views (as of this writing, it had 237 hits). Relentless Aware, a local media firm, handles the band’s publicity. Oh, and he has every intention of someday making it big.

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