Johnny Maio
Johnny Maio

Story by Carla Selby

What do you get when you combine a couple of extremely talented, young artists and some of Tampa Bay’s most beautiful scenery?

An award-winning music video with an exceptional catchy beat that is exposing the entire world to the beauty of our city!

Musician Johnny Maio and Videographer Caleb Oosterling, both 22, joined forces and produced an exceptional music video titled “Hometown” which showcases many of the sites and scenes of Tampa, all to an upbeat, infectious original song, written by Maio himself. The collaborative effort recently awarded these two artists the title of “Best Music Video” at the “Intendence Film Festival” in Denver, on June 10, 2018.

Johnny Maio, a multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter, moved to Tampa from Chicago with his musically-inclined family in 1997, when he was only 2 years old. Johnny’s love for music and dance developed early in his life and can be partially attributed to his parents’ support. “I started taking Suzuki piano lessons at age 3. My parents always encouraged me and helped me find the right piano teacher, so I didn’t get bored and learned the styles that inspired me,” said Jonny. At only 6 years old, little Johnny admittedly fell madly in love with the “Riverdance” video and decided to take Irish Dance lessons, which proudly awarded him 5th place on a national Irish dance competition.

Johnny’s passion for the arts continued to grow through the years, and the same musical passion seems to run in the Maio Family. “My dad plays classical flute, bagpipes and Irish tin whistle. My mom was a traveling folksinger when she met my dad on Mackinac Island, Michigan. He was the fifer at the fort, and she was singing in a hotel,” Johnny said. His sisters also share the Maio musical gene; his older sister plays the cello and Johnny’s twin sister plays the harp. “We play Irish music together as a family around St. Patrick’s day,” added Johnny. I will try to stay in touch with Johnny and find out where they’ll be playing next year so I can personally witness the Irish musical magic of the Maio family. I’ll make sure to keep you posted as well!

Johnny Maio, who admires early jazz guys like Fats Waller and James P. Johnson, and other musicians like Vince Guaraldi and Harry Connick Jr. graduated from the USF School of Music in 2017 and has worked as a Busch Gardens musician for the past three years. When asked which instruments he played, Johnny said “I play piano and keyboards, and since working at Busch Gardens I’ve also learned to play and perform on guitar, bass, and drums… and I also get to sing there!” Wow, I don’t think there’s anything this talented musician cannot do!

Caleb Oosterling, a Tampa native, began his award-winning videography career while a student at Wiregrass Ranch High School. He and wife, Gabrielle, proudly own and operate Oosterling Videography, where they also offer professional photography services. “Caleb and I started producing music videos to my original songs last year,” said Johnny, who in the manner of Owl City’s Adam Young, played all the instruments and recorded the Hometown song in his Carrollwood bedroom on his Mac computer.  After a few bedroom recording sessions, Johnny contacted Caleb and decided to hit the road together to capture some of the beauty of our beloved city of Tampa Bay. Next, the Oosterlings worked their production and editing magic in their local home studio.

The resulting music video is reaping widespread praise and attention, most recently in the form of film festival accolades. Less than one month since its release, Hometown has been named “Film of the Month” for May 2018 at New York’s Oasis Short Film Festival and like previously stated, was featured at “Intendence Film Festival” where it won “Best Music Video.”  Hometown has also been accepted by international festivals, so worldwide audiences will see the beautiful lights of Curtis Hixon Park, the Bull Fountain of USF, The Florida Aquarium, the gigantic Bucs flag, the Lightning bolts, the lovely Hillsborough Bay, the Kumba roller coaster at Busch Gardens, and many other unique local treasures.

Maio and Oosterling are happy the video is bringing attention to the Tampa area, as the guys are both proud of their city. “One of the festivals asked us what our budget was for the music video. Their lowest category was $5000.00. All it really cost was a tank of gas and about $35.00 in Chick-Fil-A drive through,” said Maio. Truly a labor love from two very talented young artists, dedicated to their Hometown, Tampa.

Oosterling and Maio are currently working on two new videos. “One’s an original jazz tune called ‘I’ve Been Thinking About You’ where I’ll be playing all the instruments and tap dancing with my friend, Ashlyn Bolton, who runs a tap company called Rhythm and Sole,” said Maio. “The other video is for an Irish original song. I’ll be Irish Dancing in that one,” he added. Oosterling and Maio are already scouting different local spots and coming up with original ideas to showcase our beautiful city again in these two upcoming videos.

Johnny Maio
Johnny Maio

So would Johnny ever move away?

“Tampa has a lot to offer and it’s a great place to grow up. I love this city and can’t imagine ever leaving for a long time,” said Jonny. “However, I am curious about Ireland because of our musical heritage. I believe I’d enjoy spending time there.”

To conclude this uplifting story, I’ll leave you with Johnny’s own words of wisdom to other young aspiring musicians: “It’s ok to be inspired by other people, but be sure to find your own style and be true to your own inspiration. If you try to copy other musicians’ fads and trends you won’t be saying anything new and you won’t be true to your own passions.”

Please make sure to check out the video “Hometown” on youtube whenever you get a chance, subscribe to Johnny’s channel and show some support for our local talent.