George Collins Band
Twenty years after leaving behind a career as a professional musician, singer-songwriter George Collins returned to the stage for a Fourth of July performance at a buddy’s nightclub. His show that night came as a complete surprise to his wife and his friends. They were used to the buttoned-up partner in a private equity firm dressed in an elegant suit with French cuffs. As he wowed the crowd of hundreds, those close to Collins fell out of their chairs stunned.
“People knew me from my 20-year career in the corporate world, but they didn’t know that playing music was what I used to do,” the Prague-based artist recalls. “When the show was over, I sat there with a tumbler of scotch, reminiscing about the hundreds of gigs I performed many years ago. It was all very emotional for me, and it was the catalyst to where I am today.”
In his first music career, it has been joked that Collins was in the Dave Matthews Band before Dave Matthews. Back then, he played lead guitar in Common Knowledge, a Charlottesville, Virginia-based, Earth, Wind & Fire-esque band featuring DMB founding members, drummer and backing vocalist Carter Beauford, and the late saxophonist LeRoi Moore. Eventually, Collins evolved into a singer-songwriter, and he put himself through graduate school performing three nights a week in local clubs.
Fast forward to 2022, when Collins released his critically-acclaimed debut solo EP, It’s Been a Long Time, which has since earned an international fanbase. Now, Collins is releasing his sophomore EP, Songs for Grown-ups, which bursts with gratitude, critical introspection, and more hooks than a tackle box.
“These songs are written for anyone dealing with the challenges that come with being an adult, like getting older, managing long-term relationships, marriage, and parenting,” says Collins. “I am bringing my life’s experience in a heartfelt way with the hope that I can touch others at similar places in their life journeys.”
Collins’s thought-provoking and boldly vulnerable songcraft has already touched many. His songs brim with literate and insightful narratives informed by his work as a screenwriter and a novelist, empathy, hard-fought wisdom, and smart pop hooks. His songwriting recalls masterful tunesmiths like The Beatles, Sting, Steely Dan, and XTC, among others.
The title track from his previous EP, “It’s Been a Long Time,” was selected as a semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Competition out of more than 15,000 submissions. His Spotify numbers include a total of 155,055 Listeners with a cumulative number of 446,829 Streams in just sixteen months. On YouTube he amassed 635,000 total views across his five lyric videos to date. In addition, Collins performs regularly at Prague’s Hard Rock Café – the largest of its kind in Europe – and he’s a mainstay artist at the leading jazz and blues club, U Maleho Glena, and the well-known club ZanziBar.
Collins was born in Washington D.C., and grew up bouncing back and forth between Bethesda, Maryland and Chatham, New Jersey. At the age of 16, he moved to Tehran, Iran with his family where he witnessed the Iranian Revolution firsthand. Travelling extensively during that period made an indelible impression on him, and Collins would have lifelong wanderlust.
Collins received his first guitar at age four and started writing songs immediately. He pursued both guitar and piano through elementary school, high school, and beyond. In his late 20s, Collins encountered a lot of older musicians unhappy with their lack of success, falling into toxic patterns with alcohol and drugs. He didn’t want that for his life, and he desired an international career, so he pursued other options.
Collins graduated from the University of Virginia B.A. with a double-major in English Literature and Music. Then he earned an M.A. in English Literature, and thereafter a joint degree, a Juris Doctor from the School of Law, and an M.B.A. from the Darden Graduate School of Business. In addition, Collins took classes in French and German and served as Editor-in-Chief of The Virginia Journal of International Law while completing his JD/MBA. Upon completing his JD/MBA, Collins set off for an adventure to Prague for a one-year consulting assignment with a newly established Czech bank. He’s been there ever since 1992, save for two years in London.
In 2012, at the age of 50, Collins had his first child, and he made the fateful decision to bow out of his very lucrative 20-year career as an investment consultant and financial executive to nurture his creative world and be a dedicated full-time parent. He jokes that he now works in the “non-profit” sector as an indie musician, writer, and stay-at-home dad. He and his wife welcomed their second child in 2015, just weeks shy of his fifty-fourth birthday.
Now, the precocious late bloomer steps forward with Songs for Grown-ups, an energetic yet introspective EP with a title that loosely salutes Graham Nash’s 1971 album, Songs For Beginners. The opening track, “I Got What I Got,” exudes a bluesy swagger and was written after a night of boozy revelry with an old pal. The pair reminisced about their "Wild East" days of Prague in the early 1990s and how far they’d come with the wonderful wives they married. As they raised their glasses for yet another toast, one of them said, "It's a good thing we ended up with what we got!" while the other rejoined with "And not what we deserved!" Collins explains: “'I Got What I Got’ is a song of gratitude for returning to life after a long time in the emotionally-barren wilderness, of finding redemption through the love of a perceptive and patient woman.”
The heartland rocker “Where Have I Been All Your Life” is an autobiographical song about Collins’s struggles with balancing the demands of being an indie musician with being present for his family. Here, his opening lines are poetically visceral with powerful scene-setting imagery: Another night of waiting/Waiting for my key in the door/It’s gotta be frustrating/Like so many nights before/An empty glass beside you/When I get home I hang my head/I promised I’d be back in time/To put the kids to bed.
"Stop the Sun" is upbeat yet contemplative rocker that recalls Huey Lewis's work with the Tower of Power horn section. About its composition, Collins says, "As I approached my sixtieth birthday I kept thinking to myself, 'It's taken me this long to start to figure out this game of life – now I need another sixty years to actually live what I have learned. I wish I could make time stand still, so I can do what I came to do and savor every moment that's left to me.'" As with all of Collins's songs, this standout track fuses the personal with the universal, insightful lyrics with instantly hummable melodies.
Collins wrote the chorus of "My Wish for You," a tender track influenced by George Harrison and The Traveling Wilburys, while walking home from the hospital after witnessing the birth of his first daughter. He recalls, “I pulled out my notebook and jotted down the lines – I still have that paper to this day (but then again, I never throw away anything – much to my wife's annoyance!). I was sitting on a stone wall around the corner from the hospital, tears streaming down my face as I scribbled as fast as I could – attracting numerous stares from passers-by, but I didn't care.”
Collins branches out into modern vintage with “Scarred for Life,” an homage to the R&B music he loved as a boy. As Collins explains, “The title 'Scarred for Life' had been kicking around in my head for some time, but the idea was to change the meaning from a disfiguring physical scar to mental wounds based on hard personal experience that can be transformed to enable one to embrace life and live it more fully – that's the sense of being scarred for life. So in spite of the apparently depressing title, it's actually a song about empowerment and becoming stronger through overcoming adversity.”
The EP's closing track, “Saving the Best for Last” was inspired by the rousing and reflective rock of George Harrison, Bruce Springsteen, and Cat Stevens. The song even boasts a 70s-style modulation to emphasize the "surprise" in the lyrics. “'Saving the Best for Last' summarizes many of the themes explored on the EP – the idea of bringing all the lessons we've learned to bear to create a fulfilling and joyful later stage of life – served up with rousing hooks and a killer chorus."
These days Collins is working harder than ever, performing consistently around Prague and readying his third release, which will be a full-length album. Contemplating his life’s journey and where he’s at now, he says: “Sometimes people say to me ‘are you enjoying your retirement hobby?’ I always say, ‘Hobby?, I am working harder than I did as a partner in my investment firm but for no money.’ I work from 7:00 AM to 12:00 AM every day, but I feel this is what I am called to do and it’s an honor and a privilege to finally get to do it.”
"[George's] songwriting hits that sweet spot of passionate pop/rock with a modern vintage feel, recalling masterful musicians like The Beatles, Tom Petty, XTC, Elvis Costello, Dire Straits, Counting Crows and Wilco, among others."
"George is proving that it’s never too late to do what you love."
"(Towards the light) It’s unlike any of his other songs, but it’s the most personal song he’s ever released. It has his signature pop-rock stylings, but has more of a jazz and dream-like quality than his other songs. It’s slower, yet still packs a punch. Lyrically, he sings about time, age, and the changes that come with both."
"George Collins truly understands music and it’s ability to bring people together. He creates songs that stick with you and keeps you coming back for more."
"LYRICALLY SPEAKING, 'IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME' SHOWCASES GEORGE'S POETICISM AND SKILL AS AN AUTHOR AND WRITER."
"In 'It’s Been a Long Time,' George showcases his songwriting with lyrics that spew emotion. It’s about a lost love and missed opportunities. It can be taken literally and metaphorically, the sign of a great songwriter."
"'Easy To Fall' is bound to be a hit, as the music and lyrics work together to create a story of love everlasting."
"It’s Been a Long Time is a stunning showcase of George Collins’ lyricism and musical ear."
Photos by Matej Slavik. These images can be downloaded and used for promotional purposes. Please click on the images to download high resolution images – and please give credit where credit is due.