Jim Femino of Royersford said since scoring a multi-week hit song, his name has gotten longer
"When people introduced me it used to be, 'Hey, this is Jim Femino,'" he said. "Now it's, 'This is Jim Femino, he wrote the song 'Just Got Started Lovin' You' for James Otto."
The song climbed the Billboard Country Music Charts and rested at the number-one spot for two weeks in May. It's still in the top 10.
Femino, who's also written songs for country music stars Toby Keith, Craig Morgan and Ronnie Milsap, described "Just Got Started Lovin' You" as the best song of his career. "It's a dream realized," he said. A dream that came after 18 years of trying for number one and driving 14-hour commutes to Nashville.
The Salem, Mass.-born Femino whose first release as a recording artist came his freshman year of high school, ended up in Montgomery County in the mid-1980s, when he was a touring artist in need of a break.
"I had lived in every other place in the country except for Pennsylvania," he said. "What was supposed to be a six-month stay turned into a permanent residency."
Although he settled in Royersford, Femino continues to work in Los Angeles, New York City and mostly Nashville, "the music centers."
"The music industry's pretty crazy," he said. "It's pretty much 24/7. You can really get caught up in it if you're not careful."
Sitting in the "middle of nowhere in Tennessee on the porch of a log cabin, smoking a cigar," he said, "So I like keeping home in Royersford so I can get the heck out of here and go home and be normal."
Because at home, he's "just Pop Pop" to his grandkids. "And that's fine with me," Femino said.
Then he returns to work, and he's a music industry executive. "I love keeping these two completely different worlds separate."
Femino has spent a lifetime in the music industry, touring the United States and abroad for years as a bandleader and a soloist, playing with "everybody and his brother," including ZZ Top, Stephen Stills, Gregg Allman and Carole King.
In the early '90s he was playing a lot of colleges when he realized he wouldn't be young forever. "College students didn't want to listen to this dude closing in on 40," he joked. "I didn't wanna be one of those yahoos who just keeps playing 'til he drops dead on stage."
So he took up songwriting. In 1992 he opened an office on Music Row in Nashville as a music publisher and record producer.
"Watching the world around (him)" is what brings Femino inspiration for songs, he said. "A lot of times stuff will just kinda pop into my head," as was the case with "Just Got Started Lovin' You."
Femino, who often co-writes with artists and other songwriters, said he wrote this hit single along with Otto and songwriter D. Vincent Williams in a couple hours during an unscheduled writing session.
"It's one of those things you keep aiming for, 'I'm gonna get a number one hit someday," Femino said. "Then when you get one, it's like, wow, the whole world all of a sudden pays attention to you. Your routine gets interrupted to say the least."
Femino joked about his "six weeks of fame" that has brought country artists from "out of the woodwork wanting to write with (him).
"I guess they figure I have the key," he said, adding, "The worst part about it is trying to figure out how to do it again." Which is what he's working on now.
A singer/songwriter at heart, Femino said he still plays about seven shows a year. At 7 p.m. July 2 he'll be at the Peanut Gallery Acoustic Cafe in Logan Square Shopping Center, Norristown, for a "Writer's Night in the Round."
Benefiting the Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter of Nashville Songwriters Association International, the event will feature performances by Femino and other area hit songwriters, Craig Bickhardt of King of Prussia, whose songs have been recorded by BB King; Skip Dennenberg of Philadelphia, who has shared the stage with Willie Nelson; and Jim Carolan of Bethlehem, whose songs have been heard in film and television.
According to Femino, who said people often assume artists write their own songs, "in country (music) especially, that's usually not the case." He and
the other pro songwriters, who mentor up and comers in their chapter, will perform their hits for the audience to hear their version of the music they wrote or co-wrote.
Femino's advice to "newbies" is a one-word summary of his lifelong affair with the music industry. "Persistence."
"Songwriting is a very passionate industry," he said. "You write your heart out and you hear thousands of 'no's ... waiting for that one 'yes.'"
Tickets are $7 for the general public. For more information, visit http://www.epansai.com.