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Just A Blues Piano Player?

Yes, I love the Blues, and I love playing the Blues. Blues piano is my wheelhouse, as they say. But that doesn’t mean I play ONLY the Blues – just come out to most of my shows and you’ll see (and hear) me play plenty of songs that are not Blues, some not even close to the Blues.

On the first Sunday of each month you can hear me and Andy Tolins playing Blues, but you’ll also hear us play Jazz standards such as “Green Dolphin Street” and “Four” by Mile Davis.

Drop in to Doggie’s Pub on home football Saturdays and catch me with the Skoal Brothers rocking out on Ozzy Osborne’s “War Pigs” followed by Pink Floyd’s “Time” and “Have A Cigar.”

I also hold the keyboard spot with Natascha & The Spy Boys, covering Pop/Americana tunes like “Don’t Wait Too Long” by Madeleine Petroux and “Folding Chair” by Regina Spektor.

Don’t be surprised when you finish playing Trivia on Thursday nights at Talleyrand Tavern and I break into some Backstreet Boys, Post Malone, Beatles, or Oasis.

So yes, I play a lot of different songs that are not considered Blues, but you will hear a bit of Blues in all of them, because among my influences are great Blues piano players like Dr. John, David Maxwell, Otis Spann, John Cleary; shall I go on? Several of the groups I perform with are bona fide Blues Bands: The Triple A Blues Band, the Doug McMinn Blues Band, my very own group the Denicats – we all primarily perform the Blues. But we all perform other styles of music, too, and knowing how to play the Blues provides the foundation for those other styles. So when you hear me playing a wedding processional, or cabaret tunes, or easy listening dinner music, know that the Blues is pulsing within all that music.

That’s why I call myself a Blues Piano Player.

August Already >>>

So July was a whirlwind of rehearsals and gigs, mostly due to Arts Fest (officially, The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts) in State College. Over the course of 4 days I played 9 shows with all of my regular bands: The Denicats, Triple A Blues Band, Natascha & The Spy Boys, The Skoal Brothers, plus a duo set with Andy Tolins for good measure.

(to be continued…)

It’s July!

And July means Arts Fest which means a lot of intense fun because I have to practice and rehearse and practice and rehearse for all the shows I’m playing that week – and then I get to play the shows!
You can look at my schedule (right over there >>>) to see when and where I’ll be playing with who.

A Rousing Start to 2019

Typically, January has been one of the slow months of the year for gigs. After all the hustle and excitement of the holiday season, people are exhausted, the weather turns colder, belts get tightened, and tax returns start to get worked on. At least, that’s how I always feel.

But this year, things barely slowed down. Because Christmas and New Year’s Eve fell on Mondays, I didn’t lose any of my regularly scheduled gigs, but did pick up extra holiday shows for those dates. Then Natascha and I answered the call for a last-minute party, I got a little TV time on the piano at WTAJ, played the Blues at Elk Creek Cafe and Bullfrog Brewery, and got Soulful at the State Theatre. Sure, there was a cancelled show because of the snow, but that will be rescheduled.

No matter the weather or the time of year, people will always want and need music, and I will be happy to provide – because I need it, too. So I look forward to seeing you out and about, humming along, singing a song, tapping your feet to whoever’s playing their music for you.

The Last Shows of 2018

and the First Shows of 2019!

I hope you’re having a great holiday season, mine’s been good so far. But in case you need it, I’ll be doing my part to spread a little joy this week. So, whenever you need a break from the in-laws, elves, and reindeer, come find me. I always enjoy making music for the holidays, so it won’t be difficult.

Monday is Christmas Eve, and I’ll start off by playing Christmas songs for residents of Juniper Village in State College, 2:30-3:30. A little later I’ll have the piano set up at Local Whiskey on Beaver Avenue, playing the Christmas Blues from 8:00-10:00. Right after that, it’s downstairs to The Phyrst where I’ll rock it out from 10:30-12:30. Santa usually stops in for a break from his rounds; he’ll be happy to share a Guinness and cookies with you.

After I get done playing with all my new toys on Christmas Day, you’ll find me back at Local Whiskey for another 8-10 show, and right down to the Phyrst again at 10:30. When you add Christmas, music, and the Phyrst all together, well, this will probably be the best Tuesday of the year!

Thursday will feel kind of normal with Tunes & Trivia at Talleyrand Tavern in Bellefonte starting at 7:30, and the same for Friday with The Triple A Blues Band playing 7-9pm at Zeno’s Pub in State College. But Friday follies don’t end there, as I head out to Boalsburg for a 10pm solo show at The Bar.


Saturday it’s a road trip all the way to the Berwick Brewing Company, where I’ll team up with Doug McMinn for some good beer, great pizza, and straight-ahead Blues from 7-10pm.

Sunday I’ll catch up on football for a moment, then Monday brings New Years’ Eve, which I’ll be making the most of by playing 3 different shows. First up is Jazz with Natascha & The Spy Boys at State College Presbyterian Church from 6-7pm, immediately followed by the Funky Soul of Jackie Brown and The Gill Street Band at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 7:30-8:30. Finally, The Denicats swing into in 2019 at Happy Valley Brewing Company, 10pm – 1am.


And after all that? I park myself in front of my computer and install the latest version of TurboTax. Not my favorite game, but I feel compelled to play it every January. Wish me luck ~~~

The Denicats

Throughout the year, JT Thompson stays busy playing piano bars, special events, and with several popular bands. He also gathers denizens of these bands to record his own compositions, then perform them at various venues in the Centre region. Sometimes it’s a trio, sometimes it’s a 13-piece group; in any combination, JT’s music is always captivating.

The core of the Denicats comprises three well-known Susquehanna Valley musicians: multi-instrumentalist Doug McMinn, bassist Bill Stetz, and drummer Joel Vincent. Working with JT, each has their own knack for engaging the audience, all while supporting the song – and each other.

Look for the Denicats to play cuts from the albums “Chase Away Your Blues” and “This Way That Way,” including fan favorites “Sugar Free” and “She’s My Baby.”

Denicats at Arts Fest, 2017
The Denicats at Central PA  Arts Fest 2017,
with guest vocalists Jackie Brown, Natascha Hoffmeyer, and Molly Countermine

Thankful

I am thankful for the life I have, that I get to follow my dream and do what I love.
I am thankful to be married to a woman I love and adore, who gives that love back to me ten-fold.
I am thankful for my parents, who came of age during the turmoil and aftermath of WWII and taught me how to persevere and do the right thing.
I am thankful for all my family and friends who love, support, and encourage me.
I am thankful for all my amazingly talented co-workers who help make my work joyful.
I am thankful for dogs, who have shown me how to love unconditionally.
I am thankful for the many people who have sheltered me, who shared their love with me, who gave and asked nothing in return – I strive every day to be the man you expect me to be.
~ Love and Peace to you all ~

Arts Festival Week!

It’s that time again – Artists of all stripes come to Boalsburg and State College to share their wares. Streets are blocked off and public spaces become exhibit areas as vendors show off their pottery, photos, paintings, statues and all kinds of amazing works.

What makes it exciting for me is that there are so many opportunities to hear music by great local and regional artists (yes – music is ART). That means there are lots of opportunities for me to play music with several of the amazing bands I’m in. This year Natascha and the Spy Boys, Jackie Brown and the Gill Street Band, and The Triple A Blues Band will grace stages throughout both Festivals – People’s Choice on the grounds of the PA Military Museum in Boalsburg, and the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in downtown State College,

I also get to perform with my own band – The Denicats. This year’s show is “Jackie, Molly, and Natascha Sing The Blues.” That’s right, three of the area’s most dynamic and entertaining singers join me on stage to sing the Blues. The ubiquitous Molly Countermine, sultry Natascha of the Spy Boys, and the dynamic Jackie Brown of the Gill Street Band. I can attest to their individual talents because I have to pleasure and honor to play in bands with each of them!

The Denicats are yours truly JT Thompson on keyboards and vocals, Bill Stetz on bass and vocals. Joel Vincent on drums, and Rick Hirsch on saxophone. The women will be singing the Blues with us Thursday afternoon at 3:00pm on the stage on the lawn of Old Main, aka the “Festival Shell.”

You will also enjoy performance bu the other bands I’m with. In addition to our regular 7pm Friday show at Zeno’s, The Triple A Blues Band will perform at the People’s Choice Festival on Saturday morning from 11:30 to 12:30. Later in the evening Natascha & The Spy Boys will be at the Allen Street Stage, 7:30-8:30 pm. Right after that I have to hustle over to Sidney Friedman Park where Jackie Brown and the Gill Street Band kick of the dance party at 10:00 pm. There’s no rest on Sunday though, as the Gill Street Band finishes out the week at People’s Choice from 3:00-4:00.

Even if you can’t get to any of the shows I’m playing, you should catch some of the other great performers at the festivals. I can’t catch them all either, but I hope to see some, including Raven and the Wren, Chris Rattie,Pure Cane Sugar, August Room, Velveeta, Erin Condo’s Love and Lightning, Jim Colbert, Ramalama, Revamped, Ted McCloskey and the HiFi’s, the Zeropoint Big Band, Andy Tolind and Haystack Lightning, and Tyne and the Fastlyne. Maybe I’ll see you there, too.

Out Like a Lamb

The music is always on my mind, running through my head, and when I get the chance I put it in the air. This week I’ll be joining other like-minded musicians and we’ll put in the air here:

Monday Birthday Bash at Juniper Village; As Time Goes By I play Tenderly Over The Rainbow. Elvis pops in for a few tunes, too.

Groovy Tuesday at The Phyrst with Maxwell Strait featuring the dynamic Molly Countermine, Ted Mccloskey, Rene Witzke and Jack Wilkinson, 10:30

Wednesday Winesday at Gigi’s Southern Table with the lovely Natascha and the Spy Boys (incl. fab bassist Robert Gardner), 5:00-8:00pm

Thursday Trivia at Talleyrand Tavern (gameplay begins at 7:30, hosted by yours truly!) followed by Open Mic/Piano Bar at 9:00pm

Forever Friday at Zeno’s Pub, from 7-9 The Triple A Blues Band lays down a multitude of grooves from legendary guitar master Andy Tolins, powered by the smooth and funky Peter Jogo and Stubby Stubbs, with Tom Gallagher blowing icing on the top.

Rocking Saturday! The Skoal Brothers take a road trip to the Hublersburg Inn so Julian, JK, JT, and Stubby can wail through their favorite mix of Zeppelin, Floyd, Clapton, Dead, etc etc etc >>>> 8:00-10:00 pm

Finally, Brunchin’ Sunday at Webster’s Bookstore & Cafe as Thompson & Tolins mix a healthy dollop of Blues & Jazz into your coffee. Noon-2:00

Hope to see y’all out there, and Thank You for supporting live local music!

February Blues

The first month of 2017 is (almost) behind us, and there’s  lots to look forward to in February: snow, rain, sleet, gray skies, icy roads, scraping your windshield, pulling on extra layers of clothing, and >>>

LOTS of GREAT MUSIC!  Here’s where you can find me and my fellow musicians doing our thing:

Every Tuesday:

The Phyrst – 111 E Beaver Ave, State College  814-238-1406  –  Maxwell Strait  10:00pm

Every Thursday:

Talleyrand Tavern  – 211 W High Street, Bellefonte  814-353-1008  –  Piano Bar / Open Mic – starts at 9:00pm (following Trivia)

Every Friday:

Zeno’s Pub –  100 W College Ave State College  814-237-2857 –  The Triple A Blues Band  7:00-9:00pm

Also for February:

2/4/2017 Saturday
Gigi’s Southern Table – W College Ave at Cato Avenue, State College  814-861-3463  – JT Thompson plays New Orleans Piano  for Brunch  Noon-3:00pm

2/5/2017 Sunday
Webster’s Bookstore & Cafe – 133 E Beaver Ave  State College 814-272-1410 –  Thompson -Tolins play for Brunch, Noon-2:00

2/7/2017 Tuesday
Zeno’s Pub –  100 W College Ave State College  814-237-2857 – Natascha & The Spy Boys – 7:00-10:00pm

2/8/2017 Wednesday
Bullfrog Brewery – 229 W Fourth St Williamsport  570-326-4700 – Natascha & The Spy Boys – 7:00-10:00pm

2/11/2017 Saturday
Gigi’s Southern Table – W College Ave at Cato Avenue, State College  814-861-3463  – JT Thompson plays New Orleans Piano  for Brunch  Noon-3:00pm

Elk Creek Cafe – 100 W Main St Millheim 814-349-8850 – The Triple A Blues Band  w/Natascha & The Spy Boys – 8:00-10:30pm

2/14/2017 Tuesday – VALENTINE’S DAY!
Zola Kitchen & Wine Bar – 324 W College Ave State College  814-237-8474 –  Natascha & The Spy Boys – 8:00-10:00pm

2/18/2017 Saturday
Zola Kitchen & Wine Bar – 324 W College Ave State College  814-237-8474 –  Natascha & The Spy Boys – 8:00-10:00pm

2/22/2017 Wednesday
Gigi’s Southern Table – W College Ave at Cato Avenue, State College  814-861-3463  – Natascha & The Spy Boys – 5:00-8:00pm

2/25/2017 Saturday
Gigi’s Southern Table – W College Ave at Cato Avenue, State College  814-861-3463  – JT Thompson plays New Orleans Piano  for Brunch  Noon-3:00pm

2/28/2017 – FAT TUESDAY!
Chumley’s – 108 W College Ave State College  814-238-4446 –  Natascha & The Spy Boys – 7:00-10:00pm

Hope to see you out there ~~~