We Had a Great Time in Memphis!
JT & Andy Tolins made it to the Semi-Final Round of the International Blues Challenge, representing the Blues Society of Central Pennsylvania, after winning their Blues Challenge in September.
And we couldn't have done it without all your help. Our crowdfunding project on Indiegogo.com reached its goal early on, and your generosity at The Blue Front Lounge and Elk Creek Cafe put us over the top!
We hope you enjoyed the record of our trip on our Facebook Page and Twitter.
Thanks so much - hope to see you at the next show!
People keep asking me where I'm playing!
OK, I do a solo show every Thursday at The Governors' Pub in downtown Bellefonte, 6:30-9:00pm. It's just up the street from Talleyrand Park at 211 West High Street. Great food and drinks, relaxed atmosphere, and off-street parking. I sing tunes from my CDs - This Way That Way and Chase Away Your Blues - along with Classic Rock, Popular, Jazz and Blues songs.
Later on Thursday (10:30-2:00) I play at The Phyrst in State College with Maxwell Strait. We feature vocalist Molly Countermine, guitarist Ted McCloskey, and play tunes by the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Bob Dylan - you get the idea. This band rocks, and we have a lot of fun! Yep, we're on Facebook.
Fridays I play with the incomparable Triple A Blues Band, featuring guitarist Andy Tolins. We play Original and Eclectic Blues, and have been holding court at Zeno's since 1994 (7:00-9:00pm). Facebook? Sure!
Sundays from 8:00-11:00 pm I host an Open Jam at the Darkhorse Tavern with Andy Tolins and Stubby from the Triple A Blues Band. PA, keyboards, drums, guitar and bass amps are provided. We play Blues, but you can play any music you like. Also on Facebook: Darkhorse Music Jam
I'm also a Spy Boy, or rather the keyboard player with Natascha & The Spy Boys, a Jazz/Blues/Soul quartet featuring the mysterious chanteuse Natascha. You can find us at The Autoport and a few other places every month, and always on Facebook.
JT & Andy Tolins are headed to Memphis
In September, JT and Andy won a battle of the bands event sponsored by the Blues Society of Central Pennsylvania, which allows us to go to Memphis in February to compete in the 2013 International Blues Challenge.
Yes - we're excited, and will have more info for you soon!
Thank You for Voting for "Sugar Free"
OK, so we didn't win the "Coolest Blues Song" contest spomsored by Big City R & B Magazine, but we did put up a respectable showing - and I do appreciate that. You can still see the link and vote tally here:
And thanks for telling me that you really did like "Sugar Free," and be sure and request it next time you're out.
As Long As We Get There Together...
"This Way That Way" - we finally got it together!
After almost a year of recording, mixing, and producing, my 2nd CD is finished. I have a lot of people to thank, but let me start with my lovely and patient wife Christy. Since I did all the mixing and quite a bit of the recording at "Phydeau's Place" - my home studio - she heard these songs almost as many times as I have, over and over and over and over and over again. And she provided valuble insight and critique the entire way through the process. Thank you, my Sweet and Low Mama!
Marc at Frigo Recording in Boalsburg helped kick off the project by engineering all the ensemble recording at his studio: the original tracks with bass, drums, and piano, the 4-piece horn section, and the vocals with Pure Cane Sugar. All the tracks with Jack Wilkinson, Steve Mitchell, Rene Witzke, Bill Stetz, Pete Jogo, Rick Hirsch, Andy Harbison, Mark Lusk, Matt Donovan, Natalie Berenna, Katy Twoey, and Molly Countermine came out of Marc's basement.
Dave Fields and Ted McCloskey each recorded their guitar tracks in their own respective studios (ain't the internet AWESOME?), while Bill Wilgus and Andy Tolins made the trek to Phydeau's Place and suffered my prodding to get what I wanted to hear.
Doug McMinn came upstream from Williamsport and contributed mightly to the project, and Molly also made the trip to Bellefonte in order to beat her bongos for several tracks.
You'll also hear Natascha chanteusing for a few choruses, and Jerry Walker, who played bass and sang in a band we were in eons ago, added his dulcet tones to the spectacle.
Thank all of you fantastic musicians, who I am proud to call my friends, for helping me go "This Way That Way." We all got here together, and I will be forever thrilled with the work you put in to make this dream come true. ~ JT, July 2012
June Is Bustin' Out
I've been really enjoying the gig at Isabella every Wednesday in Selinsgrove, mostly because I get to play their cool player piano. It's an old upright that has seen better years, but It's still regulated pretty good and is mostly in tune - which is great for Blues and Boogie-Woogie (not so good for the real pretty stuff, but I do the best I can).
Also, that means I don't have to drag my 100-lb Yamaha in and out of there every week and spend 30 minutes setting up - although I do bring a microphone and speaker so I don't have to shout too much when I sing.
JTBlues @ Isabella (Fine Italian Dining), Thursdays 7:00-10:00 pm, no cover
OK, so I won't be representing The Billtown Blues Association in Memphis next January, that honor goes to Sean Farley who did an amazing job at the Billtown Blues Challenge. Good Luck, Sean! You can see him in the Acoustic Tent at the Billtown Blues Festival on June 10.
But I'll be plenty busy! Go lots of gigs coming up in May, including bring the Wednesday Blues back to my favorite little Italian restaurant - Isabella, in Selinsgrove. great food, good conversation, excellent wine, and $5 Martinis!
I didn't think I'd be doing it again, but several inquiring minds started asking me about it last fall - competing to go back to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. After I made it to the finals in 2011, I had that "been there done that" feeling;" not because it wasn't a great experience (it was!), but probably from the exhaustion of the whole exhilarating experience.
Well, that exhaustion has certainly worn off, so this Sunday I'll be taking the stage at the Genetti Hotel in Williamsport to compete with several other hopefuls for a chance to return to Beale Street next year, in January of 2013.
Blues Cruisin' >>>>
Yep, it's that time again! Christy and I will soon be departing the cold gray landscape of Central Pennsylvania for the kuch tropical seas of the Caribbean.
I'm hoping to have "This Way That Way" finished by then, but the finiashing touches are taking way longer than I'd planned - but it will be worth it!
In the meantime, the regular gigs and piano lessons keep happening. Let's go 2012!
"This Way That Way"
OK - THAT's the title of my new album, after one of the songs - yeah, the one about trying things this way, then that way.
I did the original tracking at Frigo Studios in Boalsburg - Marc, a former Nashville pro, has a great space there. I did three sessions covering nine tunes with the smokin' rhythm section from my Thursday night Phyrst band, Maxwell Strait: Jack Wilkinson on drums and Rene Witzke on bass. Pete Jogo from the Triple A Blues Band also played on a track.
A week later, I had my other favorite rhythm section in for five songs: Steve Mitchell on drums and Bill Stetz on bass, both from Lewisburg, PA.
So I had recorded bass, drums, piano, and lead vocal, and it was time to start burning the midnight oil. I had to get the rhythm tracks mixed in time for the icing and the gravy: vocals with Pure Cane Sugar and four horns from the Zeropoint Big Band!
"Where There's Smoke..."
That's the working title of my new album. Christy likes it, so it'll probably stick, I am open to suggestions.
Rather than a completely solo afair like "Chase Away Your Blues," I'm tapping into the State College talent pool and using some really great musicians to help me out - Jack Wilkinson, Rene Witzke, Andy Tolins, Ted McCloskey, Bill Stetz, and Rick Hirsch to name a few.
Yep, it's gonna be fun. We start tracking at Frigo Recording soon, and I'll keep you posted on how it's going.
Ok, it's not quite August, and I do have some cool July events coming up this weekend: Friday at LePapillion for the Chamber of Business and Indusrty in Centre County (prior to my Triple A gig at Zeno's), then Sunday in Bellefonte at Talleyrand Park - Summer Sounds at the Gazebo sponsored by the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association. I've been playing the Talleyrand Park gig since 2008 and it's always a good time.
But there's some good stuff going on in August, too. Natascha will be back and we have our first gig on Friday August 12, at the Blairmont Club in Hollidaysburg. Then Friday August 19th I'll be playing the Blues again in Bellefonte - for the Arts and Crafts Fair; I go on at 3:00 pm. And if you like to enjoy good wine in the shade of tall trees in the mountains, be sure and come up to Seven Mountains Wine Cellars on Saturday, August 27. I'm playing to benefit the Childrens' Miracle Network, but anyone can come and enjoy.
Yes, I'm working on tunes for a new CD; hope to have it out by the end of the summer.
This one won't be entirely solo like "Chase Away Your Blues," however. I intend to recruit a few of my fellow musicians to play and sing on it. No - they don't know who they are - but neither do I just yet. Haven't got quite that far along, but I'll keep you posted.
Started a new regular - every Wednesday - gig in Selinsgrove last night, and it looks like it's gonna be lotsa fun.
Isabella is a classy but casual Italian restaurant located in a former bank building right downtown, with separate seating areas for dinner and the bar.
Domenico (yes, he's really from Italy), knows how to put out great food, and he's going to run a different drink special every Wednesday. Lst night was Martini Night, and I saw quite a few of those being, uh, consumed. I'm certain next week will be just as good. See you there, maybe?
We Be Jammin' >>>
Had a blast playing with Doug McMinn and Bill Stetz on a couple of gigs lately, that also included Steve Mitchell, Sean Farley, Joel Vincent, and the incomparable Ann Kerstetter.
Doug's celebrating his 30 years in the music business by doing a tour of the area, and I'm honored that he asked me to play with him, especially for the Billtown Blues Festival - that's really cool!
We also covered a date at the Elk Creek Cafe that was supposed to be Ann Rabson's show, but she became ill and had to cancel. So her band - The Annimators (Stetz and Mitchell) asked me and Doug and Ann Kerststter to fill in, and the show was great! Tim will certainly have us back there.
It's beginning to look a lot like - SPRINGTIME!
Finally... Green grass, blooming flowers, buzzing bees, sparrows in the birdhouses, skunks in the yard; yep - it's SPRING!
And that means a few extra gigs, too >> Easter Brunches, Mothers' Day Brunchs, Penn State Graduation Brunches, Senior Week (aka Bar Tour Week) gigs...and the beat goes on.
I'm also writing and recording demos for my next album, and writing a couple tunes for other friends of mine - I hope they'll like 'em. I'll post them on FB and you can let me know what you think, too.
OK, the mower's working...
that means it's officialy Spring - I pulled out the lawnmower and cranked it up. Had to replace the starter rope first, however - I think the red squirrel that sotred all his walnuts on top of it may have gnawed through the rope.
But Spring also means that things are starting to shape up for Summer - gigs, I mean, not necessarily my waistline. In June I'll be at the Billtown Blues Festival and Elk Creek Cafe (both with Doug McMinn), and Summer's Best Music Fest. July I'll do a show at the Lemont Village Green and Talleyrand Park (but no word yet about Arts Fest or JazzPA). You'll find me at the Bellefonte Arts & Crafts Fair and Seven Mountains Winery in August, and there will more to come I'm sure.
OK, time to put that mower to work...
Bring the Spring
It's March, we've had enough snow and cold already. OK, yeah, I know we always have some nasty weather in March, and even some in April. But how about a break this year?
At least I'll be back at the Governors' Pub every week, but this time it's on Thursdays. Due to a scheduling conflict, The Biscuit Jam Band couldn't play Tuesdays anymore, and asked if I'd switch. Well, due to my load of piano students, I can't play Tuesdays, so Dave offered Thursdays. No problem! So Thursdays are now a double-gig day > 6:30-9:00 @ The Pub, then I drive up to State College for my 10:30 extravanganza at the Phyrst with Maxwell Strait (always one of my most favorite gigs).
See you around, then ~~~
Home Sweet Home
19 Days of Blues on the road, all the way from Ft. Lauderdale to Antigua to St. John to Atlanta to Clarksdale and Memphis, where I made it to the Finals of the 2011 International Blues Challenge.
Uh, yes - we had a great time...
On The Road Again
It's January, which means we're headed south to the warm sunny Carribbean - sailing our 5th Bluescruise. Yep, we're hooked. And I'm honored to be one of the Crow's Nest Jamarama hosts again - so it's a "working" cruise. But i promise I'll try not to work too hard...
The real work comes the first week in February, however, representing the Billtown Blues Association, in the 27th International Blues Challenge in Memphis. A week of great music and some intense but fun competition. Now matter how that turns out, I'll be seeing and hearing some fine Blues, and hanging out with some great friends we've made along the way.
Here Comes 2011 >>>>>>
Already??? But I haven't finished what I gotta do in 2010 yet!
But it's happening anyways, and for the 4th straight year, Maxwell Strait will be ringing in the New Year at The Phyrst. But, since it's also Friday, Triple A will be warming up Zeno's at their usual time, 7:00 pm. Then Saturday & Sunday, I rest. But Monday, Jan 3, the Blues Boogie goes to Williamsport for another round at the Bullfrog Brewery ~ and the Beat goes on!
Ho Ho Ho!
Ho Ho Ho, break out your boots, and shovel that snow! Well, we haven't had to shovel any yet, just brush it off the car. But the spirit is upon us, as I've already played one Christmas party, with several more to go, including a few Victorian Christmas appearances here in Bellefonte on Saturday, December 11 >> including a performance of "Laughing All The Way" with the Bellefonte Community Band.
And, I've written a Christmas song called "The Season's Reason," which you can listen to here, and even download your own copy from my ReverbNation page on Facebook. And thanks for buying my CDs!
Had a couple great gigs already this month - "The Blues Go Pink" at Cefalo's in Carnegie PA, sponsored by the Blues Society of Western Pennsylvania, and "Fall Into The Blues" at the Genetti Hotel in Williamsport, sponsored by the Billtown Blues Association.
And thanks for buying my CDs!
Halloween & Early November
JT's kicking off Halloween by appearing on the "Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues" Radio Show @ WQSU in Selinsgrove from Noon to 3:00, talking 'bout the Blues and playing cuts from the new CD. Then Monday, November 1, he's making his first appearance at the Bullfrog Brewery, Willamsport's coolest music spot. The iconic Steve Mitchell will be joining him on drums, and the magnificent Bill Stetz will hold down the bass; expect a few other local stars to show up and play, too (I'm talking 'bout you, Ann).
"Chase Away Your Blues" CD Release Party!
Thank you to everyone who came out, partied, and bought a CD! Special thanks to Natascha, Andy Tolins, and Spydah who kept house rocking. If you missed it, you can get "Chase Away Your Blues" and other stuff at www.chaseawayyourblues.com.
CD Release - "Chase Away Your Blues"
Mixing's done, artwork is done, everything's been shipped to the factory, they're beginning to process it. The target release date is Friday, October 22 - we'll party at the Bar in Boalsburg.
Last year, I had a nice busy summer, but things ground almost to a halt once fall kicked in. Not so this year - just look at the schedule. Three regular gigs every week, weekend parties, The Bar, a Friday at the new Kildare's Irish Pub, trips to play with songstress Ann Kerstetter and NYC Blues guitarist Dave Fields. And Natascha's back, so Blau² is partying at Rotelli, The Bar, and your neighbor's house. And, and, and -- I'm finishing up my first CD. Stay tuned....
Music is a moral law;
It gives wings to the mind, a soul to the universe, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, a life to everything.
Plato, 400 B.C