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The Week Starts Now

Right, my regular work week of regular gigs starts on Thursdays.

Things kick off at the Governors’ Pub in Bellefonte, where I start playing tunes at 7:00, then switch to asking Pub Trivia questions at 7:30. I still do a little music between rounds, and after the game is over, up until 9:00.

Then I’m off to the Phyrst in State College, and the energy ramps up as Maxwell Strait takes the stage at 10:30 and rocks all the way up until 2:00 AM.  then I head home for some blissful sleeeep.

Fridays are now similar to Thursdays since I started a second gig in September.

First, the Triple A Blues Band, featuring guitar master Andy Tolins and harmonica wizard Richard Sleigh, fires up in Zeno’s at 7:00 and burns until 9:00.

Then it’s right up 5 flights of stairs with my trusty Yamaha piano to the Allen Street Grill where Natascha & The Spy Boys add some sultry swing, jazz, and Blues to the evening. We usually finish up around 1:30.

Saturdays are reserved for one-off gigs. I may play a solo gig, a wedding, at a club with one of the groups I’m in, or even get hired by another band to perform keyboard duties for the night. This Saturday I get to lead my own group, the Denicats, at the Gamble Mill in Bellefonte, 8:00-10:00.  We play mostly songs I’ve written and recorded, and a few more of my favorites. Hope to see you there.

On Sundays, the music usually happens at the Darkhorse Tavern in State College where I host an open mic/jam session. but this Sunday I have something different planned. At Noon I’ll be performing on the Diamond in Boalsburg to help celebrate Boalsburg Heritage Days, the celebration of the village’s birthday.

Then I’m off to Selinsgrove where I team up with the Denicats again to down some ribs and play some Blues at Skeeters BBQ – a great way to finish up the week.

Hope to see you out and about this week; be sure and say “Hi!”

 

Blues, Trivia, and TV

GovPubSignSpotlight on Bellefonte

It’s a special night at the Governors’ Pub in Bellefonte this evening – JT’s playing Blues and hosting Pub Trivia.

OK, that’s normal. But also, Sarah Lagerman from WHVL-TV will be in to film a segment for “The Centre of it All,” their program that covers local events and businesses.

Come early to get a seat and order one of the Guv’nor’s World-Famous Reubens.

Music starts at 7:00, Trivia begins at 7:30, and the beer flows all day long.

 

 

 

Summertime Blues at Elk Creek Cafe

Doubling up this Sunday!

Playing some serious down-home Blues with Rmblin’ Dan Stevens and harmonica maestro Richard Sleigh in Millheim on Sunday afternoon, 5:00-7:00.

And as soon as we get all boogied out there in the valley, I’m cruising on up to State College to host the Darkhorse Music Jam, which I’m sure is gonna be jammed up as the hordes of PSU students have descended upon Happy Valley for Fall Semester. see you out there!
Dan Stevens Elk Creek poster 8-24-2014

Joy and Sorrow… RIP Lotsa Poppa

Last week was an incredible musical journey! Over the course of four days, I played 11 performances with 7 different ensembles. The Central PA Festival of the Arts was blossoming all over State College, and in addition to my regular gigs there were six festival gigs. By the time the Triple A Blues Band finished on Sunday afternoon, I was exhausted but also exhilarated by the experience.
GSB PeoplesChoice 2014 23b


That joy was soon tempered by sorrow, as I found out Monday that Lotsa Poppa, the great Blues singer from Atlanta GA, had passed away early that day.

LotsaPoppa smiling

I played keyboards behind Poppa for the last 6 years I lived in Atlanta, and he was without a doubt the best entertainer I’ve ever worked with. Using his powerful voice, he not only sang his heart out but told many stories as part of his show, a show that contained a lot of language that, well, as he put it:
“I’m a grown man. If I wanna say ‘shit’, I say ‘shit,’ I don’t say ‘doo-doo.’ SHIIIIIT!!”
There were quite a few references to the female form in his show, too.

These stories were all humorous, and despite having heard them hundreds of times, we band members still laughed along with the audience, an audience that he commanded everywhere we played. When Lotsa Poppa was on stage, everybody from the front to the back of the room was paying attention – a feat that few club performers can pull off consistently.


Strokin’ – Live at Blind Willie’s

He had a big voice, a big smile, and a big presence. His moniker “400 Pounds of Soul” was not an exaggeration. As he once told a policeman who pulled him over in his Cadillac for not wearing a seatbelt,
“Wear a seatbelt? Does it look like I’m gonna fall out of the car?”

08-Poppa&31Cord

He was born Julius High Jr. in Atlanta GA in 1935, baptized by Martin Luther King Jr, and sang in the Ebeneezer Baptist Church choir from the time he was 5 until his mid-20s. He began touring as “Little Julius” and recorded several singles in the 1960′s. There are links to them at www.LotsaPoppa.com.
While in Chicago with Sam Cooke and Dinah Washington, he was given the nickname “Lotsa Poppa,” and continued performing until 2004 when ill health landed him in a nursing home.

Lotsa Poppa & The Atlanta Heat Blues Revue at the Atlanta BBQ & Blues Festival

Lotsa Poppa & The Atlanta Heat Blues Revue at the Atlanta BBQ & Blues Festival


The band I was in at the time, the Atlanta Heat Blues Revue, began backing up Poppa in 1995, and continued to do so until his retirement in 2004. My last gig with them was New Years Eve 2001, after which I moved back to Pennsylvania.

In addition to the gigs, performing with Poppa was also a big part of my courtship with Christy, my wife. She loves the Blues, and she loved Poppa and the great times we had playing around Atlanta, notably Darwin’s and TTurning (sic) Point in Marietta, the Peckerhead Brewery in Douglasville, The Newnan Riders Club, the Auburn Avenue Elks Club, and of course, Blind Willie’s. We’ve been to Atlanta several times since moving away, and always stopped to visit Poppa in the nursing home, remembering to bring a few Planter’s Peanut Bars. He would sing a couple songs, and talk about the show posters on his wall.

His 400 pounds melted away over the last decade, but his soul lives on, and he leaves an indelible mark in the memories of the many musicians who played with him over the years, and the audiences who adored him. As he joins the Heavenly Choir, the Angels may welcome him with a bit of trepidation, but they’ll be laughing along with the rest of us soon enough.

We love you, Poppa – sing on >>>> If You Don’t Know Me By Now

Christy, JT, and Lotsa Poppa: New Years' Eve, 1999

Christy, JT, and Lotsa Poppa: New Years’ Eve, 1999

Dance Little Sister Dance

Andy and I recorded this at the Billtown Blues Festival in June, and you can hear us do it again this week at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts in State College.

When and where you might ask? Both Thursday and Friday afternoons 4:30-5:30 in front of the Municipal Building on Allen Street.

And you can also hear it like it I recorded it, with the Zeropoint Horns and Pure Cane Sugar singing: The Denicats play it 1:30 Friday afternoon on the Festival Shell Stage. One more time! Yes, The Gill Street Band will also play it at Peoples’ Choice Festival in Boalsburg on Saturday 6:00-8:00.

So, your little sister can be dancing all week!

Happy Independence Day, USA!

Mixing It Up….

Last weeks gigs certainly ran the variety gamut:

Wednesday’s gig was a Bike Night with the rock/country band AC Express, Thursday I played solo and hosted Trivia Night at the Governors’ Pub, Friday was a long-standing gig with Triple A Blues band, Saturday’s was a trio gig in Sunbury PA with Ann Kerstetter and her guitar player, Sunday was a huge party at Brookmere winery in Belleville Pa with me and Tommy Wareham trading tunes via dueling pianos.

And Monday I helped commemorate the 150th anniversary of Memorial Day at Boalsburg Cemetery by setting up the PA system so our esteemed dignitaries – US Representative Glenn Thompson, State Representative Kerry Benninghoff, and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett – could share in honoring our military dead, and one of our living – Boalsburg’s own Margaret Tennis.

And Tuesday is a day of rest? No – mow the grass, give piano lessons, work on some new posters, write a new blog post, take Ginger to the vet, etc., etc., etc.

Heartbleed – What passwords to change

As far as I can tell, my identity has not been compromised, my credit cards haven’t been maxed out, and my bank account has not been drained. I’m just not that interesting or lucrative a mark for the cyber criminals, at least not yet.

So I haven’t been in panic mode about the latest internet security flaw – Heartbleed – but I have been paying attention. And this IVPN blog post has the most sensible advice I’ve found so far. Check it out and change the passwords that need to be changed.

Heartbleed – What passwords to change | IVPN Blog.

No-Feedback Microphones Coming Soon

Courtesy of Andrea Alu, Researcher and Professor at UT Austin, that squealing and rumbling that emanates from speakers on many a stage may soon be a thing of the past. As with any new technology, the first products will rather expensive, but this design looks like it could scale out petty quickly.

One-Way Sound
(article from Bloomberg Businessweek)

HAVING A GREAT TIME AT SXSW!

What a great town, what a great scene, what great music! Kudos to Music Think Tank

HOW TO GET ALL THE CRED OF PLAYING AT SXSW WITHOUT THE TIME AND EXPENSE