Category: Gigs


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 ~~~

Not slowing down for 2017

First of all, thank everyone who supported local musicians in 2016 – I hope 2017 treats you well!

2017 is certainly starting out strong – I’m a busy fella, which is what those of us who work in the “Gig Economy” always strive for. Here’s what my January schedule looks like:

Saturday December 31:

> Natascha & The Spy Boys at First Night State College, 7:30-8:30 at St. Paul’s Methodist Church on College Avenue
> The Gill Street Band at First Night State College, 9:30-10:30 at St. Paul’s Methodist Church on College Avenue
> Maxwell Strait at the Phyrst, 10:00 – 1:30.

Whew – glad 2016 will finally be over. Christy and I both worked hard in 2016, never really taking any time off – but that was the plan. We’re looking forward to some vacation time in 2017.

Sunday & Monday January 1 & 2: No gigs – I’m off!

Tuesday January 3: Benefit for Richard Sleigh at Zeno’s, 5:00-11:00 (He sliced open his left hand with an exacto knife while working on his guitar)
Performances
5:00: Richard (he can still play harp), Jerry Zolten & JK
5:45: Noah Figlin & Ken Baxter w/Molly Counermine & Rene Witzke
6:30: Triple A Blues Band
7:15: Haystack Lightning
8:00: Biscuit Jam
8:45: Miss Melanie and the Valley Rats
9:30: Natascha & The Spy Boys
10:15: Tommy Roberts
11:00 Eric Ian Farmer

Thursday Jan 5: JT Thompson Piano Bar & Open Mic, 7:00-9:00 at Talleyrand Tavern, Bellefonte PA  (Formerly the Governors’ Pub gigs – the restaurant is still there serving great food, but they’ve opened a bar in the former banquet room – the “Talleyrand Tavern”)

Friday January 6: Triple A Blues Band 7:00-9:00 at Zeno’s, State College PA

Saturday January 7: JT Thompson plays Brunch at Gigi’s Southern Table, Noon-3:00 in State College

Tuesday January 10: Maxwell Strait – Groovy Tuesdays at the Phyrst, 10:00-1:30 in State College

Thursday Jan 12: JT Thompson Piano Bar & Open Mic, 7:00-9:00 at Talleyrand Tavern, Bellefonte PA

Friday January 13: Triple A Blues Band 7:00-9:00 at Zeno’s, State College PA

Saturday January 14: The Skoal Brothers (Clapton, Zeppelin, Stones, Tedeschi-Trucks, Pink Floyd, etc) 10:30-1:30 at the All-American Rathskellar in State College

Tuesday January 17: Maxwell Strait – Groovy Tuesdays at the Phyrst, 10:00-1:30 in State College

Wednesday January 18: Natascha & The Spy Boys 7:00-10:00 at the Bullfrog Brewery in Willliamsport PA

Thursday Jan 19: JT Thompson Piano Bar & Open Mic, 7:00-9:00 at Talleyrand Tavern, Bellefonte PA

Friday January 20: Triple A Blues Band 7:00-9:00 at Zeno’s, State College PA

Saturday January 21: Doug McMinn Blues Band 8:00-10:00 at Elk Creek Cafe in Millheim PA

Saturday January 21: The Skoal Brothers, 10:30-1:30 at the All-American Rathskellar in State College

Monday January 23: Birthday Bash at Juniper Village, 2:30-3:30 in State College PA

Tuesday January 24: Maxwell Strait – Groovy Tuesdays at the Phyrst, 10:00-1:30 in State College

Wednesday January 25: Natascha & The Spy Boys 5:00-8:00 at Gigi’s Southern Table in State College PA

Thursday Jan 26: JT Thompson Piano Bar & Open Mic, 7:00-9:00 at Talleyrand Tavern, Bellefonte PA

Friday January 27: Triple A Blues Band, 7:00-9:00 at Zeno’s, State College PA

Saturday January 28: Strawberry Fields 6th Annual Benefit at the State Theatre in State College, 7:00-11:00 pm
Music of the Rolling Stones performed by:
The Screaming Ducks
Ted & The Hi Fi’s
Pure Cane Sugar
The Unbanned
Erin Condo & The Hoofties
The Tommy Roberts
Rick Hirsch 4
Eric Ian Farmer
Grain
The Skoal Brothers
Miss Melanie & The Valley Rats

Saturday January 28: The Skoal Brothers, 10:30-1:30 at the All-American Rathskellar in State College

Tuesday January 31: Maxwell Strait – Groovy Tuesdays at the Phyrst, 10:00-1:30 in State College

Secret Singer’s Sauce

So now that the cold and flu season is upon us, I thought I’d share my secret singer’s sauce, developed over years of having to perform to the highest standards even while sick. I have researched remedies by rock singers, opera singers, holistic practitioners, consulted with doctors and friends who also perform.

Here’s what I have discovered: Get as much rest as you can, drink plenty of water, warm up your voice slowly throughout the day, and use some combination of echinacea, zinc, steam inhalation, Dayquil, St. John’s Wort, green tea with whiskey, amoxocillin, yoga, bromelain enzyme, licorice drops, Albuterol, zinc, vitamin C, Flonase, Throat Coat tea, naproxin, Claritin, black coffee with whiskey, silver hydrolsol, a clove of garlic, apple cider vinegar, Afrin, organic cayenne, ginger tea, TheraFlu, honey & lemon with whiskey, slippery elm drops, Mucinex, papaya enzyme, followed by straight whiskey.

And if none of this seems to work (as is often the case), then proceed directly to tequila – because tequila works every time!

 

Cold Medicines 12-18-2016 02

Bar Tour of Gigs

Well, I’m halfway through my State College Bar Tour of Gigs Week. It started Thursday with the Gill Street Band at Tussey Wingfest. (I know it’s not really a State College bar, but it is one of the summer’s iconic shows). Friday I did double duty – at Zeno’s Pub with The Triple A Blues Band followed by sitting in at The Phyrst with Ted McCloskey and the Hi-Fi’s. Tonight It’s back towards College Avenue with the Skoal Brothers at The Rathskeller, and then I wrap it up on Sunday with Natascha & The Spy Boys at Cafe 210 West.

On Monday I get to rest!

Actually, no I don’t… There are errands to run and bills to pay and grass to mow and, yes – a rehearsal.

Now, I’m not complaining, not at all. This sure beats the days when gigs were few, but there were still errands and bills and dogs and grass to tame. I’m thankful for the opportunity to play with so many different great musicians who offer me work that I love, work that brings joy to so many people. And, I’m thankful for my wife, who understands why I do what I do and encourages me every step of the way.

OK, time to go and play some music!

Pianos I Play: LePapillion at Toftrees

Howard C171 Grand Piano

Howard C171 Grand Piano

I play a number of regular shows each week where I bring my own keyboard, usually a Yamaha, Korg, and/or a Casio.

But there are places I perform that have their own pianos. Toftrees Resort in State College PA has a banquet/restaurant space called “LePapillion” that has a nice C171 Howard Grand piano (made by Baldwin).  I play this piano maybe several times a year when I’m contracted for special occasions, usually by the resort. It’s well-tuned, plays evenly and dynamically, and sounds good in the room.

LePapillion Piano 01

My performance is never the focus of the event, but I play for the mood of the room.  Usually that means music for people eating a buffet holiday dinner.  That calls for a lot of familiar standards and pop tunes, nothing too rocking, but a tasty mix of sweet and savory.

 

Occasionally, depending on the event, I bring a microphone and small speaker for vocals. Then the music can get a bit salty, since it’s usually a happy hour or reception with wine, beer, and mixed drinks involved.  ”Sing us a song, Piano Man!”

April Showers

For a number of reasons, April seems the most hectic month of the year, and showers are a major contributing factor – showers of paperwork.

Yes, the weather is definitely a culprit – “Hey, it finally feels like Spring!  Wait – what happened to the sun?  Why is it so cold, I’m sick of gray cloudy days…  SNOW!?! You’ve got to be kidding me, I just want to be out in the Sun where it’s warmmmm.”

Yes, I wish it was warm and sunny, but right now I’m dealing with a shower of  TAX paperwork which, along with monthly bills, budgets, webwork, etc., keeps me inside staring at a computer screen. Ugh. The joy of being a full-time self-employed musician means my income tax preparation is complicated and joyless.  There’s income from many different sources to report, 1099-Misc forms to issue to musicians I’ve hired, receipts and credit card statements to mine for deductions.  (Yes, I keep track throughout the year, but there are always some that I miss).  But thankfully there is also TurboTax!  Sure, a professional tax whiz could fill out the forms, but I’d still have to dig up all the information, and that’s what takes all the time.

But there are other paper showers, too: contracts and stage plots.  One of the things musicians really look forward to is performing at summer music festivals, out in the open air with big enthusiastic crowds that don’t normally go out to the nightclubs where we mostly play.  Arrangements to play at these festivals are generally made in January and February, but the paperwork is due in April.  This season’s paperwork includes 2 PSU Alumni functions, 2 Summers’ Best Music Fest appearances, 2 Arts Fest appearances, a couple Musicians Performance Trust Fund programs, and several weddings.

All these dismal showers shall soon pass, however, and there will be plenty of time to enjoy the lovely flowers.  I’ll see you out in the garden!

 

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.