Tag Archive: jtblues

Just Another Sunday…

Sunday’s jam got CRAAZY! I knew it was going to be good when I walked in just in time to see the Steelers roast the Ravens. And there was more heat when John Guyer brought his funky guitar to the stage, along with his harp-blowing-guitar-ripping friend Dave. Trevor twanged out some sweet riffs, and Anthony tore up the eight wires on his Schecter for maybe(?) the last time before he ships back Down Under. Jon and Nate thumbed some serious four-string bottomness while Joel & Josh & Arup kept a steady Mojo working.

But the joint really got to jumping when Natascha & Jackie & Joy & Eric put their voices to the microphones, powered by Cheech taking out his Ravenous frustrations on Stubby’s skins.

Of course, we couldn’t do it without Nolan keeping our glasses filled along with Phil’s tasty concoctions sliding out of the kitchen.  Sure beats sitting on the the couch tube-watching.

Just Another Week in Happy Valley

Rolling along, watching the leaves change, and playing music. Already have one rehearsal and two piano lessons out of the way, now it’s time for gigs.
Happy Valley Sunflowers
Thursday @ The Governors’ Pub in Bellefonte, 6:30-9:00. Stop in after the BHS Homecoming Parade; be sure and wave Hi to Grand Marshall Patti Hilliard, a fellow classmate.
Also Thursday @ The Phyrst w/Maxwell Strait, 10:30-2:00. Laying down the grooves w/Molly Countermine, Ted McCloskey, Rene Witzke, and Jack Wilkinson. Yes, we will rock you.

Friday @ Zeno’s w/The Triple A Blues Band, 7:00-9:00 – Serenading the PSU Homecoming Parade. If I wasn’t playing I’d be marching with fellow alumni in the Penn State Glee Club, along with Bill Besecker.

Saturday, PSU Homecoming – and I don’t have a gig. Really. What the hell am I going to do? Anybody need a piano player this Saturday?

Sunday we’re Jammin’, Jammin’, Jammin’ at the Darkhorse Tavern, 8:30-11:30. Bring your axe, sign in, and play some tunes. we welcome anyone willing to get up on stage. PA and backline (drums, keyboards, guitar and bass amps) all ready to go.

Thanks to WPSU for featuring my essay on “This I Believe”.
Like most people, I get to feeling bad from time to time about one thing or another. Things don’t always go my way, and the march of daily disappointments often leaves me in the dumps.

But what gets me through the blues is music — music simply called “The Blues.” Blues music emanates from the roots of our difficulties. It’s music that has its genesis in the blood and sweat and toil of men and women who worked hard in the dirt and the dust and the mud and the grime of fields and forests long ago; men and women for whom music was one of their few salvations.

Some people still work like that, but many more of us in this day and age do our work sitting on our butts, talking on the phone, staring at a screen, pecking away at a keyboard. Now, I happen to love my work – pecking away at a piano keyboard. It’s not backbreaking hard labor. But I still get the blues, and playing blues music helps me deal with the bad stuff that inevitably happens.

The rhythms and chords and scales of the Blues may seem simple, but to me the sound of the Blues is as complex and contradictory as our lives. Minor melodies of experience play against major chords of desire, over a groove that pushes fast and pulls slow, creating a harmonic richness full of dissonance and resolution. I find great joy and satisfaction in hearing and playing through these moods of the Blues.

The stories this music tells are those of the human experience: our woes and sorrows, our joys and triumphs. When I play the Blues, the music has a way of distilling complicated troubles. It addresses the thing that’s really getting me down and brings it to light, allowing me to sing and dance in its face. When BB King cries “The Thrill is Gone,” Charles Brown warns about “Bad Bad Whiskey,” and Otis Spann proclaims “It Must’ve Been the Devil,” I know I’m not alone. Someone else has suffered just as I have.

The Blues also brings me together with a community that is not distinctly liberal, conservative, religious or secular. Rather, it is all those things. It is universal – everybody gets the Blues. There are Blues lovers and musicians all over the world who support live performers, listen to Blues radio stations, go to Blues festivals, form Blues Societies. They publish magazines, create podcasts, sponsor competitions, and present awards.

They do this because the Blues means something to them and the music speaks to their soul – just like it speaks to mine.

So whenever something gets me down, I get down to the roots of American music and rejoice in the immortal words of Little Milton who sang, “Hey Hey – the Blues is all right, Hey Hey – the Blues is all right.”

So yes – I believe in the Blues.


I play some really cool gigs every week, and hosting the music jam at the Darkhorse Tavern on Sunday nights has become one of the coolest, because of all the great folks who come to play. And also, because a lot of music lovers come out just to see and hear their friends play.

We start each gig playing 2 or 3 tunes as the house band, (keyboards, drums, and bass), then other musicians are called up to join us, or to take over one of our instruments.

Sometimes other pro players come up to play, often its someone’s first time on stage, mostly it’s just folks trying to have some fun playing music onstage in front of a crowd.

We call it a Music Jam because anybody can come up and play what they know, be it jazz, country, pop, rock – whatever they enjoy, whatever they feel comfortable with. But mostly we jam on the Blues because 1) that’s what I like to play, 2) the house band IS a Blues band, and 3) the Blues has a framework that’s generally easy to follow even if you don’t know the song.

John Wise jams at the Darkhorse Tavern, July 28, 2013.
Last Sunday’s Jam had a great turnout as usual, but I’m sorry to say it was the last jam with John Wise, piano player with The Gill Street Band, The Project, and many other great groups. He’s leaving to take a job in upstate NY, and will be sorely missed here, not just because he’s a good piano player, but he could get up and run the Jam himself, giving me a little break. I know he’ll find some good musicians at his new home, so the music won’t stop. And, he’ll be welcome back here in the piano chair anytime.

Arts Festival!


OK, the official name is “Central Pennsylvania festival of the Arts,” but mention “Arts Fest” and everybody around here knows what it is – Four days of crowded streets and sidewalks in downtown State College, and on the Military Grounds in Boalsburg. Thousands of people walking around looking at all the great stuff being vended, eating great food being cooked, chasing/dragging their kids around, getting sunburned, getting rained on…

And listening to great music. It’s a wonderful opportunity to hear many of the local bands somewhere besides the bars and restaurants, and to be pleasantly surprised by out of town acts that come here to showcase their music.

There’s some amazing talent at this year’s Festival. I’d sure like to see the No BS! Brass Band and Archie Blue on Thursday, Zeropoint and MMVR too, but I’ll be doing my regular Thursday performances: 6:30-9:00 at the Governors’ Pub in Bellefonte, then 10:30 at the Phyrst with Maxwell Strait. (Those gigs will be fun, we all tok the 4th off last week).

Friday afternoon, however, I will be performing at Arts Fest: Festival Shell, 1:30-2:30 (the stage on Old Main lawn). The DENICATS will be playing selections from my CDs “Chase Away Your Blues” and “This Way That Way” – Pure Cane Sugar and Zeropoint Horns included! Also a guest appearance by talented vocalist Natascha (of the Spy Boys).

The DENICATS? Yeah, just a bunch of great musicians from Williamsport and Lewisburg (the “Susquehanna Valley”). Bill Stetz on bass, Joel Vincent on drums, and Doug McMinn on clarinet, saxophone, and guitar. We mostly play tunes I’ve written and recorded.

So if you’re up for some original Blues, Swing, and Boogie, well, I’ll see you Friday.

Dueling Pianos!

Dueling Pianos!

It’s finally happening – JT is joining forces with pianoman icon Tommy Wareham for a show that’s only been threatened  – but now we’re crossing the red line.

We’ve both played many events at Brookmere Winery in Belleville PA, and Memorial Day Sunday has always been one of the biggest parties of the year. So this year they decided to have us both.

So come party with us – Sunday May 26, 7:00-10:00 pm at Brookmere Winery. Tickets are $5.00 in advance, or $8.00 at the gate. Wine and food are available for purchase. Bring your own chairs, and bring coolers if you wish. I’ve heard rumors about camping; call and ask Cheryl about that. 717-935-2195Brookmere 5-26-2013

Yay May!

Spring finally got around to pumping daylight into the central Allegheny Mountains, and I’m so glad to be trading in the snowblower for the lawnmower.

May also means some really cool, uh, nice and warm gigs.
Natascha kicks off her Eurpoean Tour with a farewell gig at The Bar in Boalsburg on Friday May 3rd, then JT gets a couple shots at the Grand Piano in the Atherton Hotel Lobby for PSU Graduation on May 4 & 5.
The Denicats, covering JT’s original tunes, shows up at Selinsgrove Commons on Saturday May 11 from 2:00-5:00, and the following Friday finds JT back in Boalsburg at The Bar (yes, playing piano)!
Saturday May 18th JT’s back at Brother’s Pizza of Howard, playing everybody’s favorite sings and sampling Yancy’s mother’s Guatemalan recepies – YUM!
Then the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend will be lots of fun, starting with Blues & Boogie at Webster’s from Noon-2:00, and finishing off with a real treat:
Dueling Pianos between JT & Tommy Wareham at Brookmere Winery! (You don’t want to miss that show).
And all this daylight means Music Festival time, and there are a few that I’ll be playing, both with the Denicats and other bands like Ann Kerstetter. Keep checking the Schedule!
Thanks so much – hope to see you at the next show!

This Way <> That Way

CD Released!

This Way that Way was released in the Fall of 2012 – 12 original tunes, help from 14? different musicians. Blues, Swing, Jazz, Ballad, Gospel, Rock….

And you can download your copy from iTunes or Amazon.

Yes the CD is done!  “This Way That Way” is available on iTunes:

And on Amazon: