Tag Archive: 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!

 

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

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.

The History of New Orleans Piano in 8 Minutes

This guy! Jon Cleary is the heir apparent to Dr. John, in my opinion, and this video demonstrates why. He effortlessly runs through a litany of piano styles, showing an easy mastery of each. I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen him several times on the Bluescruise, and he is truly amazing. There are so many things in this video that I try to emulate in my playing, but I still have a long way to go. Click and enjoy!

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”.
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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.