Since 2020 was a year like no other, 2021 cannot help but also be completely unique. Looking back, the first two months of 2020 were probably the busiest January and February I’ve ever had in my career – the usual weekly gigs topped of with a great variety of one-offs at various music venues throughout the region. That all stopped rather abruptly in March.

Now it’s 2021 and I’m sitting through the slowest January and February I’ve had in almost 20 years. Yes, I have had a couple gigs, and more are coming, basically a former week’s worth of shows scattered over the next 6 months. And like many of you, I’ve had to “pivot,” not to a completely different job, but to a different way of doing what I’ve been doing for most of my life. Instead of leaving the house multiple times a week, loading up the van, driving minutes or hours to someplace where I spend and hour setting up, 2-3 hours playing, another hour tearing down, then driving home to plan how to do the same thing the next day.

So my pivot is to embrace Livestreaming. I had livestreamed a few gigs prior to the covid lockdown, but when that happened I realized I had to up my game.

So my stream game has improved over the year as I performed via facebook from my living room, but during that time I have also been working on building a dedicated studio for livestreaming.  A new computer with increased graphics processing will be the technical heart of the undertaking, but I also plan to have room to not only show off a few of my other keyboards, but also be able to have guests to join me. 

I hope you can join me, too. I usually play Sunday afternoons, just check out facebook.com/jtblues to enjoy some piano playing and singing. 

Back to Work (just a little bit)

The last 3 months have been the longest period in many years where I haven’t played any gigs. (Although, like many other musicians, I have been livestreaming on fb).
I wasn’t bored, as I spent a lot of time catching up on long-deferred projects around the house, exploring old trails with a new dog, and had more quality time with Christy. It felt like retirement, except we couldn’t go anywhere or do anything except hang out at home.
But things have loosened up a bit, and this weekend I get to go and perform with 2 different groups, both which include several Denicats – Bill Stetz & Doug McMinn.
Saturday I’ll join Bill and Doug playing a private party as the Doug McMinn Blues Band, then Sunday Doug and I will be Spy Boys performing with Natascha at Shy Bear Brewing in Lewistown.  Social Distancing is still required, and dancing is not allowed.
Doug and Bill keeping their distance…

Music From Home

The clubs are closed, the breweries and restaurants trying to get by on take-out, festivals are cancelling, which leaves musicians with no stages to play on, no crowds to perform in front of,  no easy way to gather with our fellow players and make a few songs together. 

But that hasn’t stopped many of us from putting our music out there for you to listen to and watch as we learn how to Livestream on Facebook from our homes. 

Here’s a song from a recent show:

Live-Streaming Triple A Blues Band

Wow! Had a great time playing with The Triple A Blues Band at The Music Mart Friday night, so good to see all y’all tune in – and thanks for the tips!
(You can see the video here)
As you may have noticed during the shoot, we practiced “Players Pathogen Protection Protocol” – keeping 3′-6′ distance from each other, no physical contact (get away, Mugsy!), instruments and beer cans were wiped down before, during, and after use, vocalists each brought our own microphones, no more than 8 people were in the room at one time, and we all arrived and departed as quickly as possible.
I headed home directly, only stopping for gas (Sam’s $1.97 😮 yes, I used gloves at the pump). Once through the door of the house, I went through the decontamination process – stripped naked, burned my clothes, took a 20-minute isopropyl alcohol shower, and started “Personal Pathogen Protection Protocol” by imbibing measured doses of Tullamore Dew.
No C-19 symptoms so far…
At this point, I don’t know when we’ll get together again as a group. The virus is confirmed to be here in Happy Valley, and reported cases will only increase over the next few weeks. I hope that all those infected recover completely, and the rest of us stay safe. As one of the more susceptible demographics (over 60, asthmatic, blood type A), I, Belle Bleu, and LaKoda will be keeping our distance from y’all for the time being. You may see us out walking the dog, and you will certainly see me live-streaming more music.
So, now that we find ourselves living in interesting times, we can only try and make the best of it. Practice good PPPP, and I’ll see you on the other side of the quarantine 💓

Getting Through It

Welcome to the new normal as we try not to make each other sick. 

I livestreamed on Facebook for St. Patrick’s Day, had a great time and apparently, so did the people who tuned in to watch. Erin Go Bragh! 

Friday March 20th I’m on again, but as a member of the Triple A Blues Band. We’ll be at The Music Mart (closed like most everything else), but owned by our saxophone player, and will stream through the band’s FB page – facebook/The Triple A Blues Band. We plan s to start @ 6pm EST.

If you’re enjoying the music and want to help us get through it, you can send a tip via PayPal.me/JTBlues – thank you and stay safe!


Just A Blues Piano Player?

Yes, I love the Blues, and I love playing the Blues. Blues piano is my wheelhouse, as they say. But that doesn’t mean I play ONLY the Blues – just come out to most of my shows and you’ll see (and hear) me play plenty of songs that are not Blues, some not even close to the Blues.

On the first Sunday of each month you can hear me playing Blues with Andy Tolins at Webster’s Cafe & Bookstore, but you’ll also hear us play Jazz standards such as “Green Dolphin Street” and “Four” by Mile Davis.

Drop in to Doggie’s Pub on home football Saturdays and catch me with the Skoal Brothers rocking out on Ozzy Osborne’s “War Pigs” followed by Pink Floyd’s “Time” and “Have A Cigar.”

I also hold the keyboard spot with Natascha & The Spy Boys, covering Pop/Americana tunes like “Don’t Wait Too Long” by Madeleine Petroux and “Folding Chair” by Regina Spektor.

Don’t be surprised on Thursday nights at Talleyrand Tavern and I break into some Backstreet Boys, Post Malone, Beatles, or Oasis.

So yes, I play a lot of different songs that are not considered Blues, but you will hear a bit of Blues in all of them, because among my influences are great Blues piano players like Dr. John, Eden Brent, David Maxwell, Otis Spann, Deanna Bogart, John Cleary, Honey Piazza; shall I go on? Several of the groups I perform with are bona fide Blues Bands: The Triple A Blues Band, the Doug McMinn Blues Band, my very own group the Denicats – we all primarily perform the Blues. But we all perform other styles of music, too, and knowing how to play the Blues provides the foundation for those other styles. So when you hear me playing a wedding processional, or cabaret tunes, or easy listening dinner music, know that the Blues is pulsing within all that music.

That’s why I call myself a Blues Piano Player.

August Already >>>

So July was a whirlwind of rehearsals and gigs, mostly due to Arts Fest (officially, The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts) in State College. Over the course of 4 days I played 9 shows with all of my regular bands: The Denicats, Triple A Blues Band, Natascha & The Spy Boys, The Skoal Brothers, plus a duo set with Andy Tolins for good measure.

(to be continued…)

It’s July!

And July means Arts Fest which means a lot of intense fun because I have to practice and rehearse and practice and rehearse for all the shows I’m playing that week – and then I get to play the shows!
You can look at my schedule (right over there >>>) to see when and where I’ll be playing with who.

A Rousing Start to 2019

Typically, January has been one of the slow months of the year for gigs. After all the hustle and excitement of the holiday season, people are exhausted, the weather turns colder, belts get tightened, and tax returns start to get worked on. At least, that’s how I always feel.

But this year, things barely slowed down. Because Christmas and New Year’s Eve fell on Mondays, I didn’t lose any of my regularly scheduled gigs, but did pick up extra holiday shows for those dates. Then Natascha and I answered the call for a last-minute party, I got a little TV time on the piano at WTAJ, played the Blues at Elk Creek Cafe and Bullfrog Brewery, and got Soulful at the State Theatre. Sure, there was a cancelled show because of the snow, but that will be rescheduled.

No matter the weather or the time of year, people will always want and need music, and I will be happy to provide – because I need it, too. So I look forward to seeing you out and about, humming along, singing a song, tapping your feet to whoever’s playing their music for you.