Thursday, December 23, 2010

New Year's Eve at the Inn at 202 Dover

Here is the local newspaper advertisement for the Peacock (Inn at 202 Dover) New Year's Eve event. A fine and elegant establishment, and worth the price ($100 person). Mike McShane (drums) and I will be doing our 2 man rhythm section thing (the last 3 years were with Dave Ross on bass, so this steps it up a little) for dancing, with (a new addition this year) Beth McDonald gracing the microphone, and taking our presentation to another level. Join us!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Video postings from Church Hill Theatre 11-13-10

This playlist has been created to house, comprehensively, the video postings from the Church Hill Theatre concert: "Happiness ... A Thing Called Jazz" on November 13, from both Beth's YT channel, and mine. If you are interested in being informed of (my) new videos as they are posted, you can subscribe to my channels (if you do not yet have a YouTube account, it's easy and free). Current postings are made on this years channel, and highlight postings on my original channel.   

Sunday, December 5, 2010

2 video promos for Avalon Theatre 12-11-10

Inspired by some of the video that the Avalon Theatre has posted to promote it's own shows, I put together this short video to promote my concert this Saturday. Will continue with the concept, and make some change in the promo content for each show. Speaking of the Avalon"s promo ...

Looking forward to my crack at it! Hope you can come!

Concert review - Church Hill Theatre - 11-13-10


The Joe Holt Trio and singer Beth McDonald put on a varied yet consistently enjoyable show at the Church Hill Theater in Church Hill, Maryland. As pianist Holt explained near the beginning of the night, he performs music billed as “Happiness Is A Thing Called Jazz.” There was a definite joy felt in each of the performances even though it did cover a wide range of music.

Joe Holt began the show with a medley of Fats Waller's best known songs: “Ain't Misbehavin'” (taken at a medium tempo) and a cooking “Honeysuckle Rose” which climaxed with some hot stride. After talking in an educational and informative manner about what jazz is, he played Scott Joplin's “The Entertainer” first as ragtime, and then as jazz in a witty manner.

Singer-songwriter Beth McDonald joined the pianist for a cheerful version of “The Glory Of Love.” Bassist Gary Cattley and drummer Mike McShane, regular members of the Joe Holt Trio, assisted the pianist on a rendition of “Fly Me To The Moon” that swung like Oscar Peterson. Next up were three originals by Ms. McDonald. The first piece was originally a lullaby but in this version had the feel of reggae. An instrumental had Cattley switching to tuba, and the third number was a humorous story in which Beth sang about the “joys” of being pregnant.

The trio performed Chick Corea's “Spain” (which Holt called a bit of a curve ball), coming up with a creative version that did not sound at all like Corea. The first half of the show concluded with the singer introducing an original folk song while accompanied by Holt.

The good spirits and eclectic program continued throughout the second half. Holt first played a classical melody unaccompanied and then, when joined by Cattley and McShane, it became an uptempo romp. The trio performed a thoughtful “Christmas Time Is Here” and a hard-swinging “Linus And Lucy.”

A “Disney Medley” comprised of “Zip-A-Dee-Do-Dah,” “The Bare Necessities” and “I Want To Be Like You” was a delight, featuring Beth McDonald and the tuba of Cattley. The singer was also heard at her best on “Somebody Loves Me” and a warm version of “Why Try To Change Me Now.” She concluded the show with a rockish original and an emotional duet with Holt on the spiritual standard “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.” Called back for an encore, an uptempo instrumental rendition of “When You're Smiling” segued into Ms. McDonald's touching vocal on Charlie Chaplin's “Smile.”

There were no slow moments throughout the show, the audience was rightfully enthusiastic, and Joe Holt and his musical friends succeeded in demonstrating that jazz can certainly be happy music.

Scott Yanow,
Author of ten books including Swing, The Jazz Singers, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76

Joe joins lecture series - "The Joy of Improvisation"

On Tuesday evening, November 23rd, I was invited to present "The Joy of Improvisation" at Cokesbury Village, in Hockessin DE, as part of their lecture series. Of course, a good bit of playing (on a very nice Steinway, in their auditorium) was involved, but, for once, I didn't have to worry about talking too much! In addition to my usual demonstrations of musical improvisation (including the "A.D.D.), several questions from the audience led the evening to some interesting places. A warm and enthusiastic response from the Cokesbury (retirement) residents, plus an invitation to return for next year's series, suggests that, sometimes, too much talking actually doesn't get me into trouble   :)  

Friday, November 26, 2010

Solo debut, in the Stoltz Listening Room, on December 11

The Avalon Theatre, in Easton, MD, is long established as the premier performance venue in these parts. With the recent addition of the Stoltz Listening Room, increased opportunity exists for both local/regional artists, and those whose audience is more targeted (for example, a solo pianist, who isn't George Winston, will very likely not draw the same number as the popular rock or country artist). Saturday December 11 could be bittersweet, with that beautiful grand piano on the main stage, but not bitter at all. Happy to bring my Roland along, and sweet to debut at the Avalon with my solo concert: "Spontaneous Joy". Can't wait! 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

American Cruise Lines moves to warmer waters

An unexpected addition to this year's performance itinerary were concerts on the American Star (pictured), and the American Spirit, for American Cruise Lines. This summer, Chestertown, MD was added, on a trial basis, to one of the (many) itineraries ACL offers. The combination of my relationship to the Prince Theatre, and old fashioned good timing, gave me the opportunity to be part of the Chestertown experience for the new visitors. My part in this "experience" was just a piece of a much larger effort by the town planning and tourism officials to create a warm and compelling welcome for our guests. By all accounts, it was a thorough success. As for me, when Chestertown stops were completed, I was retained by ACL to perform at the Cambridge, MD port, where the touring season continued through last week. Now, the season closes on the northern destinations, as all the ship head south. The ACL schedule shuts down completely in Jan/Feb, after which the southern runs resume. In mid to late Spring, the ships again enter the Chesepeake Bay, and (by all accounts) I'll be back in the saddle. It's been a good run.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Trio, with Beth McDonald, to perform at Church Hill Theatre on 11/13

And now the Church Hill Theatre changes the subject. Our concert will be the first performance (for the public. Rehearsals are ongoing for the theatre's upcoming schedule) in the space after the Rocky Horror show (someone has to do it). "Happiness ... A Thing Called Jazz" will begin at 8pm on Saturday, November 13. We will perform (solo and trio) instrumental selections from my new CD of the same title, along with a wide variety of happy stuff, including beautiful vocals by Beth, and some fun surprises. Learn more in the News links of the Church Hill Theatre website

Monday, November 1, 2010

Rocky Horror rocks Church Hill

...and now the dust settles. It was over a year ago that Steve Arnold shared with me the news that, once public, would be sure to rock the foundations of the local arts community: the Rocky Horror Show would be coming to the Church Hill stage (as the fall musical for 2010). As his musical director (for "Once On This Island" the year before, and "Trimuph of Love" in production at that time) he was excited to let me in on the scoop. Not sure that he was prepared for my response, though, which was, essentially, a blank stare. Other than the memory, as a teenager, of the marquis at the local movie theatre, suggesting that this was some kind of midnight gathering for creatures of another realm, I knew nothing. Perhaps a willful, and blissful ignorance. After recovering from the shock, Steve began explaining the plot, which didn't get much beyond the "sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania" (because the plot, or what there is of it, isn't really the focus), before I began receiving my education on the Rocky "experience". Though I have participated in the arts as a (full time) performing musician from the time I could drive myself to gigs, it wasn't until my late 40's that I began making a connection to the theater. On top of this, my movie education, in general, is rather abysmal (guess I have never been able to sit still for very long). My "education" intensified as the news became public, and the "buzz" quickly grew into a roar. As all of this swirled around, I had to confront the reality that I was able to dodge for the prior 2 years: that my performing schedule could no longer accommodate carving out 3 consecutive weekends, especially in the middle of the fall. Undaunted, Steve made it clear that he wanted me involved in as much of the process of this production as I was able to accommodate. Piece by piece, the puzzle was assembled. I would participate in the audition and rehearsal process as vocal music director, then hand off musical responsibility to the instrumentalists who would perform the show. It couldn't have worked any better. Phillip Dutton became the vital link in all of this, as he stepped into the process in the final weeks of rehearsal. A fine pianist, sensitive musician, and a quick study, Phil (in a skillful way) navigated the ropes, and in just a few rehearsals, I (reluctantly) released the baton. In the final week, the locally based band, THC in the Sex Lounge, and go-to reed man Ron Demby joined Phil to provide an appropriately tasteful, and solid foundation from which the cast would launch, and create an experience unlike this region has ever experienced in live theater. I did not anticipate how difficult the "hand off" would be, as I wanted to continue to be there in support of the amazing contributions of our (amazingly talented) cast. At the final dress rehearsal, the night before opening, I sat myself in the middle of the theater (one of only 3 in the audience), knowing it would be my one opportunity to take this all in (prior to the midnight closing show, as my own performing conflicted with all the others). It was everything that Steve envisioned it would be, and more. The commitment of our cast and crew (moving and working as, essentially as single unit) was as deep as anything I've seen, and summons my sincere respect for everyone involved. Now, we move on, but with an indelible mark left on the local arts community, and most especially, I'm sure, on the cast and crew, who turned the dreaming into being. Click on the "In the News" link of the Church Hill Theatre website to read the review of the Rocky Horror Show.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Another blog!

If I keep adding YouTube channels, and Facebook pages, I might as well do it here also. This "news" blog will be geared to events and happenings. The "journal" blog will continue to be a place of reflection; to share thoughts and ideas. After some deliberation, I've decided to go ahead and write this in the first person (you know who's doing this, anyway). Look for announcements of upcoming events, releases, reviews, and all the latest. Stay tuned ...