Thursday, December 31, 2015

Beth and Joe Return to The Cabaret at Germano's - rescheduled

We love Germano's, and are glad to be returning, this time for a Sunday brunch performance on February 28th (rescheduled from January 24th due to the snowstorm), with seating at 12pm. It's the one place we perform that is pretty much halfway between Beth and me, in Baltimore's Little Italy. And honestly, it's worth the drive. Join us for wonderful food, atmosphere, and a welcome into our world.  
From the Germano's website:
 "A songwriter from the time she could climb onto a piano bench, Beth McDonald was nearly 30 years old before she was willing to try to sing by herself in front of anyone - baptized by fire, so to speak, by becoming the lead singer for the nationally acclaimed DC area New Legacy Jazz Band, where she worked with her accompanist Joe Holt, who has enjoyed a 40-year career as a soloist and touring artist. Together, they perform at historic theaters, cabarets, churches, and festivals, covering music from various genres, such as gospel, blues, pop standards, and some contemporary material as well as Beth’s compositions, which fall into several of those categories. To them, sharing time on the stage is home, and they welcome you into that space. Come and make yourselves at home!" 
Order tickets

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Heron Point inaugurates Jazz Vespers

On Sunday November 15, the weekly Vespers (church) service at the Heron Point Retirement Community took a turn. The initiative for Jazz Vespers came from Chaplain Anne Ledbetter, to whom this was new. As some know, in my last church staff position (Chestertown Church of the Nazarene, 2003-2006), we ran a Jazz Vespers series for much of the time. This approach to worship is common enough that most have heard of it, and uncommon enough that most have not experienced it. For Anne and I, it was an opportunity to meld collective vision and expertise into a worship experience that was meaningful to everyone present (musicians included). 
There are differing approaches and understandings to Jazz Vespers, though all have one thing in common; the expanded role of music and creative performance in a(n ultimately) God-focused context. Central in my view, is the revelatory nature of creation:
 " For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities ... have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made ..." (Romans 1:20). This is a grounding for me in all things musical; to let music (creation and creativity) "speak". So perhaps you could say that the guys and I joined Chaplain Anne in a bit of "preachin'". The video post above (click through to the YouTube post for performer credits and more info) is the continuation of "Amazing Grace" after the congregational singing.
Looking forward to the next Jazz Vespers opportunity    

Monday, October 12, 2015

Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival Weekend, 2015

Again this year, the True Blue Jazz Series runs concurrent (and competing) with the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival; this weekend - October 14-17. The series continues to grow, featuring local and national acts, including headliner Diane Schuur on Friday night. For Saturday night's closing event, Geoff Gallante returns to join the Eddie Sherman Show for 2 concerts at 7:30 and 9:30pm. I'll be in the rhythm section, along with Bob Thomas and Mike McShane for these, in addition to the (free!) Rehoboth Beach Bandstand performance in the afternoon. Always look forward to performing with Geoff.
Click here for info and tickets.
In addition to the ticketed shows presented by both True Blue Series and the Rehoboth Beach Festival, many of the local restrauants offer jazz on the menu this weeekend. Just think of the entire town as a jazz club, and your expectations won't be far off the mark. For my part in the "trenches" I will be at the Cultured Pearl on Thursday (10/15) from 7-10 and Friday (10/16) from 4-7 with the Mike McShane Trio, featuring Dave Schiff on sax. Hope to see you there!
For more info on these and other performance dates, check the schedule.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Spend a "Weekend with Joe" at The Inn at Huntingfield Creek

Over the weekend of March 11-13, 2016, The Inn at Huntingfield Creek and I are partnering to offer a special event package "Weekend with Joe." Enjoy this wonderful Eastern Shore resort, and let me play piano for you while you're here!
This is an opportunity for those who don't live on Maryland's beautiful Eastern Shore (and 
even for those who do) to spend a unique and memorable weekend.

The weekend features:
All the comfort and amenities of a stay at the Inn at Huntingfield Creek. Innkeeper Joanne Rich elaborates:"We offer top notch lodging in a dynamic yet Zen setting. This 70 acre estate features over-the-top luxuries in a variety of accommodations including 5 Inn House Rooms and 7 swank Cottages. Add Joe's music offerings to Inn's comfort and hospitality, and guests are assured of nurturing mind, body and soul!"

The weekend schedule includes:
Friday evening
A meet and greet cocktail reception, including choice wines with delectable cocktail-hour taste temptations from the Inn at Huntingfield Creek Kitchen. Meet your hosts Jim and Joanne Rich. I'll be the pianist   ;)
Saturday morning
The Inn's famous full country breakfast, with piano accompaniment.
Saturday afternoon
"Conversations in Music"
An informal, interactive session. The conversation can be about music, or with music. For all who play piano, I'll invite you to join me in an "Intuitive Improvisation" duet. Open to all levels. I sat at the piano bench (pictured above) with Joanne Rich recently, who describes the "intuitive improvisation" experience: 
"This was such a liberating, fun (and semi-scary) exercise into to the realm of musical possibilities." 
Whether you play music yourself, or just enjoy being around it, you can look forward to a fun and memorable afternoon. 
Saturday evening
I asked "Chef Joanne" for the menu. Okay, maybe I'm asking a bit too soon   ;)
"Don't ask me now, Joe! I need to be inspired by the season and the offerings...but I promise you'll love it!" 
You can count on an interesting selection including a fish and meat entree and perhaps one of her renowned pastas, along with the best available veggies, something that incorporates ancient grains, the Inn's special fresh Corn Spoonbread and a decadent dessert or two. I've seen Jim and Joanne in the kitchen, many times, preparing meals and serving an Inn full of guests. You are in good hands.
Following dinner: A private concert living room concert (on the piano pictured above). 
Sunday morning
"Sunday Morning Stride"
The Inn's Sunday breakfasts are always a little over the top. The same full-country style with some special extras, accompanied by stride/classic jazz piano classics including spirituals and Gospel favorites from the New Orleans and Blues traditions.
Inn House Rooms- $675. + appl. taxes & 10% service chg. (selection 1st come, 1st serve)
Cottages- $825. + appl.taxes & 10% service chg. (selection 1st come, 1st serve)
Weekend includes- 2 nights stay, breakfasts, unlimited wine/beer & beverages, Fri. welcome cocktail party, Sat. gourmet dinner, and all music sessions/entertainment.

Contact the Inn for more info, and to book your room.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

New Video Playlist - The Inn at Huntingfield Creek - 5/14/15.

On occasion, I have the fun of presenting an entertainment program for the closing evening of a Vermont Bike Tours excursion, hosted by The Inn at Huntingfield Creek, in Rock Hall, MD. Not unlike my performances for American Cruise Lines, including a living room setting. Here, however, I get to play on a real piano (as opposed to a keyboard), and nothing is moving. Jim and Joanne (innkeepers) always provide a memorable experience for their guests. 
You can watch the 4 secections or in the box above, or click here to see the list of video posts on the playlist page.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Vespers at Heron Point

Exactly one year ago, the Rev. Dr. Anne Ledbetter came to Chestertown as the new Chaplain of Heron Point retirement community. Over the years (I have been providing music, in some fashion, at Heron Point since 1994, for independent as well as health care residents), I continue to have opportunity, on occasion, to play for a Vespers or memorial service led by the chaplain. It's probably fair to say that the same thought/sense quickly occurred to both Anne and me: "Now here's someone I can work with!". Anne brought about some structural change which allows them to bring me on board to provide service music for approximately half of the Vespers services; on Sundays at 4pm, which began this month. This is cool for, among other reasons, the longstanding rapport that I have with many of the residents (I always feel I am among many friends when I am over there), who are glad to see me in the seat. Also, there is always a part of me that misses providing (traditional) service music, and now I get to do just that. Finally, working in a church (or similar) environment is, for me, not a "peg in slot", but more about the common (God) focus and collaborative effort. Bingo. Or, to be Presbyterian, providence.

New Video Playlist - Beth McDonald and Joe - Parkville Nazarene

Beth McDonald and I were privileged to present a concert on Sunday morning May 17, 2015, for the warm and friendly congregation of the Baltimore/Parkville Church of the Nazarene, at the invitation of The Rev. Dr. Neal Gray - pastor. I knew that the piano was being tuned for the service, but what I didn't learn, until that morning, was that this was the first time in several years that the piano was used in church at all. Made it even sweeter. The 3 video posts in this playlist inclue one of Beth's originals. You can play the videos in the box above, or go to the playlist page by clicking here

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

New waterfront fine dining (with Joe) in Chestertown

The view from the dining room at the Inn at Worton Creek. On Memorial Day weekend, Chestertown's newest restaurant opened in the space that was once the Harbor House, providing a fine dining opportunity at the Worton Creek Marina. I played on Friday evening, and felt very much at home. Looking forward to perform, as house pianist for both locals and visitors roughly once every other weekend. Music is scheduled from 6-9pm.

So get in your boat (or car) and come on over.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Do Church With Us, Even If You Don't Attend.

Beth McDonald and I are looking forward to sharing worship experiences with concerts in the morning services of Melwood Church of the Nazarene, in Upper Marlboro, MD, and Baltimore/Parkville Church of the Nazarene over the next 2 Sundays: May 10 and 17, 2015. Selections from "All Nature Sings", our recent hymns/gospel release, along with Beth's contemporary/gospel originals are featured, in a presentation titled "From Broken to Redeemed." Service times are as follows:
Melwood - 5/10/15 - 10:45am
Parkville - 5/17/15 - 11:00am
If you can't attend, the good news (among other Good News) is that Melwood church live streams their worship. Click here to watch
If you can't watch live, the service is archived, so you can watch later.
So maybe we'll see you. Or you will see us.    ;)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Beth and Joe Return to Chestertown Church of the Nazarene on 4/19/15.

Or, you could say that we are returning to the scene of the crime. When I was on staff of this church, as Worship Arts Director, from 2003-2006, Beth was representative (and perhaps more so than anyone) of why I was there: to help encourage, develop and nuture the expressive gifts of those in the congregation; both to enhance our worship experience, and for God's larger purposes in their lives. Although Beth looks nothing like a brick wall, that is pretty much what I encountered when it came to her "taking the stage". Immensely talented, and equally private, Beth's gifts were kept hidden, known only to her closest family and friends. Over time, however (and with creative persistence), the wall began to chip away, leading to the day when Beth sang solo in public, as an adult, for the first time, as I accompanied her performing "Stormy Weather" in a jazz vesper's service. These days, the wall is gone, and Beth is an experienced professional. Along with her performing experience in festivals, theaters, cabaret venues and churches, she has produced 5 albums: 4 on her own label, along with our duo release: All Nature Sings. Hymns and gospel selections from this release will be featured in the concert, along with Beth's original contemporary/gospel music. Wherever we perform, it is an offering to God. This particular "homecoming" performance in Chestertown will be a special one.  

New Video Playlist - David Sacks and Joe Holt

On Saturday March 14, David Sacks; a trombonist from the CD area, and I presented a concert for the residents of Heron Point, in Chestertown, MD. We've done this several times now (sometimes including David's brother Steve, who is a saxophonist living/working in Japan), and it has become quite comfortable. We put this playlist together from the 3/14 show for promotional purposes, figuring that other audiences just might like it, too     ;)
Hope you enjoy the three video posts included here. You can click through the video above to see the playlist, or just watch it from here. Here is a direct link to the playlist:

Friday, March 6, 2015

10th Annual Women Helping Women Concert at the Garfield Center for the Arts

The Women Helping Women concert, now in it's 10th year at the Garfield center for the Arts in Chestertown, MD, doesn't need any help from me as far as getting the word out. Everyone (around here) knows, and every year is a sellout. It is a special event for a special cause. And in this wonderfully supportive community, that's all it takes. I get to sit in the accompanist seat (with the ornamented title of musical director) each year and hold hands with many fine performers, each one pouring their heart and soul into their individual performance, and the larger collective experience. If you want to touch the heart and soul of this community, and you've never come to Women Helping Women, you should make this the year, and order your tickets now. A performing arts center full of love - from the back of the stage to the last balcony seat - doesn't happen every day. But once a year, for sure. 

learn more    

Watch the concert on Ustream  (performance held on 3/18/15)


Friday, February 20, 2015

Private Instruction Now Available in Chestertown, MD Area

We profit from being on both sides of the educational exchange. Here is proof that I was a beginner piano student once; my certificate of completion of my first piano method book. This is a marker of the beginning of a long (and winding) road for me, that continues to now (or to infinity and beyond). For many years, I was active in private music instruction, but not so in recent years. And I miss it. One of the roadblocks was having a viable location where I could maintain a regular teaching schedule. Thankful to have now worked out an arrangement with St. Paul's Episcopal Church, in Chestertown, MD for the use of their parish hall (and grand piano) for lessons. So I'll keep practicing, learning and growing, and continue to encourage others in the same.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New Video Playlist - First Wesleyan Church - 11/23/14

On November 23, 2014, at 3pm, I had the privilege of performing solo piano in concert at the First Wesleyan Church, in Easton MD. This one was a bit unique, in that my friend Dawn Steward arranged this especially for her piano students, to demonstrate musical improvisation. It was also open to the public. I had the privilege of participating in the worship service that morning, as well. The afternoon concert featured musical improvisation from many directions, a few of which are featured in these 4 video posts. Hope you enjoy them.
You can watch in the box above, of access the playlist page here.  

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Beth McDonald returns to the Garfield Center for the Arts in Chestertown, for "Melody and Meaning".

On Saturday. March 21, 2015 at 8pm, singer/songwriter Beth McDonald returns to the stage at the Garfield Center for the Arts, in Chestertown, MD for the third consecutive year. The concert; "Melody and Meaning" is an eclectic mix of classic and contemporary, featuring jazz and popular favorites across the years, as well as Beth's "new vintage" original music. I will be joined in accompanying Beth by local favorites Pres Harding - guitar and Jeff Davis -bass. John Schratwieser, former Executive Director of the Garfield Center (Prince Theatre) says: "Beth McDonald and Joe Holt are spectacular on their own and pure magic together!" Come, see for yourself. Don't miss this opportunity to experience the many sides of Beth McDonald. Visit or call 410-810-2060 for tickets.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Mike McShane Trio at The Cultured Pearl, Rehoboth Beach, DE, in 2015

Jazz, at least periodically, has found another home in Rehoboth Beach, DE. Mike McShane has established his trio as a favorite at this unique and popular venue. Upscale but casual; The Cultured Pearl and tasteful, swinging jazz find themselves a perfect fit. The trio is comprised of Mike and I, playing the 2 man rhythm section, and a featured regional jazz artist. Paul Midiri often joins us on vibes, but other fine musicians can be found on the stage, including saxophonist Vince Lardear. The times vary by season; earlier in the winter, later in the summer. Dates may change (and some new may be added), so email me or double check with my schedule before coming out:

January:     Friday/Saturday 1/9, 10
February:    Friday/Saturday 2/20, 21
April:          Friday/Saturday 4/10, 11
May:              Friday/Saturday/Sunday 5/22, 23, 24
July:           Friday/Saturday 7/3, 4
September: Friday/Saturday/Sunday 9/4, 5, 6
October:     Thursday/Friday(early shift) 10/15, 16 (Jazz Festival week)
December:  Saturday/Sunday 12/26, 27

Hope to see you!