John McEuen

I just had an incredible phone call with the one and only John McEuen, check it out!! He is playing his solo show on June, 30th!! –Tickets–

How did you get involved playing with Phish? What was that like?

Several of my kids were telling me about this upcoming band “PHISH” while I was living in Salt Lake City. I missed a couple opportunities to see them playing at a local club. I asked my son Ryan what he wanted for his birthday, and he said “I want you to SEE PHISH!” I told him I’d pick a city and meet him there. Sacramento it was, and I found that they were playing Arco Arena. It was a sold out 14,000 seat show, and I went “wow, I guess they are doing well.” I told my son to meet me at the loading dock around 4pm… sure enough the bus pulls up and Trey says “JOHN MCEUEN!! Are you going to sit in with us?” and I responded “Sure, as long as you can get me and my son some dinner”… so I sat in half a set with them. I was shocked that they did two 2hr sets, and during the break Trey was writing out a set list. He said he didn’t want to play any of the same songs… “from the first set!?” Trey responded… “no from this week.” This was their 7th 4hr show of the week. I thought, damn these guys are good!

Things just kept going from there. After all these years of being in the music business, and really loving it, the reason I do this is to play and see what I can bring to the audience. Now both with the Dirt band, and solo. The real “impact” of my years doing this might have been best stated by a Phish Phan. On the way to record with Phish in Las Vegas, we pulled over at a rest stop on the high way and there were some Phish fans in a VW bus. This cute girl came over and said “Aren’t you the old folk dude who sat in Sacramento?” I said “Yes, I’m the old folk dude!”… I was proud to claim the title of “THE OLD FOLK DUDE”. Hahaha!

What was it like working with the Sesame Street team?

In the 44 years of NGDB and solo albums and shows, film score work and other productions, I’ve worked with a lot of people. But out of all of them… when I got a call that said “John, would you like to do Oh Suzanna on the banjo with 50 goats and a cow, and have Elmo introduce you?” my response was, “LetmethinkaboutitYES!” It was one of the most fun productions I’ve ever done. What a bunch of pros, oh my god. (The dvd is called “Kid’s favorite country songs”)

35 albums with Nitty Gritty Dirt band, another 10 by yourself… not to mention the countless other projects you’ve worked on! Long road… more to come?

Oh yeah, I’ve got too much to do. I’m very thankful that I feel like there is not enough time. The Steve Martin album I produced/arranged/played-on won a Grammy this year!

How did you hook up with Steve Martin?

Well I’ve known Steve 45 years, wait a minute… 48 years, holy crap! We worked in Disney land together during our teenage years, went to the same high school our senior year. When he started doing stand up, working on being a comedian, I told my brother Bill (he was managing the NGDB at the time) to check him out.. that he was really funny …he ended up managing him for 20 years, produced all the albums and several films. All along the way Steve was playing the banjo. We started at the same time, and I have always been glad he says I helped him learn to play. So let’s fast forward to now: Steve Martin wrote banjo songs I only wish I had. I said, you play the banjo, let me produce it. I think these banjo songs off this album will stand the test of time. I’ve never seen him so happy as he is taking his music out there! Although his music tour is not a comedy show, regardless, funny stuff like… “My wife wrote this song, it is called… When are you going to stop playing that damn Banjo!?” is all through it.

We look forward to seeing you again at Infinity Hall! We loved your show with Nitty Gritty Dirt Band last October!

I did my little 10 minute solo in the middle of the show. And I was hoping I could come back solo. I tell people all over the road about this audience… you have to ask them to stop applauding. I like all the gigs you know? I’m playing with Poco tomorrow night in Kansas city, that will be fun. But for me!? Playing Infinity hall will be MORE FUN!

If I was going to add anything to this… it would be. What I do with the Dirt band is about 20% of what I actually do… I’m looking forward to running my banjo, fiddle and strangely tuned guitar through some paces, into some faces. Point is, I do a lot more than what I do in the framework of the Dirt band, that is why I play solo.

Gerry Beaudoin

This morning I got a chance to ask Gerry Beaudoin a few questions. Gerry is a jazz guitar veteran and an outstanding musician. He performs at Infinity Hall on May 21st with J.Geils! –Tickets–

When did you first meet J Geils?
I met J in 1992 at a guitar show in Boston MA. I was hired to perform a set of jazz guitar and after my set a gentleman came up to me and said he really enjoyed it and had some of my CD’s. When I asked him him his name he said “Jay, J.Geils.” It took a minute to sink in and then I told him I had some of his Cd’s. We ended up talking for a while and he told me he was really into playing jazz and blues but had no outlet for it. He started showing up at my gigs to sit in and before long we started doing shows and we have been partners ever since and done six CD’s and a DVD together either as the New Guitar Summit with Duke Robillard or as the J.Geils-Gerry Beaudoin quartet or Quintet.

What is your favorite standard to play? In what key?
I think that the great ballad Body and Soul is my favorite. I like the original key of Db. I really feel flat keys have a darker sound than sharp keys. The harmonic possibilities are endless and when the bridge modulates to the key of D Major with a different chord sequence it is like someone throws on a light switch and brightens everything up.

What is your favorite thing about being on the road?
After all these years my favorite thing is getting home. Just joking. I think that being away from all the distractions of your everyday life allows you to focus more on the music and you achieve a higher degree of competency and satisfaction from playing because you are playing on a higher level because it becomes your prime focus while you are out.

I hear you are working on a new album?
Just finished it in fact this week. It is my new quartet of guitar, electric bass, vibes and drums. I wrote seven of the nine tunes and am really proud of it. The band was my regular bass player of over 20 years Bob Nieske and my drummer Les Harris Jr augmented with Rich Greenblatt on vibes. It is a project I have always wanted to do since I started my recording career twenty years ago and felt the time was right. I also am finishing a Cd with ten original tunes with original members of my favorite band of all time Roomful of Blues. That should be done early May. It’s really funny but this year I am completing two new Cd’s and Acoustic Disc (mandolinist David Grisman’s record company) is re-issuing my two old award winning Gerry Beaudoin Trio Cd’s with David Grisman. Never had that happen before.

We’re looking forward to your show at Infinity Hall on May 21st w/ J Geils!!
I am too. It is always fun and a great musical experience to trade licks with J. He is a really tasteful guitar player with a breadth and knowledge to his playing in the jazz and blues genre’s that few people have today.

Peter Wolf 5/22

Peter Wolf was the vocalist and front-man of the J. Geils Band, and often acted as a sort of manager. Wolf was known for his charismatic stage antics of fast-talking quips and “pole-vaulting” with the mic stand. He and keyboard player Seth Justman were responsible for most of the song writing. Songs such as “Centerfold”, “Freeze-Frame”, “Must of Got Lost”, “Flamethrower”, “Love Stinks”, “Angel In Blue”, “Looking for a Love” and “Give it to Me”. Creative differences followed their Freeze-Frame album, causing the J. Geils Band and Peter Wolf to part ways in 1983.

Come check out Peter Wolf on Saturday May 22nd @Infinity Hall!

Come check out J Geils on Friday May 21st @ Infinity Hall!!

Joey DeFrancesco

If you love the Hammond B-3 organ, not many people play it like Joey DeFrancesco. He’ll blow his way through just about any tune… check out Joey on “Fly Me To The Moon”…

On May 2nd you’ll see the THE JOEY DEFRANCESCO TRIO!! Line-up: Joey DeFrancesco (Organ, trumpet, vocals), Paul Bollenbach (guitar), Byron Landham (drums). Don’t hesitate, grab those tickets now!! — TICKETS —

Explore the History and Lore of Blues Harmonica in America: Blues Harmonica Blowout

It is a little known fact that President Abraham Lincoln always carried a harmonica in his pocket. Weighing less than four ounces, the harmonica was an easily portable instrument that first gained American popularity in the south during the Civil War.

During the early 1950’s, the harmonica made its way deep into the heart of blues music, carried along in the pockets of the black migrants who traveled north to Chicago, Detroit, and New York, and south to St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans.

Today, there are some who consider the harmonica to be more of a toy than a professional instrument. Luckily, however, blues music is experiencing a major renaissance in America, and the harmonica has re-emerged as a distinguished instrument with a rich cultural history

The Blues Harmonica Blowout, founded and trademarked in 1991 by Mark Hummel, was launched as a series of musical festivals featuring contemporary harmonica superstars playing tribute to some of the greatest blues legends.

The Blues Harmonica Blowout has grown to become an internationally recognized event, with performances at the Nottoden Blues Fest in Norway, the San Francisco Blues Fest, the Chicago Blues Fest, Mississippi Valley Blues Fest, BB King’s, Monterrey Jazz Festival, Poconos Blues Fest, American Music Festival, and the Heritage Blues Festival, to name a few.

Norfolk, Connecticut’s own Infinity Hall will proudly present a spectacular Blues Harmonica Blowout this Thursday, April 22nd at 8pm. Whatever you do, don’t miss this unbelievable opportunity to experience a chromatic storm of sweet, smooth, pure, old school blues, featuring Mark Hummel, James Montgomery, Magic Dick, and Sugar Ray Norcia.

Even for those who are not blues aficionados, this concert offers a profound introduction to the history and lore of the blues harmonica in America.

Alex and the Kaleidoscope Band: A Unique Family-Friendly Concert for Children Ages 2 – 92

If you are a parent, grandparent, or teacher… take my advice and mark your calendar for a fantastic, memorable, fun-filled family event scheduled for April 18th at Infinity Hall. Better yet, buy your tickets in advance! This unique family-friendly concert is an ideal opportunity for parents, caregivers and adults to connect with young children through music.

Alex Mitnick and his five-piece Kaleidoscope band, composed of guitar, bass, drums, percussion, trombone, violin, french horns, piano and two female singers, will bring joy, delight, wonder and glee to children from ages 2 to 92.

Most recently, Alex and the Kaleidoscope Band earned the Parents’ Choice Foundation Recommended Award, the Children’s Music Web Award for Best Album for Pre-Schoolers, the Children’s Music Web Award for Best Album For Older Children (Ages 8-12) as well as awards from iParenting, the Film Advisory Board, and the Independent Music Awards.

Performances by Alex and the Kaleidoscope band have been described as lively, spirited, humorous, sensitive, engaging, energetic, educational, eclectic, magical, hand-clapping, dance-inspiring, improvisational, sing-along, events. Their repertoire includes music from South America, Africa and the Caribbean, as well as original, poetic songs composed by band founder and lyricist Alex Mitnick.

How did the band get their start? Back in the late 90’s, Philadelphia based musicians Alex Mitnick and Alan Bell began writing musicals for children focused on the theme of peace and communication. In 2004 the band released their first album. Since that time, Alex and the Kaleidoscope band have released three more albums.

The band has been featured in schools, libraries, theaters, and festivals across the country, as well as in corporate venues such as the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Philadelphia’s World Café Live, Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, The World Bank and many others.

Today, in addition to his role as founder and lyricist for the band, Alex Mitnick directs the music program at the Princeton Montessori School in Princeton, N.J. He is also a faculty member of the Princeton Center For Teacher Education where he directs workshops for educators who wish to incorporate music into their classrooms.