Joe Holt's Notes Newsletter
April 2005


Hope all is well. Welcome to all (you know who you are) who have added your names to my mailing list this past month. This time I (at least appear to) know which month it is. Perhaps you've noticed, the last two months were both February. In the second February (actually March), things remained busy; continuing to slowly inch up (as happens the first several months of every year) to 33 engagements (and will likely continue to increase over the coming few months, slowing down a little in July and August before picking up for the rest of the year). I'll probably stop "keeping score" at this point, I think you get the idea. The highlight of March (at least for me) was the He's Steppin Out concert with Brian and my trio on Palm Sunday evening. It went great, and now I have an excellent promotional video. Look for a clip on my website soon, hopefully this month. About this month.....

in this issue
  • Product in focus
  • Jazz Performances and Piano Entertainment Concerts
  • Church Sponsored and Christian Music Concerts
  • About This Business

  • Jazz Performances and Piano Entertainment Concerts

    March had it's share of "good gigs", among them the first of (probably) many at Dover Downs with Bryan Clark. Bryan is a supremely talanted entertainer with whom I'm pleased to now be associated. Although I'm not with him in April (when he'll be traveling with a "rat pack" revue as a Sammy Davis Jr. impersonator), I'll give you a "heads up" on May 7 when we'll be at Dover Downs, in the Garden Cafe from 5:00-8:40pm. Back to this month (April), Sullivan's (jazz duos) continues. Click on the link below for specific dates and info. Note also (another heads up) that I return to the Philadelphia Protestant Home for a piano entertianment concert on 5/5 at 7pm.

    Church Sponsored and Christian Music Concerts

    As mentioned above, the "He's Steppin Out" concert on Palm Sunday evening went very well. In the coming weeks, I hope to have the video (at least in part) available on my website. Stay tuned. I'll be with Brian Whitaker again (alone this time, not with the rhythm section) on 4/17 at the Calvary Church of the Nazarene in Elmira, NY at 6pm. I am also participating with Rosemary Benson and friends in a jazz vespers service in Pitman NJ on 4/24. Click on the link below for more info.

    About This Business

    When I mention to people that I perform over 400 engagements each year (and still do - at least for now- despite my now increased time commitment to the Joe Holt's Notes label and my 1/2 time staff position at the Chestertown church), it often requires further explanation (since, obviously, there aren't 400 nights available each year for me to play at Sullivan's - or anywhere else). One of the most important aspects of being a musician is being realistic about the business and what it requires (my friend Alan Dale often remarks, "it's a horrible business ... I like the playing part"). This is especially true if you actually expect to make a living. From the beginning I have felt that this business is viable, though difficult (for starters, being contract work where you are responsible for everything, as opposed to an employee where your responsibilities are more focused), the key being: finding enough work (or, put in business language, creating enough billable hours). For me this has meant - learning how I can contribute/provide benefit to others and then develop niches/create opportunities to carry it out. Also, for me, it has meant seeking the will of God and understanding that my opportunities are often His provisions for me. And I'm not talking about church, but in all things: from being a "picnic pianist" to a casino entertainer to a music therapist. And these provisions are opportunities to serve others. Look for stories of my "adventures" in coming editions of this newsletter.

    Product in focus

    This month's product in focus is my (still) latest CD; "He's Steppin Out". Released in 2002, this recording was originally approached as a children's album. In part, it is, but as a whole it touches all ages. To this point, "He's Steppin Out" has been difficult to "pigeonhole", which presents practical problems in marketing. That's okay, because in time I believe this recording (and any sequels to follow) will create it's own niche, especially coupled with the "new and improved" "He's Steppin Out" concert.

    This project began in the early 1980's when, as music director of the Immanuel Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Bellmawr, NJ, I decided to start a children's choir. Not pleased with the selection of material available for children, I determined to begin writing my own. This was out of no ambition to be a songwriter, but rather as a wholly practical endeavor. The songs were written, primarily, as teaching tools for the children. By the time each song was performed, the children knew the words and their meaning completely, and they sang with conviction (if not always in key - and yes, it was very cute)! Years later, long after the choir had disbanded and children had grown up, it would ocassionally be suggested to me to preserve these songs in a recording. Once I understood how I could do it: by reconceptualizing the songs for my jazz trio, and bringing in a comic actor (Jimmy Lawlor, who was brilliant!) for the additional parts, the project took off. The final project combines some of the "vintage" tunes with new songs written just for this recording. I was able to include all three of my children on this CD: Joseph (then 13) playing trumpet on "I Got a Toothache", Charie (then 9) singing "Come as a Child", and Robbie (then 5) with a speaking part after "One Big Mess". This project is just what I envisioned it would be, and I'm proud of it. As I put the proper promotional time in (which I've recently reconfigured my schedule to begin doing), I'm confident that tihs CD will indeed find it's niche.

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