Joe Holt's Notes Newsletter vol. 1 no. 7
August 2005


Hope all is well with you. Thank you for your continued intrest in reading this newsletter, and welcome to those recieving this for the first time. the "dog days" of summer are here (I know I can say this because everyone on my mailing list at this time is from North America). I hope that you are having an enjoyable summer. Things (gigs) slow down a little bit this time of year, but not much. Perhaps you can make it to one of the performances listed below. Now about this month...

in this issue
  • Product in focus
  • Jazz Performances and Piano Entertainment Concerts
  • Church Sponsored and Christian Music Concerts
  • What it's all about

  • Jazz Performances and Piano Entertainment Concerts

    I'm reminded this month how blessed I am for the Sullivan's gig. It is invaluable to collaborate in artistic expression with great artists. Some of you have, over the weeks and months, stopped in to visit. I'm sure that you'll agree that something out of the ordinary is going on there. Jazz duos at Sullivan's continue this month (with Burce Kaminsky on bass) on all Tuesdays and a couple of Saturdays. This month also finds me with Bryan Clark at Dover Downs, and at the Downs Cultural Center in Wilmington, De. Click on the link below for more info.

    Church Sponsored and Christian Music Concerts

    This month we take a breather. My lone event in this catagory is a concert featuring vocalist Tim Dove at the Chestertown (Md) Church of the Nazarene, in which I accompany. Much is happening, though. You'll see some of this reflected in the Future Highlights section of the performance page, including a "He's Steppin" Out" concert in Upper Marlboro Md on Sept. 16. Over the coming months, expect to see a lot more.

    What it's all about

    There are moments of clarity from time to time; epiphanies, perhaps, that shape our thinking and course of action thereafter. One such moment where (I believe) God was at work in shaping my understanding was in an unlikely place: the Showboat Casino in Atlantic City. Another story altogether could be told of how I got there in the first place. Suffice to say; there I was, in 1993(?), playing solo stride piano 6 days a week (for about 6 months) in the hotel lobby. You could say that I (my station) was the "musical welcome station" where many made their initial entrance into the building, and encountered their first taste of the atmosphre they would find. At the time, the Showboat engaged dozens of entertainers, many of them full time. Strolling ukelele players, clowns on stilts making baloons for children (it was a full service hotel complete with multiple restraunts and a bowling alley), 6 piece dixieland bands (in three shifts), and more worked to create a theme park atmosphere that attracted many people, especially seniors. One gentleman stands out. He was often one of several (sometimes many) who would gather around the piano, for a time, for a sing along. My attitude when that happened was "oh great! so much for enjoying myself, I hope it's over soon", while trying to put on a good face and acting like that's what I was there for. Time playing for "sing alongs" was time taken from the creative playing I wanted to do (or so I thought).Then. one day, as I was watching this gentleman and the pleasure he was having, it hit me. He made the bus trip to the Showboat because he was seeking out a particular atmosphere and experience that cannot be found anywhere else nearby, of which I (at that moment) was the provider. I was there for him (and all like him), not me. All at once, this man's smile, indicating his pleasure in the moment, became most important. It told me that I was lifting him up, that I was doing my job. The "sing-alongs" suddenly soared from inconvienences to be tolerated, to being the highlight of the gig. What changed? Not, as some would accuse, the level or depth of the presentation, but rather the attitide of it's delivery. We ought to be making music (and everything else) for the benefit of those around us. This does not mean a cheapening or dumbing down, or a lowering of artistic integrity. It does mean that we put on an attitude of servanthood (love) to others. Rather than being mutually exclusive; creativity and "loving your neighbor as yourself" can form a union which God blesses. I've been told that the more I grow in artistic creativity, the more I "diminish my audience". My experience has taught me otherwise.

    Product in focus

    This month's product in focus is last months's sequel (is this a soap opera? reality tv? my own personal sit com?). I'm off to a grand start here. In last month's newsletter, "Norman Satchell plays Bill Hollis" was the featured recording. "Expressions of Love" is, essentially, volume two. This recording is another collection of Bill Hollis tunes (although there are no plans, to my knowledge, for additional volumes, there is suficcient material (Bill's original compositions) for several more). In last month's product in focus (Norman Satchell plays Bill Hollis), you may have gathered that Norman's decision to add electronic percussion (after the fact) was not my favorite facet of the project. As soon as he began making noises about hiring me again for the sequel, I connected him with drummer Paul Midiri (at the time I was working extensively with the Midiri Brothers). Norman was happy to engage him also, so then we were set. This, like the first,was recorded in components, the difference being that, instead of electronic percussion being added last, Paul was brought in. He completed the recording in one very productive session. This is not the ideal way to record a rhythm section, but studio and other limitations necessitated it. Much of the time you can't tell (and now you have the inside scoop). Like last month, if you like easy listening jazz, then you'll enjoy this one.

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