Joe Holt's Notes Newsletter
August, 2008
vol 4 no 8
                          Reader's cramp
Hope all is well where you are. If it's possible, I've been "flying by the seat of my pants" even more than usual. Rehearsals have begun for the Church Hill Theatre production of "Once On This Island" (a must-see), to open in mid-September". It's like my schedule was one of those dehydrated "magic sponges", and someone just added water. It will soon feel like "normal" again, but not until the nightly theatre rehearsals move beyond the music preparation for awhile, and the choreographer can spin in circles instead. Too much "drama" here, perhaps. Well, if you know anything about me, you know that I'm at no loss for music to play, ad infinitum, whenever at the piano. That is, well, unless you make me actually read it. My 250+ pg rehearsal book (of straight reading) is more (follow the dots) reading than I think I've done since college (with lots of late night poking and practicing). Since I've accepted the development of the improvisational/conceptual approach as my artistic calling, the gap between where I should be (as a sight reader, for the level at which I play), and where I am, has only widened. So, this is good for me - trial by grand staff. I could easily write more about how a(n extreme) conceptualist deals with note (as opposed to lead sheet) reading, but I'm already a week late with this newsletter, so, here's what's up...
Featured Performances 
FRIDAY 8/8- SUNDAY 8/10:
Joe performs with the Midiri Brothers sextet and trio at the Orange County (CA) Classic Jazz Festival
This popular festival features a variety of quality bands positioned throughout the Hilton in Costa Mesa Ca. Featuring a 4-man rhythm section (with Pat Mercuri on guitar), the Midiri band really swings!    
FRIDAY - SUNDAY 9/19,20,21,26,27,28,10/3,4,5 The Church Hill (Md) Theatre presents "Once On This Island", Directed by Steven Arnold. Joe serves as Musical Director This gem of a production is a must see! Combined with a strong cast (especially considering that's it's community theatre) and orchestra, it's an rare opportunity to see and hear this moving and infectious score and performance. Reserve early.
TUESDAY 9/23: 7pm
Solo piano entertainment concert - featuring jazz and popular standards, at the Philadelphia Protestant Home , Philadelphia, Pa for info (215)697-8564
Joe has performed in concert for the Phila. Protestant Home retirement residents and surrounding community every other month since 1994 (over 80 performances)! This event is like one big family, where Joe shares personal and family stories, and presents a solo piano concert. Unique among Joe's "venues", this program is an opportunity to enjoy a warm and friendly evening.     
THURSDAY thru SUNDAY, 10/16-19
Joe performs with the Midiri Brothers Sextet and Trio, and solo piano at the Sun Valley Jazz Festival, Sun Valley, Idaho
The beautiful Sun Valley Resort hosts one of America's premier festivals. The Midiri Brothers Band performs along with top circuit groups and musicians - and the festival experience is one of a kind

 FRIDAY 11/14/08: 8pm  Joe performs in concert,  "An Evening of Piano Improvisation" at the Prince Theatre, Chestertown, Md
Joe returns to the Prince Theatre, this time with the stage to himself. An evening of solo piano; from classical themes to popular standards to contemporary melodies (and a surprise or two) - all improvised. Of Joe's solo piano performances; reviewers, musical colleagues, and fans agree: "Joe is fun to listen to. He's even more fun to watch." "Joe Holt is Mr. Happy. The joy when he plays is boundless and infectious" "Joe touches lives wherever he goes" "When you listen to Joe, listen with your heart" Come, and share in the experience.    
TUESDAY 12/2: 2pm
Joe presents "The Night Before Christmas", at the Downs Cultural Center, Wilmington, De
Joe returns to the Downs Center for a fun solo piano performance built around the famous poem by Clement Clarke Moore. Downs center performances are open to the public, with no admission charge. Reservations are requested. (302)-575-0250 x2244
SUNDAY 1/11/09: 5pm
Joe performs with featured artists Sue Matthews - vocalist and E. Shawn Qaissaunee - guitar, with Tom Anthony - bass, for jazz vespers at Newark (DE) First Church of the Nazarene
This service "kicks off" the 2009 jazz vespers series at First Church with Sue's strong, dynamic vocal presence, Shawn's creative originality, and Tom and I ''holding down the fort". These services are a welcoming, encouraging, and "non-threatening" window to the presence and work of God in the creative arts. Plan to attend.

Other Opportunities 
Except for the Orange County festival weekend, I'll be with Holly Lane and Shore Jazz each Saturday night this month in Dewey Beach, De. The coming months will bring a diversity of public performances/events. Keep in touch with the schedule, as new dates are added.  
From the Comment Box
"Again, you did not fail to astound me. This improvisation was absolutely beautiful and moving, and I've actually replayed it three times."
"Love this!!! I never cease to enjoy your playing!!"

"I couldn't agree more about this being the most moving rendition of this song I have ever heard. Creative playing without losing the thoughtfulness and soulfulness that has made this song what it is takes a true understanding of the song. Thank you!"  

"A real class act. Just great!"
"Joe, you are the epitome of slightly, lightly and po-litely. I am a fan of your interpolations!"
August features:
Featured YouTube video - 
Featured You Tube video playlist -
Solo piano set at the 2008 Mammoth Lakes Festival
Watch for new posts of hymns and Christian songs on Joe's new GodTube channel
Joe Holt's Notes on the Radio is now available on cd by subscription. E-mail us for details 
Taking a break from recording over the summer. Look for upcoming CD release info in future newsletters.  
Video of hymn and Christian song performances are now posted on Joe's new God Tube channel. This is Joe's third active video sharing site. See his jazz piano postings on his original YouTube channel, and 2008 YouTube channel
view at Mammoth 
From the Journal
 The view from the front yard of our hosts for breakfast this morning. The whole town of Mammoth embraces this festival, and a significant percentage volunteer. The people are all nice, and very receptive to us (musicians). I rejoined the Midiri band (for festival travel) in 2006. As these will usually book far ahead, and are individually negotiated, it wasn't a straight line for my inclusion. Joe did manage to "adjust the contracts" that first year for several of the festivals, including this one. The only one left I haven't participated in is Connecticut, and that will change in 2 weeks. This is the first festival that I've been to 3 times, and I feel the charm.
From the online journal during the Mammoth festival. Entered on 7/12/08
Lessons for the Thoughtful Pianist
The following is excerpted from Joe's original series:
Lesson 11 - "I Can't Hear You" 

The unique ability that the piano has (among acoustic keyboard instruments) to control the volume/sound of each note as it is played, provides a healthy challenge for the pianist, and a unique opportunity for musical expression. If you were playing an organ, accordion, or some electronic keyboards, this would not be a factor. As long as you get the (proper) ket to go down, it will sound a consistent tone and volume. This can be altered only by the "stops" - or, predetermined sound selections. Even then, as you move from one key to the next, you maintain consistency (of sound and volume). On the piano, as you move from one key to the next, the only means of maintaining a consistent tone and volume, is to depress each key with an identical "touch". This, in and of itself, is challenge enough, explaining the necessity of technique exercises and studies...
Since we now have this ability to control the volume of individual notes on the piano, we are able to "bring out the melody" of the music we play. This means that we'll develop the skill of playing some notes louder, and others softer, simultaneously. This about it, when you listen to an orchestra or a band, isn't it often the case that one muician, or singer (at any given moment) stands out, and can be heard clearly above the others? In the case of pop music groups, imagine the annoyance of trying to hear the vocals through the blare of background strings turned up as loud as the singer - or - the rhythm guitar turned up so loud that with with each strum, you lose a syllable of the lyric. The fact is, there are (almost) always notes in music that are identified as most important, needing to be heard above the others. The piano is uniquely qualified to allow you to do this in performance... 

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At the Mammoth Lakes Jazz Jubilee last month (July)
Thanks for your continued interest. Hope the rest of your summer is full   (of)
Blessings and awareness