Joe Holt's Notes Newsletter
Febriary 2008
vol4 no2
I hope this finds you well. It's been nice to slow down a little (some who know me may question that), but not for long. Although not as (ridiculously) busy as December, the schedule is already gearing back up after a shorter than usual "breather". The "tension" I occasionally feel is between what I see as (perhaps) my best strength, and, ultimately, calling: making connections as a solo pianist - and all of the other (related, but not exactly the same) performing situations in which I find myself. Of course, I quickly stop, recognizing that, at some level at least, I am being silly, and, of course, am grateful for all the opportunities given. However, the desire and vision remains in a specific "direction" to which  my energies are expended. Thanks to YouTube, many of you have responded in views, ratings, and comments to reinforce my sense of all this. I will continue to pour significant effort into the direction to which I feel called: playing piano for you. In the "Getting Involved" section (below), I'll be asking for your "leads", or ideas. Thanks so much for your interest and encouragement. Now, what's happening...
Featured Performances
FRIDAY thru SUNDAY: 2/1-3
Joe performs with the
Midiri Brothers Sextet and trio, and solo piano at the Central Illinois Jazz Festival

A return trip for the band to this longstanding midwest event. After a rousing debut last year, the band returns - this year with an additional performance for the trio, and Joe scheduled in the "pianorama".
Joe performs with the
Midiri Brothers Sextet and trio at the Jazz Bash by the Bay, Monterey, Ca.
This is the band's first trip to this festival in beautiful Monterey. Joe performs with the sextet and trio in what is sure to be a rousing debut!
SUNDAY 4/13: 5pm
Joe performs with
Holly Lane and Shore Jazz for a jazz vespers service at the Newark (De) First Church of the Nazarene
Holly Lane, Mike McShane, and John Ewart join Joe for this year's final vespers service. Joe often performs with Holly and the guys in resort areas of lower Delaware. Here is a chance for those in the greater Wilmington, De. area to see and hear this fine performer. No admission charge. A (no obligation) free-will offering will be taken for Habitat for Humanity during the service.
9/2 thru 9/16:
Joe performs with the Midiri Brothers quintet on the Crystal Symphony for Jazzdagen Tours
14-day cruise from London to New York.This voyage of the Vikings stops at many interesting ports, such as: Invergordon (Scotland), Reykjavik (Iceland), Nuuk (Greenland) and more. The band performs each night, in addition to special events.
Other Opportunities
Even though it's February - traditionally slower for public events, the calendar is peppered with a variety of opportunities. The return of "He's Steppin' Out" (highlighted above in "The Big Story", a variety of jazz gigs, and a new (potentially steady) "supper club" style restaurant gig (w/ bassist Dave Ross) in Easton, Md (see below) provide you (potentially) the opportunity to choose, and me, the opportunity not to be bored.    :)        See the schedule.
In year 3 of radio! In February of 2006, "Joe Holt's Notes on the Radio" began airing on WNJC, in Southern New Jersey. Now, in 2008, on WKDI 840am in Denton, Md, the show continues, and thanks to the Radio Archive (and webmaster Max Murray) is available for your enjoyment anytime.   
Recording has begun for the 2008 (3rd consectutive) Christmas CD. New on my youtube channel will be a monthly post from the recording studio.           see the playlist
Speaking of youtube: Now over 1,000 new views each week, and growing!
This month's Featured Playlist - "Solo Piano at Festivals"
Other News
Beginning on Thurs, 1/31, I embark on something unusual (for me) - a steady restaurant gig. Though it has not previously been "in the plan" to do this, I'm excited, actually,to announce appearances with bassist Dave Ross at The Inn at 202 Dover, in Easton, Md. This has the potential to become ongoing. As of now, I'm projecting this thru Valentine's Day. Keep in touch with the schedule for the latest confirmed dates.
Speaking of embarking, there is still room for your reservation on the Midiri Brothers jazz cruise (and despite the outdated photo of the band, I'll be there!)  . Treat yourself to luxury!
Get Involved
To state it simply (perhaps): artist self-management is a lot of work! I'm delighted to have Kim Mills working (part-time, at this point) on developing my record label (a lot more work!). She is also helping coordinate with those willing to "help the cause"; in particular with creative performance opportunities and CD placement. I am directing my own efforts, at this point, to find and secure small venue performances; where I can simply sit down and play the piano (or keyboard, if necessary), in a relaxed atmosphere. In the same line as (the growing trend of) Concerts in Your Home, we are also looking for small venues, or even spaces to rent where I can meet, and perform for just a few. Even as larger performance venues and audiences are coming available to me, I can't help but feel that what I do is well suited for this. This, and the "rapport" approach (as opposed to the aloof "star on the stage" that some aspire to) that I've always followed make me keep returning to this concept. Any thoughts? If so, get in touch with Kim at  Thanks!
From the Journal
The past week was especially busy (early January often is) and uplifting, as well as instructive, to me. One highlights of the new year, thus far, is the long planned and anticipated inauguration of a jazz vespers series at the First Church of the Nazarene in Newark, De. Click on the video link, and choose the 2008 page for some youtube posts from yesterday's service. I just finished typing the video description to one of the posts (Smoke Gets in Your Eyes), which became somewhat of an apologetic. It reads, in part:
"Jazz today can mean as many things as there are people giving consideration to it, it seems. For the informed, and the "practitioners", the diversity of opinion often lies in the many points in the development/evolution of the art form that one can "hang their hat". It is not the case, I, and many, would argue - that the "cutting edge", or the fully developed "vocabulary", or any other "litmus test" defines true jazz, and all but the current/contemporary expressions serve as "museum pieces". Not at all. Every point (in the development of anything) is encased in a validity that does not diminish or fade (though it may lose it's cultural connection). Case in point: in this selection, the improvisation is more "guarded", and is formed, in large part, of statements and embellishments of the (toon's original) melody. Because the musicians chose to take this approach - which is grounded in jazz history, and not in sync with contemporary practice - does it become less "jazz", or less "valid"? No (unless your approach to art is akin to a religious fundamentalist - who requires agreement with a certain and specific "truth" before "the hand of" fellowship is extended), and - No (unless you believe that your own personal "litmus test" is more important than the genuine connections that are made)."
It was a fun and fulfilling evening, and there will be 3 more vespers services over the coming months. Come and check it out, if you're nearby.
posted Monday, January 14
The Big Story
"He's Steppin' Out" returns!
Honestly, I had reached the point with this project, performance, and promotion of simply putting it down. Not a "defeat", but an acknowlegement of it not being time. I still believe in this, as do others who "get it", and am confident of the contribution it can make. Recent events, however, coupled with the invitation for Brian Whitaker and I to lead a morning service at the Church of the Nazarene in Symrna, De. give me pause to reflect, and perhaps reconsider. If you are unfamiliar with this project, check out the CD, and watch a live performance on the "He's Steppin' Out" video playlist. 
This may not turn out to be a truly "big" story yet, but it might. I'm keeping other developments "close to the vest" for now - but if they pan out, you'll be the first to know!
Joe Holt's Notes Records
Hymn and Christian Song Improvisations
My first CD release on my own label, now 8 years ago, is a collection of inspirational favorites. The cover design (pictured) is a reflection on my understanding that God is "revealed" and knowable thru creation. It is this "pointing toward God" that undergirds my understanding of what I do. Not that I favor a "sectarian" approach to music and the arts (which is a real tragedy, in my view), but instead, understanding that God works thru "all that He has made". The selection on this CD, however are the overtly "Christian" titles - played my way.
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Thanks again for your continued interest. As opportunities expand, I'm delighted that I can share these with you. Communication is a two way street, of course, and (as many of you know), I'm happy to hear from you at any time, and will gladly respond to your e-mail. Will look forward to staying in touch.
Blessings and awareness,