Open Mic – Booked Solid (August 17, 2011)

Greetings open mic fans,
It seems like the fall rush has started early (at open mic, not the Greek orgs).  We just had a lot of performers and quite a few audience members last week and schools (and this college) haven’t even started yet.  Regrettable we were unable to give away a monkey since they were apparently all locked in their cage and I don’t have a key.  Luckily, I managed to liberate enough of them for at least the next few weeks.
Anyway, I played first with the inimitable Garret on box drum and some vocals.  We did a nice set and I probably would have played longer if less people had been appearing.  None of them wanted to go “first” so Garret stepped up.  He did a great Talking Heads cover and (a rarity for him) a sort of mainstream song, Petty’s You’re So Bad.  His originals rounded out a strong set.
Marty Z. graced us with his presence again and performed an original about his truck, some classic country sounds and a song a friend of his wrote in Nashville which was certainly ready to broadcast on the radio.  Charles played a number of his originals and proved once again that he can write strong hooks that drive songs.  His fans were not disappointed.  12 til Midnight played next and consisted of a singer with Charles on guitar and another guitar player.  All three perform well and sound good together.
Yes, even Jesse Kitts and Mallory were back (Jesse performed).  Jesse played a selection of his (original) greatest hits such as (wrong names) Sun Bulb and Snow.  His passion and the good songs kept everyone’s attention.  Allen Free played a few songs such as those by Bright Eyes (I missed part of his set) and did a great job running the coffee shop.  Josh Gilotty covered Folsom Prison, For What It’s Worth  and Heaven’s Door among other songs.
The next Josh (Feick) (who also played at the Saturday Pig Roast on Scenery Hill as did Cat Zisk) played a solo set including a Blink 182 song which Jesse must have liked since he was wearing a Blink 182 shirt as well as his well-known song about being really angry at someone.  Finally, the Sammy Downs Band came onstage as a trio with two guitars and a singer/tambourine player.  They are tuning up for a real gig and have a very interesting sound.  Basically the singer is strong and they are a few rehearsals away from getting paid regularly.
And so, we packed up and went home (where I rested from all this action),
See you Wednesday and please sign up early if you want to be sure to get a slot.
Best wishes,

September & October @ Jozart

Jozart Center for the Arts will offer the following classes beginning in late August:

  • Zumba with Lynne now on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. as well as on Saturdays at 10 a.m.
  • Yoga with Paula Sabo now on Tuesdays at 5 p.m.
  • Guitar & mandolin instruction by appointment with Duane Galensky.
  • Drum instruction by appointment with Rob Berletich.

Open Art Sessions with artist-in-residence Terry Binkney are held twice weekly on Mondays from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. and Wednesdays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

In keeping with a decade long tradition, Jozart Center for the Arts holds a weekly “Open Mic” event from 8-11 p.m. This event is for all ages and is alcohol free. Musicians, poets, comedians and artists of all types are invited to sign up for a performance slot. The Center’s coffee shop is open during “Open Mic” and offers coffee, tea, soda, water and light refreshments.

Mark your calendars: Wednesday, October 26 is the date of the Center’s annual “Open Mic” Halloween Party. Come in costume. Prizes awarded for best costumes. Thursday, October 27, an exhibit featuring works by Matthew Holesapple and Jared Altamare will open. A meet and greet reception with the artists will be held beginning at 6 p.m.

For more information about classes or events, please call the Center at 724-938-9730 or email

Open Mic – Busy, Busy, Busy (August 10, 2011)

Greetings music fans,

Last week the open mic was in full fall form despite the fact that it is still summer. We had a strong turnout and a lot of good music. I started out and had only played a song or two when Garret arrived. We worked over Annabelle, I Walk the Line (Garret singing), and Johnny Too Bad among others. We sounded pretty tight I might add.

After us 12 ’til Midnight played with our old friend Charles and his friend. It was mostly two guitars and one voice, but they also did a nice duet. The friend did some good picking too. Charles rounded out their set with some solo covers “Dance All Day, Talk All Night” whatever song that is and a few others. His originals tend to have strong hooks.

Chris Sovereign took the stage for some anime-related stand-up. Luckily some of the audience knew enough to play along and he got a respectable reaction. In case you forgot, doing stand-up well is very hard. Garret had fun with “When You’re a Boy” (Boys Work it Out). He also played a number of his originals although not ones I recognized too well. He did a very nice cover of It’s All Over Now Baby Blue which he said was based on the Them version that I didn’t know existed.

Izaac Short and Josh Gilotty performed next with a two guitars one singer approach. Both can play leads well so it was fun to watch. I think they are still working up their act. Cat and Sully then played the three songs they wrote together (as in two weeks ago) but they sounded tighter and the details were cleaner. One of them has real jazzy elements as well. I suspect practice had occurred! They also tried several of each others’ songs as a duo like Chemistry and (If You Would) Be My Girlfriend.

AJ closed the action as we pushed up against 11 PM with a couple of songs like his original No Matter What You Do. All in all, it was a good night of strong music and non-stop entertainment. Luckily the rumored strange visitor in town event did not occur although a few people were on edge for the first hour.

Anyway, see you tomorrow at the Jozart open mic, 8-11.
Best wishes,

Open Mic – Lots of Energy (August 3, 2011)

Greetings music fans,
Well, we certainly had a critical mass at open mic last week. We had performers and an audience all night mostly dominated by 16-18 year olds. Of course Mark M and Kristen also appeared after a long absence (and engaged to each other as well). All in all, it was an energetic night.

I played first and was joined by Garret on box drum. Of course, we sounded good on songs including Burial and I Will Survive. Following me, no one else was moved to play right away so Garret did. He played a strong solo set of mostly originals including his new hit I Travel by Bottle.

Garret was followed by the return of Mark M. who played some of his old classics, but also noodled around showing off his blazing lead skills (even on an acoustic). Come back, Mark! Kirsten was also convinced to take the stage and sing a song as well which is a good thing since she should be sharing that voice more.

After Mark, Cat, then Cat and Sully, then Sully played. Both were great individually, but what was of most interest to me was when they performed three songs they wrote together. The songs and the duo performances worked well and it was fascinating to hear a meshing of their two (both totally original) songwriting styles. This set included the enigmatic The Cowboy and the Pirate. By the way, Cat is gracing the stage at the Washington Farmers Market 3-6 this Thursday.

Josh Feick played a decent set including Green Day and his song that expressed how mad he was in direct language (repeatedly using some of the letters from his surname). He was followed by Charles who performed a number of interesting originals among other songs. Finally, Nigel finally received his guitar from Chicago and he played us a sample song or two as a closer.

Garret and I then cleared the Center and went home.
See you tomorrow 8-11,

Open Mic – Music Music Music (July 27, 2011)

Greetings people who actually know where music comes from,
Hint, it’s not a computer or small flash device, those are just digitized simulacrums.
(Yes, look it up if you don’t know it, I always do. I looked up and learned “aleatoric” as in art yesterday from a student’s post no less).
Real music is made by instruments including the voice and percussion that move the air in an analog fashion. Most people believe
music needs a rhythm and a melody so, for example, certain types of rap pieces are not music but rather spoken poetry since they have no melody, but hip-hop (which has a melody) is music.
Drum circles may not have a melody and may be solely rhythmic and thus not music either. Sorry about the mini lecture for those of you nodding off.

Anyway, it was great to be back enjoying real music at Jozarts last Wednesday. I opened and was quickly joined by Garret. We played a longish set of including This Boy and Viking Reggae (which I did better than I had the previous night at Amy’s Friday’s open mic). I even got Garret to sing I Walk the Line by playing it on guitar to accompany him. We were followed by the inimitable Scott Stewart who breezed in from Almost Wheeling. He reported that the family is fine etc. He actually played three covers in a row which is three more than he usually plays in a set including While My Guitar Gently Weeps. He has a new CD coming out and we heard some of those songs too and he also played a song from his first Jozart open mic almost ten years ago called “Fairy Tale Heroine”. (That’s a female hero not a drug to save you some time). Anyway, he was quite melodic and we caught up on lost time.

Charles played for his acolytes and the rest of us. He played a few covers and some old originals and new originals. It was nice to see his fans swaying in time and waving cell phone lights at him (see they are good for something). He was followed by Garret who played another strong set and surprised me with “Gentle on My Mind” arguably the best thing Glen C. ever wrote. Well, I liked it. All in all it was a good night for music.

I am a little punchy today partly because I am relieved that Bish is recovering etc. from his accident. I was pretty worried for a while. Hey, Bish, get well soon!

Also (not open mic related) I got to be part of and listen to some great music at the Whiskey Rebellion Festival Concert. I first heard Adam Sutch (who we all believe actually “won” the national championship) just dominate the hammer dulcimer. Then after some sound checks, my band “Amy M and the Coattail Riders” played a half hour set interrupted by two or three power failures (luckily between songs but they were distracting). We were well received despite the heat at 6 PM and the technical issue. After us a very talented bluegrass band, Midnight Drive, played a strong set with fast picking and tight harmonies. They were followed by our own (from the Mon Valley) Weedrags including Gary Antol, Andy Gregg and Mark Snider. They were great and really captured the crowd especially with their locally inspired songs. Finally, we heard an all-start bluegrass band headed by “nationally renowned Bluegrass and heritage music performers Mike Compton and Joe Newberry”. They were all extremely talented and a pleasure to watch and listen to. And then there was a great fireworks show so it’s hard to complain at all.

I hope to see you all tomorrow for the open mic 8-11,