Friday, September 15, 2017


Sharing an article that appears in this month's edition of "Happenings at the Mainstay"; our monthly hard copy newsletter:

"Mainstay Mondays with Joe Holt began as a creative idea, launching from an initial 15-week engagement from Memorial Day to Labor Day last year, into a regular, ongoing Monday evening series. Joe, popular pianist extraordinaire and favorite accompanist to a multitude of musicians, curates the shows, headlining local, regional and national musicians. The setting is cabaret style, the show runs from 7 to about 8:30 p.m. and audience members can choose to bring their take-out dinners to enjoy beforehand, or even while listening (and Mainstay audiences are known to be very good listeners) to the always remarkable live music. “I’m always looking for a substantive show,” says Joe. “The Mainstay is a wonderfully intimate venue, so everyone is in the center of everything. It’s a special experience, particularly for the guest artists.” 
That experience is a collaboration between Joe and his guest musicians, which creates a unique space that extends to the audience. “Everybody feels a part of what’s going on,” he says. The energy in the room is palpable. He likens it to throwing a lasso around the room, bringing everyone into the same space. "Ultimately, it’s about the expression,” notes Joe, “a conscious surrender to the larger experience.” And Joe brings all his experience with him as host of the weekly venue. He’s been a musician professionally ever since he had a driver’s license and could get to gigs. He received the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award upon graduating from Triton High School in Runnemede, New Jersey in 1978 and has been a full time musician ever since, performing both regionally and nationally. His credentials include studies in classical and jazz and he is widely known for his creative improvisational skills. Along the way, Joe supplemented his college music degree to become a Board Certified Music Therapist, which is an extension of his approach to music as being a connection made with others. Picking up a music therapy contract at Heron Point in the mid 90's brought him to Chestertown for the first time, and eventually, to the Mainstay. Reflecting on the good reputation Mainstay Mondays enjoys, Joe continues to look for diversity and balance, interspersing local talent with regional and national performers in his orb. As the venture continues to evolve, Joe has been bringing a higher percentage of vocalists to the stage. Joe feels most at home accompanying, so it's a perfect fit. His enthusiasm for Mainstay Mondays is obvious. “What an opportunity, a privilege,” says Joe. “Musicians want to perform at the Mainstay. Now it’s my responsibility to use that opportunity in the most beneficial manner for everyone.“ And he never forgets his audience. “This area wonderfully supports its own. This is why so many magical things can happen here.”  

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