All the news that’s fit to print about Electric Violinist/Composer/Singer Joe Deninzon
First of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful and joyous Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, Festivus, whatever it is that you celebrate. These are tough times. Like many of you, my family has had had to cancel our travel plans this holiday season. We were going to visit my family in Cleveland, but on Wednesday December 22nd, I started to experience a mild fever, sore throat, body aches, all that fun stuff… Sure enough, I tested positive for Covid the next day! I’ve been isolating in my basemend/studio and just emerged yesterday. My doctor (and the CDC) said if I was symptom-free, a 5-day isolation period would be OK as long as I wear a. mask around the house. The day after I got sick, both of my kids got it too. Yulia has been holding out and tested negative just yesterday! The only good thing, (and yes it’s really the ONLY good thing), is that I got a TON of work done. Stratospheerius is working harder than ever, simultaneously mixing, mastering, and editing a double live CD/DVD and a new studio album. The live project has about 140 minutes of music (taken from tour 2019 and 2021 performances at the Progstock festival) and we hope to release it in May. We might have to leave some stuff out and release it as a bonus to some of our hardcore fans. It’s been a LOT of work, and “miles to go before we sleep,” as they say, but we can’t wait for you to experience this project when it’s released! In fact, we just dropped our first video/single from that upcoming live album, “Game of Chicken (Live at Progstock)” on Melodic Revolution Records. Here are links where you can stream it/watch the video/purchase the track:
We’ll be dropping videos and singles every two or three months until the album’s release.
Speaking of BANDCAMP, my RIDICULOUS/LUDICROUS holiday sale ends on January 5th! I’ve slashed prices on books, vinyl, t-shirts, mugs, CD’s, DVD’s downloads, and everything. Please brows the store and place an order if there is something missing from your collection.
The end of the year is a time to take stock. Even when I feel like I’m not getting anything done, when I look back on 2021, it’s been quite a busy year and there are some cool projects out there in the universe to prove that I’m not a slacker. Haha! So, here are some highlights of my year:
This past October, Stratospheerius returned to the stage with a series of live shows in the NY/NJ area. Our friends Tom Palmieri and Ann Rinaldi invited us to step in last minute and headline their Progstock Festival at Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, NJ when John Goodsall from Brand X got sick and had to cancel his show. John passed away last month and we would like to express our deepest condolences to his family and fans. That night, we got to record more material for our upcoming live CD/DVD and our friends, multi-instrematal genius Rachel Flowers and renowned guitarist/former band member Alex Skolnick got to sit in. There is an amazing performance of Chick Corea’s “Spain” with myself, Alex, and Rachel which we hope to include on the upcoming release.
In February, Stratospheerius released the fourth single from our upcoming studio album, this one called “Cognitive Dissonance,” with special guest vocalist Randy McStine. The video features claymation by our good friend/drummer/multi-instrumentalist/animator Patrick Carmichael.
After Patrick did such a bang-up job with our video claymation, I returned the favor by laying down some strings for his new song, “Table of Elements,” which he composed, played drums, flute, and percussion, and created stop-motion in the video which he produced. I even managed to clone myself! If you like what you hear and need strings for your projects, I can make your wildest string section dreams come true! Here’s Patrick’s new video:
On October 12th, 2019, the night before Stratospheerius recorded our live DVD, I recorded another live DVD with my brothers in Sweet Plantain as the concertmaster of Renaissance, featuring the legendary Annie Haslam on lead vocals. This was the band’s 50th anniversary tour, and that project was released this year!
Here is a clip from the DVD of the song :”Opening Out”
I also reconnected with my old friend Ron Baron, former bassist in Stratospheerius, who now resides in Tel Aviv, Israel. Together with producer Ben Wyde, we put together this fun EDM track called Booqboot. Check it out!
VIRAL VIGNETTES; “PASS THE MATZOH”
Finally, during the peak of the quarantine, my friend (former MTV/Nickelodeon producer) David P. Levin came up with an award-winning online series called “Viral Vignettes,” featuring scripted comedy skits with famous actors speaking on Zoom. Here’s one I contributed music for with actresses Renée Taylor (the Nanny) and Michelle Green (LA Law). If you like the clip, please purchase the movie. All proceeds go to benefit the Actor’s Fund, which helps performers during difficult times like these.
It was also a busy year for Sweet Plantain, performing at numerous concert series throughout the NY area. We hope to get into the studio in early 2022. Stanby for more updates…
As usual, my life an an educator is jam packed, whether virtual or in-person. This year, I taught my 11th MWROC (Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp), the only camp on the planet dedicated entirely to electric strings! This year was virtual again but we all hope to return in person to Olathe, KS in July of 2022.
I also taught at virtual Fiddle Hell, run by the great David Reiner and his family of fiddlers.
Strings Without Boundaries is an online series of workshops related by the great Julie Lyonn Lieberman, who has written over 20 books on string improvisation and has been a legend in the multi style string education world! I had the honor of teaching on her platform in January and July.
All classes are archived on the website and available for purchase.
I continued my private instruction through www.stringmasters.com, where I also gave a series of group classes called “Rock 101.”
In September, I returned to the Grand Canyon Music Festival, where I performed with renowned harmonica virtuoso Robert Bonfiglio, guitarist Steve Benson, bassist John Vail, and drummer Bryan Stone, as well as flutist Clare Hoffman and violinist/composer Cenovia Cumins. We also taught our School of Rock program which I co-founded in 2007.
This past August, I was the episode 10 guest on my friend Tracy Silvrman’s new podcast, “For the Greater Groove; the Future of Strings.” Tracy is one of the greatest living electric violinists, and a master educator and all around nice guy. I contributed to his awesome book, “Strum Bowing,” two years ago. The podcast is focused on getting string players to free themselves from the “chains” imposed on them by their classical training and explore more groove-based techniques like chopping, comping, etc. The other guests are a who’s who of legends in the alt strings universe (Mark O’Connor, Christian Howes, Mark Wood, Darol Anger, Earl Maneein). Here’s a link to my episode:
…And here are two jams that were part of the podcast, me and Tracy playing James Brown’s “The Chicken” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Freedom.”
Tracy is a rock star for me growing up, ever since he coached me when I was a college student in the 90’s and he was in the Turtle Island String Quartet, so for him to invite me to be on his podcast is a BIG fucking deal!
Finally, I am excited to have just completed my first semester on the faculty of the new Multistyle String program at NJCU! This is a new Bachelor’s and Master’s program started by my good friend and colleague, electric violist Martha Mooke. The faculty includes Jeremy Kittel, Regina Carter, and Dave Eggar. In 2022, my quartet Sweet Plantain will be added to the faculty as quartet-in-residence. I am super honored and excited about begin a part of this program and contributing to its development!
2022 is linning up to be another exciting year! In addition to the new Stratospheerius releases, I will be presenting at the in-person ASTA National Conference in Atlanta, GA on March 19th alongside a bunch of my colleagues, I have just been commissioned by renowned violinist Rachel Barton Pine to write a Jewish-inspired violin duo for her to perform with her daughter Sylvia in Israel in March. I also look forward to returning to teach at Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp in July and perform once again at the Grand Canyon Music Fest in August. There are many more projects in the works, but I don’t want this e-blast to turn into a novel!
One last thing, these mammoth projects I’m working on will require money for adequate promotion, manufacturing, etc. If you join my PATREON for as little as $5 per month, you will get early access to EVERYTHING I release, plus monthly unreleased material and “gig diaries,” where I share my adventures and misadventures as a gigging musician in New York. Heck, I might even give you a personal concert or music lesson!
All the news that’s fit to print about violinist/singer/mandolinist/composer Joe Deninzon
Happy Holidays, friends!
Looking for some gifts and stocking stuffers?
We got em RIGHT HERE!
For a limited time, all the music and merch on the Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius Bandcamp pages is …..well…CHEAPER!
CD’s: Only $5!
T-shirts-15 (Marked down from $20
Vinyl-$15 (Marked down from $20)
“Plugging in” Book/CD/DVD-only $20! (Marked down from $30)
Dec 3rd, Joe Deninzon & Stratospheerius release first single/video from upcoming live DVD!
On Friday, December 3rd, I’m celebrating my birthday by releasing the first single off Stratospheerius upcoming “Live at Progstock” CD/DVD, titled “Game of Chicken.”
Join the viewing party at 9:00 P.M. EST THIS FRIDAY!
We’ll be premiering the live video on YouTube and dropping the single on Bandcamp and all streaming services.
Here’s the link for the Youtube premier!
I am excited to be performing with some of my favorite musicians, for 5 FREE shows at American dream Mall in East Rutherford, NJ. One of the biggest malls on the planet, with indoor amusement parks, wave pools, ski runs, and a LOT of live music! Visit www.americandream.com for more information. Here’s the schedule:
Tuesday, Nov 30th, 5-9 PM: Jazz duo with guitarist Steve Benson
Sunday, December 5th, 5-8 PM: Electric string trio with Katie Jacoby (The Who) and Meg Okura (Pan Asian Jazz Ensemble)
Thursday, Dec 16th, 5-9 PM: Duo with electric cellist Bryan Wilson
Wednesday, Dec 22nd, 5-9 PM: Duo electric violin/live looping and tracks
Thursday, Dec 23rd, 5-9 PM: Jazz duo with guitarist Steve Benson
Hope to see you there! Happy Holidays, stay healthy, and be good to each other!
Progstock is the biggest Progressive Rock festival in the Northeast United States, and is run by our good friends Tom Palmieri and Ann Rinaldi. Last year, there were able to keep the festival going virtually. This year, they did it in person, but with strict rules on vaccinations for artists and attendees. With lower than normal attendance due to covid, they pushed forward and made it work! This was the festival’s 5th year and we are proud do say we have performed in 4 of them. This year was different. Upon hearing that their Saturday headliner Brand X had to cancel due to guitarist John Goodsall falling ill with pneumonia, we were invited on one week’s notice to headline the festival. Coincidentally, my friend Rachel Flowers would be playing right before us and our old guitarist Alex Skolnick would be accompanying bass legend Percy Jones in the set right after us. I saw a great opportunity to collaborate with both of these amazing artists and invite them up during our set as special guest. The festival was held at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway, NJ. In the middle of Stratospheerius’ set, I gave the band a break and did an intimate duo performance of Kansas “Dust in the Wind” with Rachel as a tribute both to recently deceased violinist/singer/songwriter Robie Steingart, and a tribute to the millions of people who passed during the pandemic. The second song was a tribute to Chick Corea, and we invited Alex Skolnick to join us on guitar. Playing with these two world-class musicians was an amazing experience, and the audience felt our energy and many said it was the highlight of the festival for them. Later on, Alex joined Stratospheerius for a song he co-wrote with me twenty years ago, “Heavy Shtettle.”
Here’s an awesome review by Thomas Hatton for Proglodytes:
Here’s a video of Spain with myself, Rachel Flowers, and Alex Skolnick shot from a member of the audience.
And here’s a video of Stratospheerius performing Storm Surge with special guest Rachel Flowers
Here are some photos. As we wrap up editing the Live from Progstock 2019 DVD, it looks like we have some new 2021 footage and audio that we might include. Who knows? Maybe we’ll turn it into a compilation…
Composers Now is an organization founded by renowned composer Tania Leon that promotes the music of modern composers. I am honored to be included in their IMPACT series this month alongside Laura Schwendinger. The livestream premier was on Thursday October 7th, but you can watch a rerun of it here. Thank you to Tanya and everyone in the organization.
Hot off our Progstock and Olive’s performances and hard at work on our upcoming live and studio albums, Stratospheerius is excited to return to Manhattan for the first time since the pandemic hit for a night of epic PROG!
After many years, I finally became a member of NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences). This means I can vote for the Grammy’s, and also submit some of my stuff. …cause hey, you never know!🤷♂️
Stratospheerius released two singles in the past year that qualify for consideration; “Cognitive Dissonance” (featuring Rany McStine) and “Storm Surge” (featuring Michael Sadler, Rachel Flowers, Fernando Perdomo, and Ruti Celli.) Here is the info, with a link to the page on my website where you can check out the songs and their videos. If you’re a member of NARAS, please review these songs when time allows. We humbly thank your your consideration.
It’s beginning to sound like a cliche by now, but I gotta say it: I hope you all are staying safe and healthy. As the summer winds down, I have to look back and say …..it’s been a fun ride! Work has come back with a vengeance, and I’ve been playing tons of private events, doing concerts with amazing artists like Brooklyn Raga Massive & Sweet Plantain, still teaching virtually (MWROC, Strings Without Boundaries, Stringmasters) and recording (including an Uber commercial that ran during the Olympics). I take NOTHING for granted and, with covid seeming to take a bit of a comeback, I hope and pray that live music survives and my fellow musicians and I don’t have to go back on unemployment! And I hope you all take the vaccine and take care of yourselves and each other. Here’s what’s planned for the fall…..and let’s hope it stays that way!
For Your Consideration
After many years, I finally became a member of NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences). This means I can vote for the Grammy’s, and also submit some of my stuff. …cause hey, you never know!🤷♂️
Stratospheerius released two singles in the past year that qualify for consideration; “Cognitive Dissonance” (featuring Rany McStine) and “Storm Surge” (featuring Michael Sadler, Rachel Flowers, Fernando Perdomo, and Ruti Celli.) Here is the info, with a link to the page on my website where you can check out the songs and their videos. If you’re a member of NARAS, please review these songs when time allows. We humbly thank your your consideration. https://joedeninzon.com/for-your-consideration/
SHOWS, SHOWS AND MORE SHOWS!!!
Ladies and Gentlemen, Stratospheerius is proud to announce that after a very long hiatus and barring unforeseen circumstances, we will be returning to the stage this fall! Three, count em, THREE NY-area shows!
My big brother from another mother, Tracy Silverman is a pioneer in the world of electric violin. He is the author of the string groove bible, “Strum Bowing,” which I contributed to. He’s worked with the Turtle Island String Quartet, The Whooten Brothers, John Adams (the composer not the president), Tery Riley. He has revolutionized the instrument in the realm of New Music. His new podcast, “For the Greater Groove,” explores the future of string playing through the prism of rhythm and groove outside of the classical cannon, something that I’ve been exploring and teaching through my whole career. He has interviewed Mark O’Connor, Cassey Driessen, Mark Wood, Julie Lyon Lieberman, and Dave Wallace, Darol Anger, and Christian Howes, to name a few, and I’m honored to be included among these giants of the string world! Here’s a link to my interview and here are two really fun groove collars we did in conjunction, jamming on James Brown’s “The Chicken” And “Freedom” by Jimi Hendrix.
This will be my 21st (?!) year performing with harmonica demon Robert Bonfiglio at the Grand Canyon Music Festival, but more importantly, the 15th year of the program I co-founded, the “Grand Canyon School of Rock.” No, we’re not talking about geology here, people, this is ROCK N ROLL, baby! We show up on Monday, form a rock n roll band with a bunch of local kids living near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, put a show together in three days, and perform it twice. It’s always an exhilarating experience bother us and the kids. Thank you to my friend and partner, guitarist Steve Benson, and bassist John Vail, as well as Rene Westbrook, and the new music teacher at Grand Canyon School, Amy Laughlin. Last year, the program was virtual Check out the song the kids wrote and recorded together!
Bonfiglio group performs at the Shrine of the Ages, South Rim on Friday Sept 17th & Saturday, Sept 18th at 7 PM PCT.
My parting gift for you is a recent video I did for a private event gig, performing a jazzy bossa nova version of “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd with my old friend Lucianna Padmore on drums, Stephen Benson on guitar, Nathan Peck on bass, and Jason Teboreck on keys. Hope you dig it!
All the news that’s fit to print about violinist/vocalist/composer/ and all around nice guy, Joe Deninzon
Happy Summer! I can’t tell you how excited I am that live music is coming back! My two main bands, Stratospheerius and Sweet Plantain, are finally getting back to the stage. Sweet Plantain is finalizing some shows in upstate NY, Stratospheerius is performing our first live gig in over a year at a private event on August 7th, and is about to announce a show at our favorite bar, Olives in Nyack on September 24th with Mile Marker Zero and Ad Astra. There will be shows booked in Manhattan as well. Expect another email blast real soon.
THE EDUCATION STATION
IN addition to performing, teaching is a deep passion of mine. I am fortunate to be a part of the revolution that is currently sweeping the world of string playing and string education. The goal is to break string players out of the limited scope that a strict classical education will bring. To prepare string players to be fluent in multiple styles of music, familiar with technology, social media promotion, and know how create your brand and function as a successful small business. With 23 years of experience as a busy freelancing violinist in New York and having earned Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in music, I KNOW the divide that exists between what you learn in a music conservatory and what you really need to know in the real world! I am involved in a number of amazing online educational opportunities in the “multistyle/alternative/whatever you wanna call it” string universe.
I am psyched to teach my Rock 101 group lessons on Stringmasters.com! We will learn about the basics of rock (power chords, blues and pentatonic scales, song construction), write a song together, work on improv, talk about gear, and explore how to chart out a song, create your part, and be a successful functioning string player in a band. Acoustic and electric players are welcome! Classes are June 16th, 23rd, and 30th at 7 Pm EST.
I have been teaching privately on the Stringmasters platform for the past year. This is a great resource where you can archive all your lessons. The small group lessons they are offering are for up to 5 people. More intimate than a large class. The price is only $150 for three lessons! It’s like getting three lessons for the price of one! Here is the breakdown:
Lesson 1: We learn about power chords, how they are the building blocks of rock and can be used as a foundation for thinking harmonically and learning songs. Then we blast through songs by Blink 182, Ramones, Cream, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The White Stripes, and more! I also introduce the blues and pentatonic scales.
Lesson 2: Building a riff: We write a song together using pentatonic/blues riffs and power chords. We also explore soloing using pentatonics.
Lesson 3: What is your role as string player in a rock band? When do you play in the song? How do you build a cool part without getting in the way of the singer? We talk about charting out a song, creating a roadmap for your part, where to play and lay out. We also talk about gear and stage presence.
The class is almost full, so if you’re a violinist, violist, or cellist with a classical background who wants to dive into the ocean of ROCK, this class is for you!
Julie Lyonn Lieberman is a living legend in the world of string education. I am honored to teach at her virtual String Summit for the third time, alongside an all-star cast of colleagues; Jeremy Kittel, Chris Haigh, Chuck Bontrager, David Wallace, Vi Wickam, Jeremy Cohen, and more!
I will be teaching and co-teaching four “Deep Dive” classes:
Thursday, July 8th. 9 AM-12:30 PM EST
“Soloing with Pizzaz” with Julie Lyon. Lieberman
Learn some tricks and schticks to make your solos more dramatic and more interesting. Learn to “get out of your own way” and become a successful improvisor.
Friday, July 9th. 9 AM-12:30 PM EST
“Rock & Pop String Arranging”
Saturday, July 10th. 9 AM-12:30 PM EST
“Rock Strings” with David Wallace
Sunday, July 11th 9 AM-12:30 PM EST
“Looping and Special Effects” with Chuck Bontrager
For the 11th year in a row, I have the honor of teaching at the camp run by the legendary Mark Wood, the man who designed my weapon of choice, my 7-string fretted Viper electric violin. This camp usually takes place in Olathe, KS, but once again we have decided to go virtual this year. I will be co-teaching an arranging class with Dr. David Wallace, head of the String Department at Berklee College of Music. There will be amazing workshops by Tracy Silverman, Chuck Bontrager, Mia Asan, Brooke Alfred, Greg Byers, Alissa Jackman, and more. This camp is mainly focused on electric strings but is open to all singers and instrumentalists.
Thank you to Martha Mooke for her tireless work in creating this program!
You can get a B.A. or a Master’s degree.
New Jersey City University is the first in the country to offer this cutting edge program. Multi-Style Strings embraces all styles of music, technology and improvisation with a mission to support creative exploration, empower artistic identity and provide practical tools essential for the 21st century string player to develop their potential