2021 YEAR-IN REVIEW
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.
Other Highlights of 2021
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.
Here’s a link to buy the track.
Here’s a link to stream the track
THE TABLE OF ELEMENTS
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 link to purchase this fine product. We all hope to hit the road again in the fall of 2022.
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.”
I hosted two online panels for the NJ chapter of ASTA (American String Teachers Association) on “Bringing Multistyle Strings to the Classroom,” and “Music of Black and LatinX Composers,’ with guests including Eddie Venegas, Rachel Barton Pine, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Martha Mooke, Andy Reiner, Dr. David Wallace, Alicia Svigals, and Heather Gonzales.
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!
You can sign up at https://www.patreon.com/joedeninzon
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again, STAY SAFE and HEALTHY. I love and appreciate you all and wish you a blessed New Year!