Happy SUMMER!! Looks to be the most sizzling, scorching, hottest summer on record! Musically and otherwise…
These past two months have brought me some definite career highlights and moments I will never forget.
In April, Sweet Plantain toured the U.S. Virgin Islands, with successful performances in St. John and St. Thomas.
Following that string of shows, we finished tracking our upcoming CD, and are currently in post-production.
On May 7th, I made my ROSfest debut, sitting in with the incredible band, Circuline, on their song “Silence Revealed!”
Stratospheerius hit the studio the following week, recording two new songs, and making strides towards completion of our upcoming CD!
On May 4-5th, I was honored to work with the talented orchestra players in Highland Schools in Medina, OH (Suburb of my hometown of Cleveland!). I love doing these residencies where I get to inspire and be inspired by talented young musicians, and perform my originals and arrangements of classic and modern rock with the school orchestra. Thank you to Rachel Gamin for the incredible work she does with these kids and for giving me the opportunity to work with them!
Finally, on May 20th and 21st, I performed with Jazz at Lincoln Center as part of an incredible program titled “America’s Unforgettable Crooners!” I was featured in the show, and got to perform with some of the most talented young cats I’ve ever met, including the incomparable musical director/drummer Bryan Carter (Leader of the house band on the new NBC show, Maya and Marty), singer/trumpeter Benny Banack III, Charles Turner, and Denzal Sinclair! Definitely a career highlight for me!
Upcoming shows in NYC, NJ, Maine, Connecticut, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona, and more!
When I was 17, I was a misfit at my high school A violin nerd who had a deep love for Led Zeppelin,. Rush, Kiss, ACDC, Zappa, and wanted to rock out! If only a camp like this existed when I was 17, I would have been all over it! I see my younger self in every kid who attends. There really is a familial atmosphere and I have made lasting friendships with campers, teachers, and fellow colleagues who are a part of this incredible experience! It is not just for string geeks; guitarists, bassists, singers, drummers, keyboard players, teachers and students of all ages are welcome! I can’t speak enough about what a game changer this week has been for so many musicians and can be for you! I am honored and excited to be coming back for my 6th year as a faculty member at the Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp/Music Festival! Register today at:
For 17 years now, I have been coming back to one of the 7 wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon, to take part in the Grand Canyon Music Festival. I started out just performing with its co-founder, world-renowned harmonica virtuoso Robert Bonfiglio. In 2006, my friend Chris Millateri and I had an idea to get the local community in Grand Canyon Village more connected to the festival. With the invaluable help of Rene Westbrook, who got the the grants, The Grand Canyon School of Rock was born! This will be our 8th year!
This is truly a passion project of mine. My partner guitarist Steve Benson, the local high school music teacher Bentley Monk, and I work with kids from Grand Canyon HS, many of whom are novice musicians, and put a band together in 3 days, culminating in two 45-minute performances at the end of the week.
Last year, my group Sweet Plantain made its festival debut, taking part in both the Grand Canyon Music Festival and the NACAP (Native American Composers Apprentice Program). This year we are honored to return. In addition to performing two concerts of our music, we will be traveling throughout the Navajo, Havasupai and Hopi reservations, where local kids spent time learning to write and notate music, and will be performing a free concert of their original works on Sunday September 4th. This program has been around for over a decade, is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, and won the President’s Award for it’s success.
All concerts take place at the Shrine of the Ages on the South Rim, Grand Canyon Village. Here’s the schedule:
Here’s aI worked on last year! I did most of the string arranging and playing, plus my dear friend the late great David Gotay plays a beautiful cello solo on “Dio Solitaire de la Notte.” The singer is Bella D and the music is intense, honest hard rock that tells an incredible story of what she overcame in recent years. Produced by drummer Charlie Zeleny. Check it out!
TILES is a renowned, Detroit-based progressive rock group, now in it’s second decade, which has toured with the lies of Dream Theater, and has done some shows with Stratospheerius. I am honored to be included on their new album, alongside such luminaries as Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull, as well as Mike Portnoy! Look for some upcoming shows with both of our bands.
Jimmy Pitts is a composer/keyboard virtuoso out of Detroit. This is my second time as a guest on one of his albums, alongside legendary drummer Marco Minneman (Eddie Jobson, Joe Satriani, Buddy Rich, Paul Gilbert, Terry Bozzio). I play on the song “A Faint Beautiful Glow,” which closes out the album.
Circuline is a new prog band that I have had the pleasure to record and perform with. This is their debut album, released last year.. Check out the song “Silence Revealed,’ masterfully written by my friend Randy McStine.
Check out the video for the song here:
Check out 3 of the latest songs from Stratospheerius! Our last single, “Take Your Medicine,” is getting rave responses and trending on Reverbnation.com
But I could have said that two months ago. It’s like winter never happened this year, but that’s a whole other conversation…
February and March were jam-packed, with Stratospheerius and Sweet plantain concerts in Brookyln, the Bronx, Western PA,and upstate NY. Also had a blast at the annual ASTA conference in Tampa, where I got to see old friends, give two presentations on modern electric string techniques and career advice, and got to jam with the likes of Christian Howes, Mike Block, and Darol Anger, to name a few.
Got a lot of great things coming up in the next two months, including a Sweet Plantain tour of the Virgin Islands, shows with Stratospheerius, my jazz group, studio projects, and more!
JOE DENINZON RESIDENCY/CONCERT AT HIGHLAND SCHOOLS. MEDINA, OH
I am honored to work the incredible Rachel Martin, who I met when she attended Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp. Rachel is the orchestra teacher at Highland Schools in Medina, OH. I’m psyched to work with her kids and rock out at the concert on May 4th. Here’s all the info!
This is the ONLY CAMP IN THE WORLD centered around electric strings, but is also open to vocalists, guitarists, drummers, keyboardists, and bassists. I am honored and humbled to be among world-renowned faculty including Doctor David Wallace, Sean Grissom, Laura Kaye, Haydn Vitera, and the trailblazing Mark Wood, who build my 7-string “Viper” electric violin!
The camp takes place July 10th-17th at Midamerca Nazarene University in Olathe, KS.
I had a blast in December. In between middle of all the private
events, studio sessions, and writing sessions, I was honored to opener
the legendary Martin Barre, guitarist from Jethro Tull , with my
friend, guitarist/songwriter Randy McStine. Sweet Plantain
]kicked ass on New Year’s Eve at
Morristown’s First Night.
It overwhelms me with sadness at the terrible loses the artistic
community has suffered in the past year; BB King, Ben E. King, Scott
Weiland, Natalie Cole, Lemmy Kilmeister, Kust Masur, Pierre Boulez,
David Bowie, Glen Frey, and many more! While I grieve at the
incredible void left by these musicians, we should appreciate all the
artists who currently inhabit this world and enrich it with their
amazing contributions. Go see a concert, play, or any kind of
performance by your favorite artists while they are still around! I
have had some life-changing experiences as an audience member that I
will carry with me forever. I hope everyone gets the opportunity to
have those magic moments.
Alright, enough of my babbling! Here’s what’s up:
Sweet Plantain goes into the studio to finally record our new CD! I will keep you all posted as the project gets completed.
I look forward to returning to Sycamore High School in Montgomery, OH (Near Cincinnatti) on Feb 18th and 19th to coach/perform with their elite Rock Ensemble, SEE 1
The Composers Now Festival brings together performances presented by venues, ensembles, orchestra, opera, musical theater and dance companies as well as many other innovative events through New York City. Composers are in attendance at all events which are open to the public. From jazz to indie, from classical to electronic and beyond, join us on a sonic journey through the landscape of the arts of our time.
This concert features the music of Mazz Swift (8 P.M.), Gene Pritsker/Sound Liberation (9 P.M.), and Joe Deninzon/Stratospheerius (10 P.M.)
Stratospheerius performs at WXTCs Festival to Benefit VH1s Save the Music and Thiel College Student Media!
Thiel College, Greenville, PA
Howard Miller Student Center LHR
FREE for Thiel College students
Suggested donation for public — $10
Food and drinks available from The Bistro
Doors open at 3:30pm
Show starts at 4pm
Other performers: Nevada Color, Ian Lloyd, John Ford of the Strawbs and more!
6+ hours of:
Rock, Classic Rock, Indie.Alt, Folk, Jazz, Hiphop/Rap and Gospel!
I’m excited to be returning to ASTA (American String Teacher’s Conference) in Tampa, FLA
I will be doing two presentations this year. Here is all the info.
Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina
700 South Florida Avenue
Tampa, Florida 33602
Friday 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
Get in the Groove!
Friday 9:30 a.m.-10:30 a.m. – Room: 1/2 A string section can double as a rhythm section! Get into the groove and learn how to navigate through a chord chart, chop, comp, scratch, and strum.
Friday 1:45 p.m.-2:45 p.m
Tools for the 21st Century String Player
Friday 1:45 p.m.-2:45 p.m. – Room: 1/2 It’s a jungle out there! What skill sets are needed to be a complete player today? Classical training, technical foundation, ability to improvise, business acumen, writing and arranging, playing electric and acoustic, stylistic versatility, recording technology – these and more! Join Sean Grissom, Joe Deninzon, and David Wallace for a panel discussion/demonstration/jam – drawing from their experiences to brandish the tools necessary to maximize employability as a string player in the 21st century! Presenter: Pinkney (Sean) Grissom, New York City Public Schools; Joe Deninzon, performer; David Wallace, Berklee College of Music
This week , I will be playing in the San Diego and Orange County, CA areas with renowned harmonica virtuoso, Robert Bonfiglio. I’ve been working with this guy for two decades now. He is a unique artist who has built his career playing harmonica concertos with symphony orchestras, co-founded the Grand Canyon Music Festival, and with our group, blows a mean blues harp, mixed with jazz, classical, and Brazilian music.
November also has Stratospheerius playing another Sonic Voyages Show in Bay Shore, Long Island.
Also, in my new life as a “new music” composer, I will be premiering “Bandemonium,” a new piece I wrote for the Licorice Clarinet Trio and Electric Violin as part of Gene Pritsker’s Composer’s Concordance Series at Spectrum on November 29th.
In December I will be opening for the legendary Martin Barre, guitarist with Jethro Tull. I will be performing as a duo with one of my favorite musicians, Randy McStine, a guitar prodigy and brilliant singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist. We’ll be doing shows in Sellersville, PA, Erie, and Binghamton, NY.
New Years Eve, I’ll be celebrating in Morristown with the lads in Sweet Plantain, as part of their First Night Series!
During all of this, I’m continuing to write a ton of new music to finish off the new Stratospheerius album, which he are aiming to put out next year, so stay tuned….
What an incredible ride it’s been! After another unforgettable residency at the Grand Canyon Music Festival with Robert Bonfiglio, Gran Canyon School of Rock, Sweet Plantain, and the NACAP program, I lived out a long-time dream of mine and premiered my Concerto for Seven String Electric Violin and Orchestra with the Muncie Symphony Orchestra on September 19th! I’m still pinching myself to make sure it was real! So grateful to Douglas Droste and all the kick-ass musicians at the Muncie Symphony for this incredible opportunity. The orchestra did an amazing job tackling what was not exactly an easy piece of music to play and making everything I imagined in my head come to life. I hope to take this piece to as many orchestras as possible, but I will cary this day in my memory as long as I live. This premier was definitely on that short list of lifetime milestones!
Here’s what’s next:
October has Stratospheerius back on the road tour dates in Nyack, NYC, State College, Erie PA, and Detroit.
In November, I will be playing in the San Diego and Orange County, CA areas with renowned harmonica virtuoso, Robert Bonfiglio.
November also has Stratospheerius playing out in Long Island, and I will be premiering a new Electric Violin composition for Gene Pritsger’s Composer’s Concordance at Spectrum on November 29th.
In December I will be touring, opening for the legendary Martin Barre, guitarist with Jethro Tull. I will be performing as a duo with one of my favorite musicians, Randy McStine, a guitar prodigy and brilliant singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist. We’ll be coming through Sellersville, PA, Erie, Cleveland, and Binghamton, NY. During all of this, I plan on writing a ton of new music to finish off the new Stratospheerius album, which I’m aiming to put out next year, so stay tuned…
DREAM DIARY: CONCERTO FOR 7-STRING ELECTRIC VIOLIN AND ORCHESTRA
Growing up as a classically trained violinist, I fell in love with rock and jazz at the age of 12, and my musical tree sprung new branches. While continuing my violin studies, I took up guitar and electric bass. In the late ’80s/early ’90s, the guitar hero reigned supreme in the rock world. Virtuosos such as Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Nuno Bettencourt, and Eric Johnson were highly revered. Every band had a guitarist who could “shred” and for one of the rare times in history, instrumental rock albums were on the Billboard charts. These guitar virtuosos influenced the way I approach the violin and were one of the reasons I started playing the electric violin. Dreams were a recurring theme in their music; Joe Satriani had a popular instrumental rock album titled “Flying in a Blue Dream, and Steve Vai’s “Passion and Warfare” was a huge influence.
In interviews, I read that Steve Vai kept a dream diary, writing down his dreams while they were still vivid when he woke up. He allowed those dreams to influence his compositions. Through my observations as a composer and songwriter, the best and easiest creations have come to me in my sleep or during a daydream, times when I was not fully conscious, as if someone or something was channeling them through me. I started a musical “dream diary” to write down melodies and themes that spontaneously came to me.
The DREAM DIARY concerto has a great deal of surreal imagery and is very dream-like. I researched the cycles of sleep, and thought it would be interesting to write a musical composition that loosely follows these different cycles. When you first fall asleep, you experience vivid sensations known as hypnagogic hallucinations. You are straddling the line between the real world and the dream world. There are sudden jerks of wakefulness followed by sensations of falling and/or flying. Hence the first movement is titled “Falling and Flying.” This movement is truly a tribute to the rock guitar albums of my youth.
The second movement, “Delta Waves,” represents a deeper stage of sleep where you are less likely to respond to outside noises and stimuli. The third is titled “Rapid Eye Movement,” the stage where most dreams occur, and the fourth is “Waking Dream,” when you are having the most vivid dreams, the ones that stay in your memory after you wake up. Although the music is loosely programatic, I leave the interpretation of the dreams being represented to the listener.
There have been some amazing concertos written for the electric violin, but I wanted to feature different effects and sonic textures I developed over the years while performing with my band, Stratospheerius, and show the rich palette of colors this instrument is capable of. I do this by incorporating distortion pedals, way, delay, loops, synths, whammies, and covering the range of the 7-string violin, who’s lowest note is a whole tone below cello range. The soloist plays in bass, alto, and treble clef.
Let me add that the opportunity to write and perform this concerto is a dream come true for me. If you are in or near Munice, IN on September 19th, and I hope to see you at the performance!