Primary Blog/Gigging Musician Podcast/Episode 217 - Gigging Musician Podcast: Joe Deninzon Interview

Episode 217 - Gigging Musician Podcast: Joe Deninzon Interview

Friday, January 19, 2024

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Episode Recap

In this episode, Jared Judge welcomes the multi-talented Joe Deninzon, the current violinist for the renowned band Kansas, to The Gigging Musician Podcast. Joe shares his fascinating journey from his classical music roots in Russia to becoming a prominent figure in the rock and jazz scenes. He delves into his experiences with his band 'Stratospheerius,' his role in the movie "Maestro," and the unique challenges of touring with Kansas. Joe also discusses the importance of versatility in music, his work as a string contractor, and the significance of understanding the business side of music. His insights into balancing creativity with practical skills offer invaluable lessons for aspiring musicians.

Best Quote

"I think a lot of musicians buy into the myth that you really need to practice 8 hours a day. You need to practice two or three, tops. Quality hours a day, where you're mindful of everything you do. It's not quantity, it's quality."


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What's up, gigging pros? Welcome to another episode of The Gigging Musician Podcast.

I am super excited today because we have a very special guest who is currently on break in the middle of a tour for a band you may or may not have heard of called Kansas. And so I am very excited to welcome to The Gigging Musician Podcast, Joe Deninzon.

Joe, thanks for being here. I appreciate it. Thanks Jared, and thanks for pronouncing my name.

It gets butchered all the time. That's why I asked before the podcast started to be here. I'm honored to have been invited, so thank you.

Well, it's certainly my pleasure. I've been seeing your name around quite a bit lately. You are multi talented.

You are first and foremost, people might know you as the current violinist for the band Kansas, but you are also a singer, a composer, a mandolinist, which is fun. And you recently were featured on the movie "Maestro". So I'm just very impressed by all the things that you do.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and what are some of the projects that you got going on, and feel free to reiterate some of the ones I already mentioned.

Sure. I was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, to a family of classical musicians. My father's a violinist, my mother's a pianist, and we emigrated in 1979 when I was four years old.

We were living in a one bedroom apartment in Queens in Farakaway with my three uncles, my dad, my two uncles, my grandma, my mom and myself, and my dad and my uncle were both practicing orchestral excerpts, trying to win auditions because they needed a job, you know.

My uncle's viola player, was a viola player. So my dad won the job in the Cleveland Orchestra. We ended up settling in Cleveland, and my dad just retired last year after 44 years service in the Cleveland Orchestra.

Wow. I grew up in a very classical environment, but as an immigrant kid, I felt kind of out of place and really fell in love with MTV and pop culture in the 80's.

At first it was rock and roll and pop music and hip hop and later discovered jazz when I was in high school, played in jazz band, and I studied classical violin and piano growing up, and took the violin a little more seriously and really got into the violin. But my heart was in rock and roll primarily, and also jazz.

And it didn't occur to me that you could do those things on the violin until a few monumental events in my life.

So because of that, I picked up the electric bass and the guitar, and I was always into singing and writing songs, so I had like a parallel life growing up playing in rock bands and in jazz bands, learning how to improvise on the guitar and the bass and going to Cleveland Institute of Music and playing in Cleveland youth orchestra and learning classical repertoire on the violin. So I had those two parallel worlds.

And at one point, there was a guy named Michael Stanley, local celebrity in Cleveland, whose twin daughters attended my high school.

He saw me play at a talent show and invited me to sit in with his band, the front row Theater, which no longer exists. I was 16, and I knew the language of rock and blues, but I never had applied it to the violin.

It never even occurred to me. And it just kind of fell into place because I had the language in my head and I knew how to play solos and I improvised. So that was a pivotal moment.

And I also had a mentor who was a Ukrainian jazz guitarist named Al Krassel who taught me how to improvise and introduced me to Jean Lucpati and Stefan Rappelli.

And I ended up going to Indiana University and doing a double major in jazz studies and on the violin and classical performance. Then I moved to New York City and did my master's at Manhattan School of Music in jazz and commercial violin because I knew I didn't want to be like my dad and play in an orchestra.

I wanted to be creative. I was always playing in bands growing up, and I was always writing music, and that's what I wanted to do in addition to playing classical music. But that was just one of the many things I enjoyed.

So in New York, I was hustling, playing all kinds of gigs, and we can get into that later, some of the things I learned and discovered. But I also really wanted to have my original project. I always need to have an outlet for creativity.

So I formed a group called 'Stratospheerius', which started out as an all instrumental fusion project. When I was in college, I was looking for like minded people in New York to play with me.

And then I kept kind of playing with the formula and morphing it and utilizing more vocals and playing around with playing and singing at the same time.

And it became more of a progressive, rock oriented group. And it's really developed. And we're about to release, I think, our 7th studio album this year.

We just released a double live album, and we kept putting out videos and content. And I think that kind of led to me being invited to work with Kansas because they saw the stuff I had done with Stratospheerius, which was definitely influenced by Kansas. So one thing kind of led to another.

Yeah, it's awesome. About what time did you start Stratospheerius? How many years ago was that? Long, long time ago. I don't want to age myself, but I was in college, and I didn't even have a name yet.

I just wanted to have a band. I wanted to do my own thing in addition to. I love being a sideman, too, don't get me wrong.

But I had a vision, a musical vision no one was doing, and I really wanted to make it real. So I was on a gig and playing in an orchestra, and there were some high parts with the first violins, and the concert master goes, wow, that's really in the stratosphere. I should have brought my Stratospheerius, which.

The play on words is strati various. That word just stuck. And I used it as a band name, which might be a silly idea because it's hard to spell, but I kind of got stuck with it.

Yeah, I think it was the early. It was like 2000 or 2001 when I really started using that name for the band, and it has gone, undergone multiple personal changes. Yeah.

Well, that's awesome. It's been a great way for you to put out your own creative ideas. And seven albums.

That's a huge accomplishment. Congratulations on that. Thank you.

A lot of your work seems to traverse both the classical world and the non classical world. So you mentioned that your upbringing and just watching MTV and listening to hip hop, rock, all these different genres influence that. What's that been like, you know, traversing both worlds, because it seems like you're fluent in both.

I think there's just from being on the street in New York and just hustling and being thrown into all kinds of different situations, I've really learned that there's a lot of skills that most conservatories don't teach string players that are very valuable and helpful.

And because I'm also a string contractor, I book a lot of private events, and I still do that even while I'm on tour. I try to get players that can improvise, know how to know what to bring, can play acoustic and electric, can play some jazz, can know how to dance around, entertain a crowd.

There's all these things. So I try to teach that to my students. I'm an adjunct professor at New Jersey City University multi-style strings department chaired by Martha Mook.

And I wrote a book called "Plugging In" that was published in 2012 with Mel Bay, and that kind of addressed some of the skills that I, through experience, realized were really valuable. If you want to be a working musician, not just playing in an orchestra and putting all your eggs in one basket. Yeah.

I'm passionate about teaching. I've been teaching all my life and I continue to do that privately and as a clinician. Yeah, that's amazing.

I mean, sharing music with the next generation of string players, especially not just in the traditional classical world, to me, that's a big passion of mine, too. And I just appreciate your efforts in that. You mentioned that you are a string contractor.

I had no idea. Tell me more about this. And how do you manage that while you're on the road touring with Kansas? Well, this is a funny story.

I fell into kind of the wedding scene when I was still finishing my master's degree through my friend Ted Falcon, another great violin player moved here and got rooted in a few gigs and helped. I started being his sub when I moved to New York. He helped me out and then he moved away, moved to LA and kind of left me with a bunch of his work.

A lot of it included wedding work. And there were dance bands that used electric violin. And at the time, it was very rare to use electric violin in a band or with a DJ.

This was in the late 90s. And as I worked more and more and got more and more calls, it became more popular and more common. And a few years later, I think it was around 2005, there was a company called Hank Lane Music, which is the biggest wedding company in New York in the Tri-state area.

They asked me to put together a string quartet to play rock tunes for a wedding. And I thought to myself, first of all, I don't have a lot of arrangements. So I went and bought a bunch of the Hampton string quartet arrangements and I got the 'A-team'.

I got a great group. I got Dave Eger, cello, Claudia Chopek, Hiroko Taguchi. And we actually rehearsed for this, which is rare.

You don't rehearse a lot for weddings and goes, these are really written, these are cool charts, but why don't we open up this section and open up that section and kind of know, I'm like, wow, that didn't even occur to me.

And you guys can all do that, so let's do it. And then I started cranking out more and more my own arrangements over time because I wasn't crazy about a lot of the published stuff, especially the fact that for me, none of the string quartets I've seen have chord changes.

And as a jazz guy, I love having the chord written above the note. I got to know what harmony I'm in, and it helps me if I want to get off the page and improvise. And I think that's a really crucial skill that everyone should have, as string players lack in great numbers.

So, anyway, what happened was that kind of snowballed, and I kept getting more and more requests to put together string ensembles. At one point, I was subcontracting for 15 different wedding offices, and I'd have multiple jobs going on in one night.

And right now, I have about 300 arrangements that I've written, half of which are available at sheetmusicplus the rest I'm going to proofread and gradually upload.

But I've learned to write really fast, and in my arrangements, I write chord changes, and I have sections written for soloing. And I realized in New York, there's a lot of string players that can do that.

So why can't a string quartet function like a barb band or a wedding band, where you can just call, know, and just jam instead of always relying on set arrangements? So I wanted to kind of change the paradigm a little bit and utilize the skill sets of all these great players that are here.

That's awesome. That's definitely something that can't be done with every string player, but I'm starting to get into that world myself a little bit. I do a lot of electric violin here for weddings.

I'm curious, how do you manage all of that different personnel? Like, do you do a lot of emails, text spreadsheets, or are you using a tool like BookLive to do that?

I have, I think, a core pool of 20 players. And of course that changes because some people move away. I had this great cellist, Brian Wilson, who moved to Vietnam.

His wife's Vietnamese, and I miss him because I would hire him a lot. But new people come into town all the time. New York is a mecca, my friend Dave Wallace always tells me.

Who are the hot players coming up from Berkeley or down from. Yeah, and I snatch them up. But, yeah, I have a core pool, and I just keep track.

I write the details into my calendar. Who's on the job? I don't use BookLive. Maybe I should.

We'll hook you up with a free account after this podcast. Okay. I've managed to keep track of things for the most.

Occasionally I mess up, and I try to be very meticulous. In the email I sent with all the information, I use a Dropbox for all the charts. I make sure people bring their iPads, their music stands.

They got to have a preamp, they got to have the right cables. That's the other thing about string players, a lot of times they're notorious for forgetting gear or not thinking it's important to own a preamp or a wireless. Things like that everybody should own.

It's not an expensive investment. Well, awesome. I can't wait to get all that work off your plate and automate that in BookLive.

Thank you. For sure. Okay, cool.

So let's chat about some of your current projects. I saw on Facebook you had to keep this quiet for a while, that you were one of the violinists in the movie "Maestro". How did that come about? And what was filming like in that situation?

That was an amazing experience. I'm not inflating anything. I was just an extra.

I was a small part in that movie, seen about six and a half minutes in where they're recreating Leonard Bernstein's Carnegie hall debut in 1943.

The camera pans and you can kind of see me way off to the right. I was second chair inside first violins, and I got called by Sandy Park, who is one of the biggest contractors in New York City, does huge jobs, a lot of film work with major artists.

So they were looking for men because it was all white men in orchestras back then, which was really weird being in an orchestra where it's just a bunch of white guys.

I'm just not used to it. Fair enough. Been boring back in the day.

Anyway, so we got fitted for 1940s suits, and it was two days of filming in Carnegie Hall in July of 22.

And the first day we filmed it was an actor playing Artur Ratsinski, the musical director of the New York Philharmonic at that time, who Bernstein was assistant for. But it wasn't him that he stepped in for.

I forget who. It was a guest conductor that got ill. And Bernstein got the call at 09:00 a.m.

That morning to step in. And it was Schumacht's Manfred Symphony. And they reprinted the programs from that night, vintage programs that we got to keep.

And they got extras. They got an audience full of extras dressed in 40s garb. And it was amazing.

It was an amazing two days. And Bradley Cooper had trained because my wife plays violin in the New York Philharmonic, and he had done his research for three years.

He attended a lot of concerts, was hanging out backstage, taking lessons from some of the major conductors like Dudemel, and really researching this role.

You got to give him a lot of credit. And when I watched him work, he was acting, he was speaking in character, giving direction, because he was acting and directing, really multitasking, getting into the zone to act out a scene and then stepping out of it, watching the playback, giving instructions to everybody, and all the time just maintaining total coolness, like never losing his. Wow.

And to do that for 12 hours a day for months on end or however long, because filming is a long process. It just blew my mind. The amount of focus and discipline you have to have, that's amazing.

I always knew he was a talented guy, but to see it up close was pretty remarkable. Yeah. When he was acting, was it like a rehearsal situation or a concert situation or both? What was that like?

First day was the rehearsal. We were enacting a rehearsal. That scene never got used. Second day was the scene they used, which was his debut.

So he would come out, we would play the first few bars, or mime the first few bars. There would be a track, and he would raise his arms and conduct, and they sprayed sweat or water to make it look like he had been sweating. So the scene was in black and white in the end.

So there was a strange mist in Carnegie Hall. I don't know if they did that for a certain effect or because people smoked in the concerts back then. I don't know, but it was weird.

That was the first thing that struck me. I walked in, and it was all misty in the hall, which is maybe something that appears in black and white that has a cool effect. I don't know.

Yeah. Interesting. So it's also interesting that you played along with a track.

Would you say, did the group that was hired, like, all the people in the orchestra, you guys could all play? Obviously, you're all serious players.

Did it sound like a good group when you were doing rehearsals and playing? Well, we weren't rehearsing. I mean, the rehearsal was kind of more conducting, yelling at us and asking us to play a D flat.

For some reason, it was a pretend rehearsal, but everyone there, I don't know everybody there, but the guys I knew are all great players, so they got real players.

It wasn't a bunch of actors who don't know how to hold the instrument. They really took care to make sure they had real players who looked like they were interested know, for pretty heavy freelancers in the New York area.

Yeah. That's so interesting. Film and TV production is always so fascinating, especially how they use real musicians.

Like, do they hire real ones? Do they hire fake ones who don't even know how to hold a bow? And I'm glad they did it right for "Maestro". Like, if there's one movie to do it right for, it's that one. Absolutely.

Because you know a lot of musicians are going to see it. Yeah, for sure. Sweet.

Well, let's switch gears now. And I was wondering if you could tell me a little bit about what it's like to be on tour with Kansas. Everything from the day to day, concerts, gear setup, even just traveling.

What's the whole experience? Sure, sure. So they have a very unique way of touring, which I'm surprised is not more common. They don't tour on a tour bus.

They used to, but they just want it to be comfortable. And we do fly outs. So typically, we'll fly out on Thursday, we'll play Friday, we'll drive to the next town, which within two to four hour radius of the first place, on Saturday, and then we'll fly home on Sunday.

So literally three and a half days a week I'm home with my family. Three and a half days become on tour. That's nice.

Which is great, because I have two kids and my wife has a career. She's got a busy schedule, so it works out. I'm able to be home half the time.

Usually when we fly, they rent us two big suburbans in the band, or sometimes three. And the band travels in those. And one of the things, when I joined the band, I spoke with the engineer, the front of house guy, Chad Singer, who happens to be a viola player who went to Berkeley.

He's been working with them for 23 years. So he really knows how to make strings sound good. And it's so great to have a string player who understands.

Yeah, totally. And everyone in the audience has said that the violin sounds amazing. He just gets such a great sound out of it and knows how to balance it.

So we talked to gear. I told him what I like to use. Gear is such a personalized thing.

I have three different pedal boards. I have my giant 16 pedal board that I use with Stratospheerius, which is really over the top and has a lot of things that I would not use with Kansas. I wanted to go for a more stripped down sound because they don't use a lot of effects on the violin.

And then I have my day to day smaller board with line six HX effects and a few individual pedals. So I decided I would get a dedicated line six HX effects for Kansas. Program the sounds I used, and we tweaked it.

Have a crybaby pedal on there, and then I have an HX stomp because I'm also doubling on guitar. I'm playing guitar on about a third of the set. And then we switched that to a fractal, because they preferred that sound and they knew how to work with fractal effects.

If I'm going over anyone's head, just let me know. You're good. Yeah.

So I have my assistant, Jeremy Vig, who is the tech there, who works with the guitar and the bass and the violin. He's amazing. He can fix anything, you know, I get there.

All my stuff is set up. I have two violins that travel with the band. One is a five string glasser, acoustic electric that I use for dust in the wind.

And the acoustic set, I have an old six string solid body Jensen, which acts as my backup fiddle if I break a string. And then I travel with my seven string viper. Okay, cool.

I just bought a new viper. It's being made. It's almost done.

So my old viper will become the travel viper. Got it. And basically everything is set up and I don't have to lift a finger.

It's amazing. And at the end of the night, Jeremy packs everything up and it goes on a giant truck that takes the gear to the next place, the next town. I also have my Fender Stratocaster.

That a guitar that travels with the band, too. Yeah, us. Amazing.

That sounds like such a fun setup to walk into it. Are you guys using IEMs? Oh, in ears, yes, we are. We're using in ears.

No wedges, except Richard Williams, the guitar player, uses a wedge. He just prefers to have that. He's old school, and I like wedges.

Personally, I'm not a big in ears guy, but when you have a great, dedicated monitor, man, it's a different experience altogether. Totally. So we usually do a routine on a show day.

Our routine is lobby call is usually 3:45, but the band is notoriously punctual. So everything is done at least 15 minutes earlier at the lobby call, and it's by the minute. We have a very early dinner.

We have sound check at five, then we do VIP photo shoot at 6. And then they set up a rehearsal room backstage with small amps and an electronic drum kit, where we just run tunes just to get into the head space of the tunes. The songs are very complicated.

A lot of different time signatures. They're long songs. Sometimes I'm singing, playing guitar and violin on one song, so I have to do a lot of multitasking.

Yeah. By the time the show starts, you had been rehearsing for about 90 minutes. Wow.

So you're really in the zone to play the concert. We usually stop rehearsing half an hour before the concert starts. Show is 2 hours and five minutes long with no intermission.

And for me it's nonstop. There is no quiet time, no downtime. I am on the whole time.

So I have to get into a certain physical and mental state to really be alert and get through that show. Yeah, it's always exhilarating and fun. You have to be in shape to do all of that.

Kansas music is not easy. Some people only know like the hit songs. But the other thing I want to tell you, when I got the call, Tom Brislin, the keyboard player musical director, who I've known for a bunch of years, said, there's nothing written down.

These guys don't read music, so you're going to have to learn it by ear. Wow. And originally it was 25 songs, two and a half hours of stuff.

So I spent a lot of time transcribing. I transcribed everything. I had isolated tracks from David Ragsdale, previous violinist, guitarist, and then memorizing.

So it was like a month of really hardcore transcribing and memorizing of music. And they wanted clips, so they wanted videos to show that I was doing the work and preparing. I'm keeping all that in your head.

Yeah, that's intense. I've got some friends who do Broadway tours, but everything is written out for them. You had to do the extra work of being the transcriber in addition to the musician, which it's very impressive.

When I was younger, I couldn't afford to buy sheet music all the time, so I ended up trying to transcribe my favorite songs. I remember transcribing Aerosmith, Kiss and AC/DC songs because I just like having things written. It helps me kind of lock it in my brain.

Yeah, for sure. It sounds like that's been a useful skill for every stage of your career, including your publishing and composing work, too. I would say absolutely.

The other thing I brought to the table, I wasn't sure because I know that Kansas has a very traditional sound on the violin and I'm into using a lot of different effects with Stratospheerius. I play very differently. But I thought, okay, I'm going to present the seven string viper to them and see if they're into it.

And if not, I'll use a five string. I'll strip it back. So I showed up.

We flew down to Macon, Georgia, where they rehearse, they rent a theater. They all fly down for like a week. They'll do intense rehearsals for a tour and they'll be ready to go.

So I brought the viper. I learned some of the heavy guitar parts on octave down on the low b flat enough. And sometimes I'll jump there and double Richard and really beef up that sound.

And they loved it. They seemed to really like that extra layer because some of the parts previously were played clean on a five string, an octave up. And I thought, this needs to be more grungy.

I'm going to kick the distortion pedal and pretend get into my guitar brain. Oh, it's awesome sections, and it works really well, I think. And I haven't heard them complain.

Super cool. I love to play down there and it's fun. Yeah.

I only have a four string, but my next upgrade will be at least a six string. I'm not sure if I'll go beyond six. I'm not in Kansas.

Go big or go home. Exactly. I like the seven string because I do a lot of solo gigs and I live loop, so I can walk bass lines.

And there's a lot of cool things you could do with low strength. Yeah, that's awesome. Jeng two, you could demonstrate.

Okay. Cellos, you play this. Violas, you play that.

That's amazing. Will you be at ASTA in March? I will not, because Kansas has shows. I have not missed an ASTA since 2013.

And ironically enough, that was also in Louisville. Yeah. Oh, that's crazy.

We'll just miss each other then. I'm sorry. This one looks to be hot.

Everyone I know is going, I'm so bummed. Oh, yeah. And it's a big one because they're doubling with the Suzuki conference at the same time.

But that's okay. You've got bigger fish to fry. I have an excuse, but you do.

It's such a fun hang. And I love the string community. It's my extended family.

Yeah, for sure. The jam sessions are always so much fun. All right, a couple last minute or last questions.

Feel free to take your time on these. Like, we're not running out of time. But I want to ask you a bit about your experience in the business side of music.

Obviously, you've got some experience contracting groups. But I'm curious, how important has the business side of music been to your success? Very important.

I took a music business class in college. I learned a lot about copyrights and contracts and performing rights societies and things like that.

I'm struck by lightning for saying this, but I think a lot of musicians buy into the myth that you really need to practice 8 hours a day. You need to practice two or three, tops.

Quality hours a day, where you're mindful of everything you do. It's not quantity, it's quality. And the rest of the time, work on your business skills, build your social media presence, go out and network, make some calls.

Figure out whatever it is your goal is. That's equally as important as practicing. It's 50-50.

I know a lot of geniuses who are some of the best players I've ever met, who the world will never know because all they do is just sit in their room and play and they don't do the other thing.

And I know some maybe mediocre players that are very successful because they worked their business chops. That's just how it is.

So I realized that when I was younger. Yeah, no, for sure. And that totally resonates with me.

And I've said that probably at least 100 times on this podcast, almost to a t, that there are so many great musicians who will never have a chance to be heard by anybody except for the four walls of their practice room.

Would you say, like, marketing is one of the biggest gaps in a musician's overall experience, getting the word out there? Absolutely. I think when people make an album, they'll make a great album, but then they won't know what to do with it.

Making a good album or CD or whatever you want to call it now is literally half the battle. You have to have a promotional plan, you have to have some kind of budget to hire a publicist or a radio promoter, or for social media promotion, for distribution, all of that. Otherwise, there's almost no point in releasing music if you're not going to do that part of it.

And you might hate that part of it, but it's just unnecessary evil. I prefer to play and write and record and not worry about that stuff, but you have to. The other thing, I'm an old fart.

I'm not a fan of TikTok. I hate TikTok or Instagram, but I do it because you kind of have to. If I was in my 20s, I would work that a lot harder.

Mia Asano, who you might be familiar with. I think I've seen her around. Yeah.

She was a student at Mark Woodrock orchestra camp, where I've been teaching for like 14 years, and she blew up on TikTok. She's a TikTok celebrity. And I audited her class on social media because I wanted to know her work ethic.

What does she do? And she gets up every morning, researches what songs are popular and tracks them, and plans her wardrobe and plans about. She takes it seriously, like a job. And if you're starting out, that's probably a good thing to do.

Take that really seriously. But that's not. Some people think that's everything they need to do.

You got to go out and meet people, because music is so much about relationships. Go to concerts, go to jam sessions, go to ASTA. Just be a presence.

Get to know people. Because that's over. All my year, I've been doing this for 25 years.

It's all about friendships and relationships as much as it is about talent and being a person that people want to hire. People want to be around, that they enjoy being with. That's so important, for sure.

Something I hear a lot, especially when you're talking about social media and how much people take it seriously, like a job. Some musicians I've worked with have said, well, they do that because they're already at the top. What would you say to them about that? Is social media just for those who have already made it? I know I made that same face too.

I've tasted a bit of success. I'm less motivated to do all these little posts now, but I still should. But quite the opposite.

If you're an unknown person and you have talent and you have something to share, you got to really get on that and post aggressively and create your online Persona and mold it.

What I don't like about it personally is I'm not into doing 1 minute clips. I like writing full songs and full compositions and nurturing that and making a fully formed child, so to speak.

The little excerpts just don't excite me as an artist. But that's just what you have to do today. The other thing I do want to express, what I lament is the loss of the album.

Everybody, especially younger generation, my kids, who are 10 and 14, they listen to individual songs or playlists on Spotify. Nobody listens to the full record anymore that an artist makes.

And I've had as a fan so many transcendent experiences because musicians think really deeply about what order the songs are in, what's the concept and story, even how many seconds are between the songs, all of that.

It's like seeing a movie in its entirety versus watching a bunch of random scenes from random films. You don't get the same experience. Totally.

I encourage more, especially younger people, go and listen to the whole album. Let yourself get swept up in it. Yeah, that's great.

I mean, my wife and I were big album people. We still have a record player, which they still make those. They're coming back, actually.

We've printed vinyl too, with Stratospheerius. Oh, that's awesome. Very cool.

All right, well, what last minute pieces of advice would you give to gigging musicians? You already shared so much on social media, but any other pieces of advice that you could share for our audience?

I would say keep an open mind and learn as much as you can and be open to new experiences. When I moved to New York, I had a jazz degree. I knew a little bit about jazz.

I was a big rock guy, and I had classical training. But there was a gig office at Manhattan school, and I would take every opportunity because I was hungry, I needed to work. And I fell into playing in an Italian folk band and then playing in a Turkish folk band.

And with the Italian, I never in my wildest dreams imagine I would be playing, know, not Italian. But through that band, I got to work with Steve Gorn, a legendary bonsuri flute player. I got to work with Jamie Hadad, percussionist for hall sime.

I got to meet all these other legendary guys, and I learned about the world music scene, which I wasn't aware know you could have your primary goal, but also never give short shrift to things that you could learn from and could enrich your life and lead to opportunities you never even imagined would be created for you. Awesome. Well, that's great advice.

Thank you so much for that last question. Where can our listeners find you and your upcoming shows, your upcoming album launch, and any other projects that you want to share?

Well, there's two websites, my personal website,, and that's the hub where you can go to my Bandcamp, go to my Instagram, my Facebook, TikTok, all that stuff.

Then there's the band, which is, Stratos Band. And you can find all our social media links there as well.

My website's more about all my projects, teaching projects, Kansas, Stratospheerius. And then the band website is all about the band.

Fantastic. Awesome. Well, thank you so much. This has been Joe Deninzon on The Gigging Musician Podcast.

I am your host, Jared Judge. Thanks so much for tuning into another episode. This episode was brought to you by BookLive.

Get your free trial at And remember, "Your music will not market itself!".

Bye, everybody!

​Thanks for having me!

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Episode 229 - The Power of Networking and Recommendations in the Music Industry

Episode 228 - Navigating the Gig Economy: Venue Tours, Expos, and the Power of Numbers

Episode 227 - Strategic Moves: Venue Tours, Expos, and Unexpected Gigs

Episode 226 - Maximizing Gigs: New Tools for Tracking Success and Boosting Bookings

Episode 225 - Unlocking Gigs: Venue Tours and Strategic Partnerships

Episode 224 - A Day in the Life: Venue Tours, Unexpected Gigs, and Networking Wins

Episode 223 - Landing Gigs Post-Wedding Expo: A Musician's Success Story

Episode 222 - Navigating the Wedding Expo Scene: A Musician's Journey to Success

Episode 221 - Maximizing Success at Wedding Expos: A Musician's Guide

Episode 220 - Unlocking High-End Gigs: Venue Tours and Virtual Assistant Strategies

Episode 219 - Maximizing Your Music Career: The Power of a Personal Assistant

Episode 218 - Unlocking High-End Gigs: A Musician's Guide to Preferred Vendor Success

Episode 217 - Gigging Musician Podcast: Joe Deninzon Interview


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