Greater Morristown Yule sights and sounds: Sax in the stacks, Trischka treats at The Minstrel

Phoebe Hunt and Tony Trischka at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Phoebe Hunt and Tony Trischka at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Sax in the stacks?  Banjo Claus?

Welcome to another weekend of eclectic holiday music in Greater Morristown.

 

SAX IN THE STACKS: James Aslanian and Deanna Loertscher of the Metropolitan Saxophone Quartet perform at the Morristown & Township Library, Dec. 7, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
SAX IN THE STACKS: James Aslanian and Deanna Loertscher of the Metropolitan Saxophone Quartet perform at the Morristown & Township Library, Dec. 7, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

The Metropolitan Saxophone Quartet got things off to a jazzy start on Friday at the Morristown & Township Library.

On Saturday, we caught banjo legend  Tony Trischka (yes, Virginia, there is a Banjo Claus) and his foot-stomping roots band at The Minstrel in Morris Township.

The sax foursome — Morristown resident Erik Donough, James Aslanian, Deanna Loertscher and pinch-hitter Ellis Jasenovic –actually was a quintet, if you count drummer Matt Olsson.

Video: A Charlie Brown Christmas medley from the Metropolitan Saxophone Quartet:

The Metropolitan Saxophone Quartet at the Morristown & Township Library. Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin; click/ hover on image for captions:

SAX IN THE STACKS: James Aslanian and Deanna Loertscher of the Metropolitan Saxophone Quartet perform at the Morristown & Township Library, Dec. 7, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The Metropolitan Saxophone Quartet at the Morristown & Township Library, Dec. 7, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Erik Donough, left, and Ellis Jasenovic of the Metropolitan Saxophone Quartet at the Morristown & Township Library, Dec. 7, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The Metropolitan Saxophone Quartet at the Morristown & Township Library, Dec. 7, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Erik Donough, left, and Ellis Jasenovic of the Metropolitan Saxophone Quartet at the Morristown & Township Library, Dec. 7, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
James Aslanian and Deanna Loertscher of the Metropolitan Saxophone Quartet at the Morristown & Township Library, Dec. 7, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Most of these folks also teach, or have taught, in high schools across the metro area. Let’s hope their students attend some of the ensemble’s gigs, for a complete education.

Friday’s set list included everything from George Frideric Handel to Lennon & McCartney (as we previously hinted) to Gene Autry (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer).

Stay tuned for more video dollops of these tasty servings.

Video: When the Metro Sax Quartet is 64:

Alas, Trischka was not in a video mood on Saturday. That’s a shame, because he and his Christmas tour mates were loads of fun to watch.

They shared some old-timey holiday tunes from Trischka’s 2014 album Of a Winter’s Night, spiced with surprises such as The Pretenders’ 2000 Miles; Christmas at Paisley Park, a Prince tribute by Trischka’s son and drummer Sean Trischka; and a jaunty update of T’was the Night Before Christmas by singer and fiddler Phoebe Hunt.

Along with wonderfully bad holiday sweaters, the show included nods to Baudelaire and Emily Dickinson, some nifty a cappella work, clog dancing by Appalachian balladeer Elizabeth LaPrelle, solid standup bass by Larry Cook, and introductions to the jaw harp and the Kenner Banjo-Matic by shape-note singer Tim Eriksen

Banjo wizard Tony Trischka at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
LOVE THAT SWEATER! Banjo wizard Tony Trischka at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

At the center of it all, of course, was Tony Trischka, the Grammy-nominated banjo king who co-produced Give Me the Banjo for PBS. He also produced Steve Martin’s Rare Bird Alert album, which features performances by Paul McCartney, the Dixie Chicks and the Steep Canyon Rangers.

Trischka’s lightning fingers and homespun evangelism make a compelling case for an instrument that doesn’t get much respect.

C’mon, Tony–don’t be shy. Let us show a little of your magic!

Tony Trischka holiday show at The Minstrel. Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin; click/ hover on image for captions:

Phoebe Hunt and Tony Trischka at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Banjo wizard Tony Trischka at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Tim Eriksen solos on the Kenner Banjo-Matic as Elizabeth LaPrelle displays musical punch-card, at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Elizabeth LaPrelle and Tim Eriksen perform with Tony Trischka at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Sean Trischka recites a Baudelaire holiday dirge at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Sean Trischka and Larry Cook of Tony Trischka band take five onstage at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
FACING THE MUSIC: Tony Trischka and his band lay down their musical weapons at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Elizabeth LaPrelle of the Tony Trischka band sings at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Phoebe Hunt at Tony Trischka show at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Phoebe Hunt and Tony Trischka at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Tony Trischka, Sean Trischka and Larry Cook take a breather at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Tony Trischka's holiday shoes, at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
NO, HE'S NOT FLOSSING. Tim Eriksen plays jaw harp at Tony Trischka show, at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Elizabeth LaPrelle of the Tony Trischka band at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Tony Trischka at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Tim Eriksen shows off his Kenner Banjo-Matic at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Banjo legend Tony Trischka, left, gives lesson to Tim Eriksen shows on the Kenner Banjo-Matic at The Minstrel, Dec. 8, 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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The Minstrel hosts its monthly open stage this Friday. Dec. 14, 2018, at 7:30 pm in the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship in Morris Township.

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