Piano Men

Jim Witter comes to Rim Country

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The Tonto Community Concert Association will host Jim Witter and his show, “The Piano Men” this month as part of its 2010-2011 season.

“The association brings world-class performers from around the globe to Payson,” said TCCA president Marilyn Wolfe.

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Courtesy photo

Jim Witter will present “The Piano Men” at 7 p.m., Monday, March 21 at the Payson High School auditorium.

“We also work to bring in artists who are not just exceptional musicians, but those who give the audience a complete musical experience. Many of the performers also enjoy meeting with attendees after the show, answering questions and signing autographs.”

Jim Witter’s “The Piano Men” features the music of Billy Joel and Elton John. The concert is at 7 p.m., Monday, March 21. Single tickets, if available are $30 each and will be available at the door, which opens 30 minutes prior to the concert.

The Tonto Community Concert Association is a nonprofit organization that brings high quality concerts to Rim Country at an affordable price. The all-volunteer board also supports other performing arts activities in the region. The concerts feature artists of national and international reputation and are held at the Payson High School auditorium.

For subscriptions or other information, call (928) 478-4363 or go online to www.tccarim.org.

Witter has been entertaining for more than 20 years. Whether playing country music, contemporary Christian, or the music of Billy Joel and Elton John, Witter’s versatility as an artist has allowed him the opportunity to reach out and share his music and his infectious personality with audiences of all ages across Canada and the United States.

His unique approach and comfortable rapport makes each member of his audience feel as though they are a part of a private concert in the comfort of their own living room.

Supported by bass, guitar, keyboards and drums, you’ll see and hear the soundtrack of your life during this multi-media “rockumentary.”

His music and songwriting has earned him many awards and nominations from the Canadian Country Music Association, the Juno Awards and others.

Witter started on the road to a music career at a very early age. At 4 years of age he began performing in the comfort of his own living room. His mother would play piano, and Witter would belt out the hits — everything from the Beatles to Broadway musicals. All through his school years, Witter knew that he was destined to have a career in the music business.

“I never really thought of doing anything else, and neither did my parents because they always encouraged me to follow my dream,” he said.

And follow it he did. He paid his dues, playing in the clubs and bars around Southern Ontario for years. He would write songs and record demos during the day, and play in the clubs at night to pay the bills.

Witter met his wife Rebecca in 1985. Together, they worked tirelessly to promote his talent and music in hopes that one day their efforts would be recognized. Finally in 1990, one of Witter’s demos came to the attention of a Sony Music Canada executive, which really got his recording career rolling. A record deal with a smaller independent label in Canada, soon gave way to a multi-record deal with Curb Records of Nashville, home of Tim McGraw, Leanne Rimes and Wynonna Judd.

From his first self-titled record, to “All My Life” and “Forgiveness,” Jim has had 10 top 10 radio hits in Canada, seven hit videos on CMT, and impressive chart action in the U.S. on Billboard and R&R.

“Songwriting has always been a real love of mine. I feel very fortunate to have been able to work with so many incredible songwriters over the past years, like Steve Wariner for instance. Not only have the collaborations produced songs that I am very proud of, but I have gained an invaluable education and created lifelong friendships along the way,” Witter said.

A few years ago, he came up with the concept for the show “The Piano Men” — a musical journey through the ’70s featuring the songs of Billy Joel and Elton John.

“I was always a big fan of acoustic music-especially the folk of the ’70s: James Taylor, Harry Chapin, but my real mentors were Billy Joel and Elton John,” he said.

This multi-media rock musical has turned out to be a hit, receiving rave reviews from music critics all across North America. There are even plans to take the show overseas to London and Japan in the near future.

Witter still lives in Southern Ontario with his wife, Rebecca, and their four children, James, Roslyn, Ryan and Luke. A devoted family man, he is also very active in his community, supporting numerous charities and organizations, especially those that benefit children and their families.

“All I’ve ever wanted from this business is to be able to support my family and to make people feel a little better when they hear my music. To help them forget about their troubles for a while and enjoy the moment.

“If I can continue doing this five, 10, 15 years down the road, I’ll be perfectly happy,” he said.

Remaining programs for TCCA’s 2010-2011 season are:

Paul McDermand, percussionist – 7 p.m., Friday, April 15

Paul McDermand began his musical career as a freelance percussionist in the Chicago area. At the age of 19, he assumed the percussion duties in “The Music Man” playing in a downtown Chicago theater, starring David Copperfield.

In 1981, Paul moved to the Phoenix area, lending his artistry to film scores, commercial jingles, symphonic productions and stage shows of every description. In 1993 he received an invitation from New York to join a revival tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ, Superstar.”

Upon his return to Scottsdale, Paul began to develop an assortment of instrumental arrangements built around the steel drums and marimba.

For 19 continuous years he has proudly performed at the elegant Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa.

Dallas Brass – 7 p.m., Friday, May 13

Since its founding in 1983 by Michael Levine, the Dallas Brass has become one of America’s foremost musical ensembles. The group has established a unique blend of traditional brass instruments with a full complement of drums and percussion, which creates a performing entity of extraordinary range and musical challenges. The Dallas Brass’ repertoire includes classical masterpieces, dixieland, swing, Broadway, Hollywood and patriotic music. According to Mr. Levine, “A Dallas Brass concert is intended for the entire family. Our ideal audience has a range in ages from 5 to 95. Our goal is to entertain and enrich by playing great music, while showing our audience how much we enjoy what we do.”

The TCCA has received support from the Western States Arts Federation and the National Endowment for the Arts for the Dallas Brass program, which concludes the 2010-2011 season.

Some information on the 2011-2012 season will be offered in the lobby of the PHS auditorium the night of the concert, however, brochures and subscriptions will not be available until April.

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