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Applause! Page 6

February 16, 2017

The Daily Item/The Danville News

Valley music

Provided photo by Jeff Solomon

Steve Mitchell’s unique style of drumming has inspired many local musicians.


For The Daily Item

SUNBURY — His resume is impressive. Long-time musical director for the Smothers Brothers, in the movie “Tucker” by Francis Ford Coppola and played with The Clash and Talking Heads. For 25 years, he played drums for the Charlie Brown shows, and his drum playing is also what you heard on all of the Garfield shows that appeared on TBS. In all, Steve Mitchell, of Lewisburg, has been performing music for 62 years. And he’s not about to quit now. He and his fellow seasoned studio musicians, Bill Stetz on bass and Rick Marcera on guitar, this month are leading


What: Electric Mash-up Who: led by Steve Mitchell, Bill Stetz and Rick Marcera When: 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday Where: The Hotel Edison, 401 Market St., Sunbury Cost: $5 cover a jam session at The Hotel Edison in Sunbury, called the Electric Mash-up. According to Meghan Beck, co-owner and manager of the hotel, the name combines both the hotel’s history of being the first commercial structure illuminated with electricity by Thomas Edison, and a common belief that

Mitchell may have inspired Jim Henson’s creation of the Muppet Animal, whose fictional band was called “Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.” “With the mixture of The Edison and Steve’s lead role in the Mash-up,” Beck said, “the name and location seemed destined.” Mitchell said he met Henson in the mid-1960s. “He saw me playing at the Cheetah Club in New York City,” he said. “We talked afterwards.” They met again in a Los Angeles recording studio. “He remembered me and we chatted,” Mitchell said, though he humbly admits he can’t prove whether or not the beliefs that are out there of him being the inspiration for the famed Muppet are true.

However, he is clear on what has inspired him to be the well-known musician he is today. “I come from a musical family,” Mitchell said, adding that he grew up listening to a wide variety of styles. “One side was the fiddle, the other was the violin,” he said, then added with a laugh. “They called it different names.” But Mitchell was never interested in music…until he saw jazz artist Gene Krupa perform during a football halftime show. “From then on, that’s what I wanted to do,” he said. As a teenager, Mitchell got to meet Krupa. “He was a real inspiration,” he said, adding that his musical interests were also encouraged when he met Charles Mingus. Mitchell also played jazz music with the Troy High School band in Troy, Pa., and in 1950, the band appeared on the Ted Mack show. He eventually made music his career and spent 30 years in California before returning to Troy to care for his ill mother. After she passed, he lived on a mountain, he said, between Canton, Mansfield and Troy. During that time, he was involved in an accident in which a log rolled on his shoulder and crushed it. He was in a coma for nine weeks. Thankfully he recovered, and after physical therapy, returned to drumming again. Mitchell, Stetz and Marcera led a jam session at the Bull Run Inn in Lewisburg for five years. Mitchell said he has enjoyed the opportunity to lead one again at the beautiful, historic Hotel Edison. Each of the musicians have extensive experience as studio musicians. “We made our living every

day playing with a different artist,” Mitchell said. “We needed to be able to play every style.” They’re not just seasoned musicians, he joked, “We’re overly seasoned.” The audience of the Electric Mash-up event is “going to see every kind of music imaginable,” he said. “There will be jazz, but there will also be blues, Rock ‘n Roll, country western, folk music … all kinds of music, except classical chamber music.” But jazz music remains Mitchell’s first love. “I like doing something different every time,” he explained. “I never play the song the same way twice.” Aside from the creative outlet he finds in music, he said he also loves how his art can inspire other forms of art. For example, he said, “When I’m drumming, I love when people get up and dance.” As an invitational jam, Mitchell said the Electric Mash-up has included some very talented local guest musicians. Beck said the series, which is “a new iteration of the Monday Night Music Mash-up which was hosted at the Bull Run Inn in Lewisburg,” is part of a new Edison Live program that the hotel is launching. “We hope to continue the tradition here at the Edison on Wednesday nights,” she said. “The music travels across a number of genres,” she added. “It is often based in jazz, but the whole event is really about creating a sense of kismet, a unique experience each week. It’s hard to explain because every week it is a little familiar and yet totally unique. “If you miss it,” she added, “you may miss that moment that you’ll remember forever.”

Applause 2/16/17