Joe Deninzon & STRATOSPHEERIUS SPRING 2021
Greetings and salutations, friends! It’s really hard to believe it’s been a year since this whole madness started. The other day, a friend told me that he has anxiety dreams where he left the house for work and he’s NOT wearing a mask! You know we’re in a messed up place where pandemic life is so normalized, that we’re having anxiety dreams about NORMAL times!
The good news is that gigs are getting booked, and people are starting to plan concerts again. Live music is gradually coming back! STAY TUNED…
What were YOU doing one year ago right before the world changed? I’ll tell you what I was doing.
I took my last flights to and from Orlando, FL for the annual ASTA (American String Teachers Association) National Conference. I’ve been involved with this organization for a decade now and have given presentations at the conference every year. Anyway, last year I was there to giver a masterclass and a workshop on “Live Looping and Arranging with your School Orchestra.” but the highlight for me was an unforgettable performance on Thursday Night organized by my good friend Jesus Florido. This was a night dedicated to featuring electric string players. Jesus recruited Al DiMeola’s rhythm section to be the house band, and the concert included him, myself, Martha Mooke, Tracy Silverman, Mark Wood, and we had special guests like cellist Greg Byers, legendary fiddler Mark O’Connor and his wife Maggie, and fiddle badass Vi Wikham jump on stage. It was truly an all-star cast and the vibe was magical, as was the hang with all the presenters and students that weekend. I also got to crash and hang out with the head of my label, Melodic Revolution Records, Nick Katonah and his lovely wife Jennifer.
As soon as I flew back, I did a 4-day regional tour in NY/NJ with Stratospheerius, Potter’s Daughter, and Dark Beauty. The final show we played was at Olive’s in Nyack, NY on Saturday, March 14th, just as it felt like the world was ending and everything was shutting down. Every night as attendance dwindled and attendance was sparse, all the bands took a vote whether to cancel the next concert. Each night, the majority voted to continue and get through the tour before going into quarantine. Talk about raging against the dying of the light! I joked that it felt like we were that string quartet playing on the Titanic as it was sinking. The love and camaraderie between the bands was so beautiful and those who attended the shows were really grateful that we played. Looking back one year later, I have no regrets. Here’s a group pic from our last show on March 14th, 2020.
We are sitting on some very exciting projects right now; a new live album and DVD due out later this year and a new studio album due out next year! We’ve released four singles from the album already, but wait until you hear the epic, gargantuan juggernaut of a song we are putting together as we speak! This is probably the most ambitious song this band has ever written or recorded. Just wait (hee hee hee. Rubs hands together ).
Stratospheerius Releases Cognitive Dissonance Single and Video on Melodic Revolution Records
Stratospheerius is proud to release our new song, “Cognitive Dissonance.” The track features special guest vocalist, Randy McStine. Randy is a rising star in the prog world, having toured with Sound of Contact, Robben Ford, Stu Hamm, Jane Getter, and recently putting out two amazing albums with the great drummer Marco Minneman. Randy is a brilliant multi-instrumentalist, having toured with our band on guitar, bass, and drums! He’s also an incredible singer/songwriter.
Cognitive Dissonance is tells the story of how we are born a blank slate. Over time, our elders teach us who we’re supposed to hate, whether on religious, racial, or politically ideological grounds. We wanted to use green and red claymation characters to represent two opposing sides. In the first verse, they’re kids playing soccer, then the mother shows up and breaks up the play, pointing at the red guy and staying he’s evil and not to be trusted.
Second verse, the characters get older and spew hate on social media on their cell phones. You see shit flying out of the phones and turning into little shit men fighting. The second verse also has imagery of a beating heart representing a ticking time bomb, a baby with innocent eyes, and a brief scene of a mob with torches on the line “let’s start a fire and burn this whole place to the ground.”
I wrote these lyrics a year ago but with recent events on January 6th, they were eerily prophetic.
The big jam at the end has the claymation characters don instruments and do battle in a fiery abyss, finally exploding into the along with the planet they inhabit, melting into the cosmos, eternal prisoners of their own hatred for each other, the memory of the innocent childhood playdate erased.
We interspersed the claymation with performance footage. All the footage was shot in quarantine but we wanted to spice it up with some visual effects to break up the monotony of the typical “quarantine” video.
Thanks to our good friend/drummer extraordinaire, Patrick Carmichael for the claymation.
Recorded by Rave Tesar. Mixed and mastered by Rich Mouser. Artwork by Nick Katona. Video editing by Joe Deninzon.
Hope you enjoy it!
Here are links to stream and download the song:
You can also listen and download directly from
Joe Deninzon Bandcamp
Study with Joe at www.stringmasters.com
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Also, I now have 114 string arrangements on sheet music plus of original material and covers. if you have a string duo, trio, quartet, or string orchestra, check out my selections. Much more to come….
Stay safe, get vaccinated, and I look forward to seeing all of you face to face and trading in the virtual hugs for some real ones.