By Rick Dandes
WILLIAMSPORT — Jazz aficionados are in for a treat this Sunday afternoon, when two of Lewisburg’s finest musicians will be playing together at the Bullfrog Brewery, in Williamsport, noon to 4 p.m.
Drummer Steve Mitchell, who has played with the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh and several other high profile bands, and guitarist Rolf Sturm have both carved significant careers as studio sidemen, but have only played together in public once before.
“Steve and I have known about each other for the past handful of years,” Sturm said. “He’s come out to hear me play and I’ve been out to hear him play on a number of occasions. We kept meaning to get together, but our schedules always got in the way.”
About a month ago, Sturm, who grew up in Lewisburg but now lives near New York City, was in Lewisburg. “We got together over at Steve’s house to play some guitar-drum duets. We had such a good time we reaffirmed that we should keep trying to get to perform together around the Lewisburg area.”
Sturm was back in Lewisburg at the end of January and the beginning of February for Strike Anywhere’s performance of “Same River” at Bucknell.
“We couldn’t take the whole set back to New York City because we didn’t have enough room in the cars that we brought,” he said. “I was planning on coming back to Lewisburg in February to pick up the rest of the set. And just before I left the New York area, I got a call from Steve. He said he had a gig at the Bull Run Inn on Feb. 18 and the guitarist couldn’t do the gig, would I be around?”
Mitchell and Sturm got to play together at the Bull Run Inn on Feb. 18.
“It was a blast,” Sturm and Mitchell said.
A couple of weeks later, Mitchell called Sturm and said he had another gig, this time a jazz brunch/workshop with Greg Burgess (piano) at the Bullfrog in Williamsport.
“I love coming back to Lewisburg because I have family here,” Sturm said. “So, getting a call from Steve gave me added incentive to make the trip back.”
Mitchell and Sturm will start out by playing some jazz standards and then accompany whoever comes by to sit in.
“A rehearsal won’t be necessary for this performance,” Sturm said. “Besides, there won’t really be time for a rehearsal anyway.”