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The J-Bird Universe


February 2011, Joanne J-Bird Phillips featured in Bass Musician Magazine:

Joanne's upbringing began in the Bronx area of New York in the USA, where she was born into a family of professional drummers and band leaders. Her sense of "natural rhythm" was evident from the beginning, and as a small child her family would often watch this tiny tot dancing and swaying to "Tzena Tzena Tzena", (the flip side of "Good Night Irene" by The Weavers) before she could even walk.

After a few years Joanne's family moved to Nassau County in the suburbs of Long Island during her early childhood, and her exposure to music continued as her father taught her to play the drums at the age of seven, with the first tune being "Come Fly with Me", by Frank Sinatra. Joanne continues to play drums in a local Jazz Standards group to this day, and a photo of her on her Pearl Rhythm Traveler drum kit was even selected for promotion on Pearl's website.

Her early music influences were Swing, Motown, Bossa Nova and good old Rock ‘n' Roll. Her family bought her a full orange sparkle drum kit, which was now the second one in the house, as there was already one for her father and brothers.

At the age of sixteen, Joanne was asked to play drums for a local group of teenage boys who were forming a garage band. It appeared that no one else in the neighbourhood could play "Wipeout" correctly, so the guys would cart Joanne's drums around the block for her so they could rehearse. That young band was called "The Wee Three & She", and they played at a nearby restaurant for a few sweet sixteen parties for family and friends. But the band just eventually faded away as so many young bands do.

In her early years, Joanne was rarely seen without a radio glued to her ear, and has always maintained throughout her life that music is as necessary to her as the air she breathes. "I just can't live without it" she says. She became fascinated with sound reproduction equipment while listening to other musicians speak of their small basement studios. She was working in an office capacity in a consumer electronics repair facility, and decided to take some night courses in electronics to learn more about her new found interest.

During the day, she was able to take advantage of the resources around her and also expand her knowledge in the areas of television and audio equipment. Her employer at the time gave her the opportunity to expand her technical horizons, and as a "novelty" gave Joanne a fully stocked repair bench of her own which was placed in the large display window of the store situated in a major shopping centre. So there she was, sitting in the window for all to see, repairing turntables and cassette decks. Not long after that, she retained a position at Harmon/Kardon, a major consumer audio manufacturer, receiving not one, but four promotions in one year alone, and ending up as the only female "Bench Technician" at the facility.

This was like heaven for Joanne who was now working with a small select group of other like minded young music lovers, each of them with their own custom "tech bench", working with gizmos and gadgets while listening to Rock ‘n' Roll music on headphones all day! After five years, Joanne left H/K to raise a family and moved to Long Beach, NY, just a few blocks from The Atlantic Ocean and an hour from NYC. During her stay there she converted one of the rooms of her house into a professional audio repair shop, running "Phillips Audio Service" from her home. The business became quite a success and even grew to the point where she had to farm work out. As raising the children became more of a priority, it became more difficult to manage everything. The business was unfortunately put to rest.

Fast forwarding to the 1980's...Joanne heard Madonna's "Holiday" on the radio and was immediately drawn in by the bass groove, which rekindled her desire to play an instrument once again. But buying a drum kit and finding a place for it in her home just didn't seem to be practical. Never having lost her passion for the feel of rhythm and groove, she felt compelled to buy herself an inexpensive Bass guitar which she thought would be the next best thing. This starter bass would be replaced some time later by a 1972 Fender Jazz bass, which she always refers to as her "Main Squeeze". Joanne felt that she just had to learn and "feel" that groove, and decided to take some bass lessons

Around that same time she landed a job managing a local TV / Audio repair shop working as a bench tech fixing VCR's and tape decks most of the time while still managing to listen to music as she worked. Many local musicians would often come into the shop for repairs and Joanne soon became friends with many of them, and was invited one day to sit in at two popular, local "open jams", one of them being Blues and the other, Rock ‘n' Roll.

After some years as a "regular" at these local venues becoming known around the local community through her work at the repair shop, and also donating her time to various local school and community events, Joanne honed her skills in "putting people together" or what we now commonly refer to today as "Networking".

During the 90's, Joanne began to host many popular "music jam" parties at her home, and would continue this over the coming years. They became so popular that she had to have the Rock music parties on Saturdays and the Blues on Sundays. Joanne remembers at one particular gig she must have been quite "hot" on bass. While playing very enthusiastically, the guitarist shouted out ...."Go J-Bird Go!", and from that day forward, the nick name J- Bird was born.

That guitar player was none other than Turnpike Joe, band leader of Turnpike Joe & the Traffic Jam, a very popular Long Island band performing currently since its inception in1977. He and his drummer had initially asked Joanne to take on the duties of booking the band, but at some point, the work hours changed for their bass player at the time, and so Joanne was asked to play the first sets of their shows until their regular bass player showed up from work later on. Gradually, Joanne increased her Bass repertoire with the band and the rest is history with her officially on board as Bass Player / Percussionist / Agent / Manager and Promoter role since 1993. J-Bird is not just a nick name for Joanne anymore, as she officially had her name legally changed to Joanne J-Bird Phillips, and went on to incorporate her music booking agency, which was aptly named..... J-Bird Entertainment, Inc.

Continuing to performing classic rock tunes of the 60's and 70's with Turnpike Joe & The Traffic Jam has been Joanne's main love, whether in a small venue or a concert for 5,000 people. Joanne is definitely a "Rock Chick" at heart, and has been described as displaying a natural feel for "in-the-pocket" timing, along with a cool sensuality and feel on the bass. She believes in the "less is more" concept by playing simply, and yet tastefully, and with a signature feel all her own.

Joanne's first love is indeed Rock ‘n' Roll, and she has been spending the past years booking and performing at large outdoor concert venues with Turnpike Joe & The Traffic Jam and in particular is proud to have been selected for multiple performances at The Annual Oyster Festival, the largest outdoor waterfront festival on the East Coast of the USA, performing in front of 10,000 people amongst the 100,000 that are on the grounds on a daily basis.

During 2009, J-Bird began her Calypso duo, "TRADEWINDS", blowing in cool sounds of the Caribbean featuring Nydia "Liberty" Mata & Joanne J-Bird Phillips on Percussion / tracks, and also In the last few years, she decided to pick up the "brushes" and play in a local "Jazz Standards Jam" on drums while still performing regularly with Tpk. Joe & TTJ as well. It felt like "coming home" she says, and this sparked her original love of rhythm and percussion. She also took Conga lessons with her good friend Nydia "Liberty" Mata, percussionist for Laura Nyro, Pete Seeger, Art Blakey, and many others, which increased her percussion skills.

J-Bird has often been sought after to perform percussion parts several times for NYC band Lucille's Mixed Nuts (Fusion), and since April 2009 on Rock Percussion in Retro69 (Woodstock Tribute) and has also performed hand percussion recording sessions for NYC band "The Summarily Dismissed" and various upcoming recording artists in the New York area.

A few years ago, Joanne also invented her persona of "The Trouble Maker With An Egg Shaker!" and has performed on her "Golden Egg" with world class Fusion Guitarist Dean Brown at the Long Beach Jazz Festival, and sits in often with Master Chapman Stick player, Steve Adelson.

These days Joanne's presence in the online social media scene has generated a large fan base and she now has several custom "J-Bird" logos which were designed for the upcoming merchandising of bumper stickers, decals, t-shirts, etc. J-Birds motto of " Keepin' the ‘F' in FUN" has now also becoming increasingly popular and people always shout it out when they see her rockin' on the bass. Joanne is very highly respected in the Long Island, New York music scene in the capacities of Music Business, Stage Manager, and very much so as Music Performer, and is also an active Advocate for the Arts and belongs to several local arts organizations.

She is a professional Stage Manager and has been hired to manage several music events over the years including The Woodstock 40th Anniversary Tribute Concert / Benefit for The Max's Kansas City Project at The Triad Theater, NYC, 2009. She was also House Band Percussionist at that event, performing alongside David Bennett Cohen of Country Joe & the Fish.

J-Bird has mentored local high school students on music and fund raising, and has also been hired several times to perform on bass at Goshen High School in upstate New York, performing with their music staff and several "select" high school music students for large fund raising concerts for their Performing Arts Program as J-Bird Entertainment, Inc. She also helps support their music programs, which includes the donation by J-Bird of six Shure SM-58 microphones.

J-Bird continues to be a very busy, creative, and supportive Lady, being a diversified musician with an inborn passion for "groove and feel", and having a real passion for the bass. She spends her time keepin' the "F in Fun" for herself and everyone else connected to her, and has a deep passion for music and the community in general. I feel her work should be loudly applauded. Whether working for herself, or others, she has no reverse gear.

July 12, 2015 - Joanne J-Bird Phillips is proud to be exclusively represented by Effective Immediately PR New York/Los Angeles (Lifestyles Division)

Press/Media Contact: Senior Publicist Beatrice Bugnosen 212-777-6727 x200

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