A couple of 82-year-youngs drive from Navarre to Shalimar every Saturday night to catch the act and to dance—jitterbug, as it happens. A tableful of twentysomethings gives high fives. A violinist comes from Pensacola to jam. A buddy—Demetrius Singleton, another wow—drops by to sing. A posse of local artists (of which I’m one) shows up every week. Couples with babies in baby carriers are regulars. No one wants to miss out on Joe Weiss, a terrific jazz guitarist and singer.
From 6 to 10 on Saturday evenings, Weiss performs his percussive magic, appealing to a wide variety of listeners. Self-taught and improving constantly, Weiss began to play at age 13. At 26, he is becoming a force to be reckoned with. Reaching out to his audience, he asks for requests—what he doesn’t know, he’ll learn by the following week. His repertoire extends from “St. James Infirmary” to the Allman Brothers Band by way of Bobby Darin. His voice is perfect for the material, and Weiss has a gift of relating to those to whom he plays, regardless of age. His sincerity, appreciativeness and sense of humor are keys to establishing this rapport.
He is serious about—and in love with—music, Weiss’s performance reflects this in his obvious development of style and ability, as evinced in the past two months during his stint at the Twisted Grape. Although he plays by ear, reading chords but not notes, he’s learning notation to sight read and pinpoint melodies. Rhythm is of primary importance to him, and his goal is to be the best.
Weiss also writes his own music and has played with Okaloosa Sound and the Downbeat Jazz Orchestra. He’s also involved in an original, as-yet-untitled project with David Goldflies and Gary Allman.