Good Life

Trombonist Jay Vonada embraces the gig life

Jay Vonada performs solo and with ensembles across the region.
Jay Vonada performs solo and with ensembles across the region. Photo provided

When you see Aaronsburg jazz trombonist Jay Vonada around the region — performing at restaurants, breweries, fairs or festivals — you’re seeing the most enjoyable part of Vonada’s job. Behind every gig are hours of work promoting, traveling and setting up, he said.

The Penns Valley Area High School graduate plays in his quartet, the Jay Vonada Quartet; his jazz trio, Organ Trio East; and a duo of trombone and guitar, or trombone and keyboard called swing-nova. He also plays jazz trombone in the Zeropoint Big Band, performing most recently at The State Theatre’s 10th Anniversary Celebration.

Vonada’s upcoming schedule includes performances at area venues. Recently, he took the time to talk a little about his music and his daily life.

Q: What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

A: Turn on my computer and check for work emails and go from there.

Q: What is a normal work day for you?

A: Looking for gigs, practicing, hiring musicians, promoting a gig, driving to a gig, setting up for a gig, playing a gig and packing up after a gig. Being a self-employed musician involves wearing many different hats: contractor, promoter, secretary, web designer and finally, musician. If I want to play or “work” I must put in a lot of work to find different venues. The day that I just have the gig, there have already been countless hours of work done to make that one-hour gig happen.

Q: What were your childhood ambitions?

A: I think I knew music was going to be in my life but not as a professional.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?

A: Spend time with my wife and family.

Q: Who is your favorite artist of all time and why?

A: Tough question. Right now, (jazz trombonist) Conrad Herwig is a big influence on me because of his artistry, which includes his improvisation and virtuosic playing of the trombone.

Q: If you hadn’t become a musician, what would your profession be and why?

A: Probably something in shipping and receiving. I worked in a factory for 14 years before becoming a full-time musician.

Q: Who or what has been your biggest inspiration?

A: In life, my parents, because they set the example of work ethic and values.

Q: What has been the proudest moment of your career and your life?

A: In life, marrying my beautiful wife — she also has been an inspiration. In my career, I am proud to take the stage with truly amazing musicians and people every time I play. Also, being asked to headline the Mansfield University Jazz Festival in April 2017 will be very exciting.

Q: What would people be surprised to know about you?

A: I am a big “Star Trek: The Next Generation” fan. I grew up with it and watch it to this day.

Q: What are your personal and professional goals for the future?

A: They kind of go hand and hand in that as musicians we are always trying to improve and express what we do no matter what medium of art you practice. As a human being, being a better soul and to look at things through someone else’s viewpoint, lens or perspective.