Idaho Mountain Express

Two legends

Off the road and on stage together

Express Staff Writer

Two local favorites Paul Tillotson, above, and Bruce Innes, below, are making concert magic this weekend.
Courtesy photos

    Paul Tillotson, whose zest while tickling the ivories with his improvisational jazz style has been likened to a horny teenager, will join the winsome and talented singer/guitar hero Bruce Innes for a special concert on Friday, June 13.
    The pair call the collaboration a show with “the class of New York City jazz and blues in the heart of Idaho and blues-infused songs and stories from a life on the road.”
    Born in Boise, Tillotson made New York his home from 1989 to 2009. The last of six kids, he started playing the piano at age 10, and his first gig was playing mouth harp with his mother, on guitar, in church.
    He lives in Sun Valley, and this winter marked the 16th year that Tillotson has played with his trio in the Duchin Lounge at the Sun Valley Lodge.
    Innes first started performing in a Calgary, Canada, coffee house called The Pig’s Eye with Joni Mitchell and David Wiffen. He went on to form a number of groups, and even sang with friend John Denver on his “Rocky Mountain High” album.
    He took a break from the road to be at home while his two children were growing up, but still wrote and recorded. He wrote and performed “Musictorials,” a series of humorous/satirical topical songs for Canada radio. He wrote songs for such notable artists as Ethel Ennis, Mickey Gilley and Ray Stevens.
    His show is a blend of original material, exceptional songs and personal anecdotes, some poignant, some peeks into his friendships with the famous.
    Tickets for the one-night show at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. You can get them by emailing as well.

Idaho Mountain Express

A special breed of ‘dawgs’

Paul Tillotson and friends to play Duchin Lounge

Express Staff Writer

From left to right, Paul Tillotson, Randy Tressler, John McKenna and Rob Batchko work in the studio. Not pictured are band members Mike Zisman and Paul Kreibich.
Courtesy photo

    Jazz piano man Paul Tillotson has never had a problem giving jump to a party, even risking trouble with his professors at William Patterson College, where his musical antics between classes frequently got him and his buddies sideways with academia.
    “We used to run off and play the frat parties and do these other gigs so, we were always in the doghouse,” he said recently.
    In that irrepressible fashion that makes him a favorite in any venue, Tillotson improvised and the runaways became known as Jazz Doghouse.
    The pals are back together for a stint at Sun Valley Resort’s Duchin Lounge this week, from tonight, Jan. 29, to Saturday, Feb. 1, from 4:30-8:30 p.m.
    It’s part of a three-installment series of special guests Tillotson will host at the lounge until winter’s end.
    Coming from all points, the friends are bringing two saxophones, a guitar and a mandolin to Tillotson’s piano.
    “And we are going to do it all, no cover,” he said. “And if we fill it up, we will keep doing it.”


Special gathering
Where: Duchin Lounge, Sun Valley Resort.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 29, to Saturday, Feb. 1.

Idaho Mountain Express

Shout from the mountaintops

After year’s hiatus, jazz pianist is back on track

Ever the generous showman, jazz pianist Paul Tillotson returns to the public eye with performances in Boise that include an annual benefit concert for his namesake musical scholarship for Borah High School and to celebrate recovery from cancer at Sacred Heart Church. Courtesy photo

No news was not good news for Paul Tillotson.
    This time last year, Tillotson had mysteriously dropped out of the weekly calendar at Sun Valley Resort, where he was a winter fixture at the Duchin Lounge for the past 14 years.
    The headline in a December 2011 story in the Idaho Mountain Express hailed, “Jazz pianist Paul Tillotson is here for the winter.” The story reviewed his colorful career as an artist around town and in New York, though the Boise-bred music man was more interested in talking about his role as father to Charlotte, then 18 months old, than his mentors and multi-album story.
    Murmurs finally surfaced in the community that so loved him that he was in treatment for cancer. The eternally young pianist remained quiet, fighting for his life.
    Earlier this week, Tillotson resurfaced, with two appearances in Boise, one to “Celebrate Recovery” at the Sacred Heart Church, and the other at the Paul Tillotson Music Scholarship Benefit Concert. This concert raises funds to support a graduating senior heading for college with a $1,000 boost.
    Not eager to stop the music long enough to chat about it, he issued an email statement that read in part, “Paul is returning to play publicly after taking the year off for health-related reasons. In December 2011, Paul was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. After a year of intense treatment, he is happy to report he is now cancer free!”
    Shifting into first person, he added, “I’m looking forward to playing music and having fun again. It’s been an incredibly enlightening journey.”
    Tillotson has played with famed musicians Gene Harris, Lynn Seaton, Vernel Fournier, Mike Merritt and more, and appeared on Letterman and Conan O’Brien’s nighttime talk shows. He’s performed in jazz festivals across the globe.
    In a previous interview he explained, “My mission is to play great improvised music, deeply touching the souls of audiences around the world, spreading the joy that is created while making music that comes from love.”
    Tillotson is due to perform après ski at the legendary Duchin Lounge for three upcoming weeks, Jan. 21-25, Feb. 18-22 and March 18-22, from 4:30-8:30 p.m. There is no cover.
    Now’s the time to make some noise. Start spreading the news.