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Blog - Jason Didner Music

A Very Surprising Collaboration, 38 Years in the Making 

On BandLab, my new friend K'chiro took a very old song of mine in a very new direction! Back in 1986 I composed “Stakeout” on synthesizer and performed it in my high school talent show. Recently I revisited my earlier instrumentals and gave them fresh recordings using the latest technology. I made a version in BandLab and invited other musicians to add to it what they would like. 

K'chiro added guitar, bass and drums to my layers of synth, giving the song a more blues/rock edge. And then he asked me to sing on it. This pushed me into a more flexible way of thinking. Sure it had been an instrumental for 38 years, but why couldn't we play around with giving it lyrics? It could be fun and help build my ability to write songs to prompts. 

So, I give you this new version of “Stakeout” that features my lyrics and vocals, K'chiro's multi-instrumental parts and, of course, my original synth composition in the mix.


▶️ Play the new “Stakeout” collaboration on BandLab

I hope you have as much fun listening as we did re-imagining this song from my teen years. 

Follow me on BandLab and jam along with me there! 

For reference, here's the official video of Stakeout prior to this collaboration. 

📰 Read my story about “Stakeout” in my previous blog post here. 



Made in Japan...and New Jersey - an International Collaboration 

Radio Alert: This collaboration will air tonight Nov. 27 at 7PM Eastern-US on

I'm really excited to share this international collaboration with you! It's “Molasses Blues” with my lead vocal and rhythm guitar, plus the drums, bass and lead guitar of Japan-based blues virtuoso Keiton “K'chiro” Itoh. He's got that Stevie Ray Vaugh-type twang to his guitar sound, and boy does that benefit this song! 


Amy had written Molasses Blues years ago, before a pancreas transplant put her Type 1 diabetes in remission. The lyric captured her predicament of having wildly fluctuating blood sugar and spiraling complications, all while craving sweets. And it was the quintessential blues lyric, boiled down to its essence: 

No sadness fades slower than molasses blues 
No sadness fades slower than molasses blues 
Takes longer than scrapin' tar off the devil's shoes

 I performed it with other musicians at a few open mic nights and then made the official recording and lyric video for my album “Side Effects” earlier this year.  

Bandlab: Evolution of online musical collaboration

Over the past 2 decades I've enjoyed collaborating musically with talented and creative people in other parts of the world. 

But never before has it been quite this fast and fluid to record my parts and let other musicians add theirs. Now I don't even have to upload and download huge files as part of the process. On Sunday night I recorded the rhythm guitar and vocal to “Molasses Blues” and published these parts to Bandlab with an open invite for any musician to add their parts to it. 

K'chiro came along and clicked the “Fork” button, which then gave him a copy of my project. Now he could add his tracks and mix the volume levels. He could also play with the stereo arrangement (bass on the left, rhythm guitar on the right, vocals in the middle, more noticeable through headphones or a car stereo) to his liking. Last night he published his changes. Now another musician can fork either my original or the version where K'chiro added his parts. Rumor has it that another musician is working on an organ part. I'm kind of geeking out over this! 

Bandlab is equal parts collaboration and social network for music. It acknowledges the many different ways people enjoy and interact with music. Most of us listen to music around the house, at work, in the car, as part of TV and movie soundtracks, and even when we're out at the grocery store. On special occasion we get to go to concerts. Many of us sing or play an instrument. Some of us write our own songs. A very small minority have gotten rich and famous doing it. We all enjoy music somewhere along this continuum. Bandlab brings together musicians at any/all levels to participate in the music however we like. It even offers tools to help beginners jump right in and make music, much as Apple GarageBand does. So if you're a fan of an artist and you play a little, that artist may let you fork their track and add your bit to it. 

📝 Sign up with Bandlab and follow my artist page.


About the Guitar I Played on this Collab

Jason Didner with the Ibanez Artist AR30  guitar he got for his Bar Mitzvah.

I played the rhythm guitar part on the guitar my grandparents, aunt and parents surprised me with on my Bar Mitzvah! At that time I wasn't thinking about guitar. I was a keyboardist and I was crazy about synthesizers. But I was overjoyed getting this guitar and I set about learning my way around it. Over time I was drawn back to the keyboard. Until I was almost 16 and saw my first rock concert: Van Halen. Watching Eddie shred so joyously made me want to do that too. Then I couldn't put down the guitar! 

It's a 1983 (I think) Ibanez Artist AR30. Only 1,300 guitars of this model were manufactured. 

As legend has it, my grandparents walked into Sam Ash on 48th street, taking their place in line among the spiked, mohawked punk rockers to ask a sales rep about the best guitar to give their grandson as a special gift. 

When I got deep into Eddie Van Halen's style of playing, I needed a guitar with a whammy bar built-in, something this guitar does not have. So it saw a lot less playing time until recently. Lately I've found a role for it in my recording efforts. It has a great feel and tone when I don't need to dive-bomb a whammy bar! 

This guitar does have a bit of “character” though. When I was 16 I bumped into a desk with it and cracked the paint and wood around the volume and tone knobs. I also lost a tone knob in the process and replaced it with a generic knob back then. I've ordered a matching knob over eBay. I'll keep you updated on this…

I hope you enjoyed the collab and found the backstory interesting. I'd love to see your comment with your stories about international friendships or collaboration made possible by technology. Or how you may use tools, skills or items from your childhood that hold special meaning. 

It's always great to get your comments. It makes my day! 

Musically yours, 

Jason Didner
Jersey Rock with Jersey Humor… and Heart

Holiday Sale in the Jason Didner Store!  

Musician Jason Didner holding a stainless steel water bottle bearing the album artwork for Offering products and services that reflect my art is a way to deepen the relationship I have with my audience. If you admire my music and want to learn an instrument from me, it's a great way to connect, build a lifelong skill and more deeply understand what it is I create. When you order a coffee mug or water bottle bearing the album cover and it comes with a free download of the album's tracks, you get to experience the album differently than you might through a streaming service alone. The album artwork becomes part of your daily living and a reminder of how you feel when you listen to the music. 

This holiday season I'm happy to offer you some unique gift options for your friends, loved ones or yourself at a very good deal! 

Every product or service in my store is on sale through the end of the year: 

  • Piano or guitar lessons (via Zoom) now at $35 per half hour (down from $40)
  • Handwritten lyric sheets, written to order at $40 (down from $45) *
  • Autographed CD's - shipping now included along with digital downloads - all for $10 each * 
  • Album cover coffee mugs (with album digital downloads) for $12 each (down from $14)  * 
  • Album cover stainless steel water bottle (with album digital downloads) for $25 each (down from $30) * 
  • T-shirts (come with digital downloads) for $12.00 each (down from $15).


* Minimum price with option to support my music at whatever price level you're comfortable with. 

These reduced prices are only in effect through December 31, so get your best deals now! 

🛒 Check out the Jason Didner Store here. 

📧 Sign up on my mailing list to know about new shows, music, products & services.


Stakeout - New Recording of a Synth Instrumental I Wrote in the 80s 

Here's a real throwback to the 80s - because that's when I wrote this! 

Before I played guitar, I played synthesizer. When I was 15 I composed this instrumental “Stakeout” inspired by the Beverly Hills Cop and Miami Vice soundtracks. This new recording and video are a tribute to those strong influences on my early music-making. I give you “Stakeout.” 

I performed this song in my high school's1986 talent show and won the instrumental music category. With the prize, a gift certificate to a local record store, I bought Van Halen's new album “5150” featuring newly added singer Sammy Hagar. I loved the synthesizer songs and wanted to go to their show when they came to town that summer. This would be my first rock concert. I left that show a fan of Eddie's guitar wizardry as well as his synth hooks. That was when I became determined to learn guitar. 

Talent Show Night '86

I had composed Stakeout to perform at my high school talent show. I had a Casio CZ-101 synth, plus my more basic Casio keyboard so I could combine the tones created by both. I had a Casio sequencer connected to the synth so I could compose a drum beat and bassline that would play through the synth while I played the melody. 

At the talent show rehearsal the MC asked me about the sequencer, a big square box. I said, “Oh, that? That's my beat box.” From that candid response I got my nickname, Jason “The Beat Box” Didner, which I think lasted the rest of sophomore year! 

My stagewear reflected that strong Miami Vice influence. I wore the white jacket and pants with Docksiders shoes and no socks - just like Don Johnson. The only thing missing was the 5:00 shadow! 

When the curtain opened for me to begin playing “Stakeout,” there was no sound! Curtain closed. Still no sound. Curtain opened again. Still no sound. Crowd is beginning to murmur. They had already made a classical guitarist walk off stage mid-piece by talking over his performance. Heart pounding! One more check of the keyboard. PHEW!! Finally a synth tone coming through the speakers. 

Curtain opened. I played a mysterious-sounding melodic intro. Crowd got really quiet. Then I pressed the beat box button. As the beat and bass kicked in, the crowd EXPLODED! They clapped along on the 2's and 4's. I had them with me through the performance. I was floating on air for days after that! 

After my performance I joined my parents and brother in the balcony. When it was time to announce category winners, Lance, the MC announced that the instrumental/miscellaneous category went to “The Beat Box.” My dad said, “Jason should have won!” My mom answered, “Jason IS The Beat Box!” 

Since the prize led me to buy a Van Halen album, you can say “The rest is history!”  

Your Turn

What are some of the early influences on your creativity? Have they remained constant influences? Have you returned to them from time to time? How did they point you to your next influences? Comment below, and let's have a conversation! 

Jason Didner recording Stakeout on synthesizer

Geeking Out over Taylor Swift's Eras Tour Movie 

Wow! Just…Wow! 

Taylor Swift - the Eras Tour official poster imageSo, last weekend Amy and I took our daughter and a friend to Taylor Swift's new concert film “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour.” The show was in its second week, so tickets were attainable (in the front 2 rows). But the energy of the audience had a strong opening night/in-person at the stadium vibe. 

Girls were singing and dancing in the aisle together. My daughter said she nearly lost her voice singing at the top of her lungs with her friend. Clearly, Taylor keeps tapping into something big, now appealing to a second generation of superfans, with no sign of letting up.

A Method to the Moments

As a fellow musician who loves to perform live, I recognize that Taylor did not accidentally stumble into captivating and engaging and audience. In fact, I've benefitted from a book by the guy who produced Taylor's early concerts - Tom Jackson. In his book “Live Music Method” Tom compellingly argues for creating moments over the course of a show - not just playing songs. He lays out the case that if your songs all look alike, they will all sound alike to an audience - even in different keys, different tempos, different moods, with different themes, etc.  

Taylor certainly established distinct moments - lots of them! Sure, it helps that she had state-of-the-art lighting, set design and visuals, but even if you took that away, the artist made the moments. She acted out “Tolerate It” in heartbreaking fashion, ran the show like a boss in “The Man” and broke it down to just her voice, her piano and the stadium crowd on several occasions between the big pop song and dance moments. 

Of course, Taylor has long since overcome a key challenge Tom highlighted in his book. Taylor's audience (both the stadium crowd onscreen and the movie theater crowd) is absolutely married to her - they know every lyric to her 17 years' worth songs. Tom's book is for the unknown artist who is “dating” their audience - maybe trying to break through to a small crowd at a coffeehouse or opening for a more established act - an artist still trying to make those first impressions. 

This is the space I occupy. My application of Tom's method looks more like:

  • intentionally ordering my set list to create different moments (an introductory moment, a musical moment, a “different” moment, a “big fun” moment, a touching moment, a “raise-the-roof” moment) in an order that gives the audience a complete experience. 
  • getting out from behind the mic stand when not singing (in some instances, not all), 
  • introducing some of my songs while playing my guitar underneath my banter, 
  • working out transitions between songs as a key part of rehearsal, whether solo or with a band, 
  • using a looper pedal to keep an accompaniment going while I get away from the mic and play a solo, 
  • altering the lengths and arrangements of songs to prioritize connection with audience over reproducing my records, 
  • expressly giving my audience permission early in my show to enjoy the show in their own way, 
  • balancing eye contact with sections of the audience, 
  • interacting with the band when I have one, and much more. 

The Eddie Van Halen Connection

Taylor Swift guitarist Paul Sidoti playing his EVH Guitars replica of Eddie Van Halen's iconic Frankenstein Guitar while Taylor Swift rocks a Strat. If you know my story, you know that Eddie Van Halen is the reason I play guitar. So you can imagine how I geeked out at the maybe 2-second sighting of Eddie's iconic red guitar with the crazy white and black stripes - you know, from the “Jump” video! Taylor's longtime guitarist Paul Sidoti rocked his EVH Gear replica of Eddie's axe - the Frankenstein. This brief moment filled me with unexplainable levels of joy!  I later went down this rabbit hole and found that Paul endorses EVH Gear guitars and amps. 

This is not the only connection between Taylor Swift and Eddie Van Halen. Taylor is said to have had the “Eddie Van Halen effect” on the next generation of pre-teen and teenaged (mostly) girls buying guitars and learning to play, just as Eddie had on (mostly) boys of my generation. Guitar World ran this article about the phenomenon back in 2016

This concert film experience was unlike any movie theater outing I'd ever experienced. It reminded me of when I was a teenager captured by a concert video. It was 1986 and I watched “Van Halen Live Without a Net” repeatedly in the basement with guitar in hand, studying Eddie's wizardry and trying so intently to come away with even a fraction of it. And yes, Eddie was playing a replica of his own legendary striped guitar! 

My Key Takeaways

My overall feeling with the Taylor Swift concert film is delight at having seen my daughter have such a blast with her friend, and to have been in a setting where such sheer joy filled the space. 

Secondary to that, just as when I was a teenager learning guitar, hoping to harness a fraction of Eddie's magic, I found myself again studying Taylor's show for ways I can bring a fraction of that unbridled joy to my audiences. 

Watching Taylor apply Tom Jackson's onstage success principles gave me things to consider to enhance my live show, even if I have nowhere near Taylor's budget, cast and crew: 

  • Lavish lots of gratitude on the audience
  • Really, really, really take in the applause and reflect it back - don't rush past it! 
  • Tell a relatable story at a key moment in the show - just not before every song
  • When you give an audience member a special honor, that audience member becomes a stand-in for the whole audience - like when Taylor gave a girl her hat. 

Did you go to any in-person Eras Tour concerts? See the film? What were your takeaways? Discuss in the comments below. 

I Wish I Could Be Two Places at Once! 😎😎 

What would your superpower be if you could pick one? Super strength? Super speed? I'd like to be two places at once - so I could work and play at the same time! So I could live up to all my commitments and still have all the time I need to treat myself to what I love to do. 

So, I present to you the world premiere of my lyric video “Two Places at Once!” 

This video completes the playlist of my album “Side Effects” on YouTube - a mix of live action videos and lyric videos. 

💿 Get my album “Side Effects” as an autographed CD or digital download.

Introducing Synth City - a Real Throwback Instrumental 

…and now for something completely different - a return to my musical roots as a synthesizer enthusiast! 

I give you “Synth City!” 🎹🏙

This is an instrumental composed entirely with synthesizer patches I designed using Logic Pro X Retro Synth, analog setting (except the drums, designed with Drum Kit Designer in same app). This track has an early 80s feel. 

Around this time, when I was 12 my friend Brant showed me his Arp Omni analog synthesizer and I was hooked. I got a little Casio keyboard and later a Casio CZ-101 digital synthesizer. 

My influences for synth music with big hooks include Harold Faltermeyer (Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack), Phil Collins, Eddie Van Halen (for his synth composition on “Jump”, “I'll Wait” and later “Dreams”) and Jan Hammer (Miami Vice soundtrack). 

This brand new composition felt like a return to my roots. Look for a new series of instrumental compositions by me - in various genres, in between the songs with vocals you've come to expect. 

Video produced using Microsoft Clipchamp

Banding Together: A Webathon and Compilation Album for Spondylitis 

Banding Together 2023 Compilation Album for Spondylitis Association of AmericaThis weekend New Jersey-based Internet radio station hosts a webathon of musical performances by artists with New Jersey ties. I'm proud to say I'm part of this lineup. 

The webathon benefits the Spondylitis Association of America, an organization to help improve the lives of people coping with spondylitis. This medical condition causes persistent back pain and interferes with mobility, often from young adulthood on. 

All who donate $10 or more during (or even before, hint…hint…) this webathon will get full access to a compilation album by these artists - all new songs or new versions of existing original songs. 

My contribution to the “Banding Together 2023” compilation album is my piano version of my new song “Better Self.” This version can only be heard on this compilation at this time. 

Tonight, Wed 10.11.23, will air the compilation in its entirety, starting at 7PM Eastern-US.

Starting Friday 10.13.23 at 11:15 AM Eastern-US, the webathon kicks off with a performance by Tony Tedesco. The webathon continues on Saturday and Sunday, running from 11:15 AM to 9:00 PM each day. 

My set airs Sunday 10.15.23 at 4:30 PM Eastern-US. 

Read more

Parents Rocking for Affordable NJ Housing 

Yesterday I had the great honor to return to Parents Who Rock's annual backyard benefit concert. This year the fundraising and promotion was for HomeCorp, an organization that advocates for affordable housing in my hometown of Montclair, New Jersey. 

The event was originally scheduled for Saturday, October 7, a date that posed a scheduling conflict for me. But weather intervened in those original plans. The event would be moved to the next day, making it possible for me to get involved. Fortunately, Lightning Leah was already booked to perform with her main band Innes and the Brushes and could stick around to jump behind the drum kit for my set. 

Amazing Amelia had a prior commitment for yesterday, so I asked the event's longtime sound engineer Excellent Ed Carine if he'd like to sit in on bass. So we forged ahead with an altered lineup of Jason Didner and the Drive. Here's our cover of Bruce Springsteen's “Dancing in the Dark.” 

🏠 Learn more about HomeCorp and its work on local affordable housing here. Donations are gladly accepted. 

Jason Didner and the drive: Jason Didner on guitar and Leah Fox on drums

I also had the honor of sharing the stage with Leslie Masuzzo for her set yesterday. Leslie lives across the street from me and sings with a golden voice. 

Leslie Masuzzo with Jason Didner accompanying on guitar at Parents Who Rock Backyard Benefit Concert 2023 in Montclair, NJ

I even got to close out the show with Parents Who Rock founder Alma Schneider, who provided me with a chord chart to 12,000 Lines by Big Thief, for me to play on guitar. I hadn't heard this song prior to covering it, but I sure have a special bond with the tune now. 

Were you there? Share your story in the comments section below. 

Photos captured by Alma Schneider

Video captured by Martin Fox

Dedicated to Entertainment Unions: "Exposure" Lyric Video 

We artists are accustomed to getting offers for unpaid gigs because they'd be “good exposure.” So I wrote this tongue-in-cheek song as a response to these insulting offers. To be clear, I don't oppose playing for free when it's a benefit concert or other charitable event. I just don't like working for free while making someone else a profit.  

And the lyric video is out just as the Writers' Guild of America (WGA) has settled their strike with the Hollywood studios on decent, livable terms, which is all they wanted. As I write this, the Screen Actors' Guild (SAG-AFTRA) remains on strike, also trying to make their profession one that could support a family. This is only fair, given the record profits the studios have been raking in. 

Of course, I'm also rooting for the United Auto Workers to get more favorable terms after they gave up so much in the financial crisis of 2008 to keep the industry afloat. Now the automakers turn record profits; it's only fair to restore a dignified compensation to the workers who built the profitable products. And of course the healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente. If we're going to call them heroes, we need to not just praise them, but pay them! 

Do you have exposure stories? Share them in the comments below.