The Part-Time Gentlemen are three guys that met at an old timey jam a few years back. T.J. Male plays guitar and sings, Nick Sansone plays banjo and sings, and Jonathan Doll plays upright bass and sings as well. They enlisted some help from some top notch musicians from around the area to lend something a little extra to their songs. With the likes of Suzanna Barnes on violin, Andrew McPheters on mandolin, John Victor on harmonica, Casey Campbell on vocals and percussion, and James Funk adding some guitar to “This Train is Bound for Glory”. Ultimately these three guys TJ, Nick, and Jon have put together an album worth of material that made me not want me to stop playing.
I had the privilege of talking with these guys about all things music. Their individual journey through music whether it be in the car with mom and dad listening to the oldies, in the living room as a youngster dancing to Bruce Springsteen, or listening to Queen and Bad Company eventually these guys found their way to become The Part-Time Gentlemen.
TJ’s version of that story I will summarize after awaking one night from a deep sleep, he goes out and sees a couple figures in the distance and an undeniable urge to dance, and was struck by a bright light then, “when my eyes adjusted to the light, I was in the presence of two talented players, a guitar in my hand, a song in my heart, the feeling of two wonderful brethren to make sweet sweet music with, and a desire to hold a door for a lady, and take her child’s candy, all at the same time. And by our powers combined, we were, The Part-Time Gentlemen! At least that’s what I recall.”
Nick and Jon remember it a little differently. Nick and TJ have been friends and guitar mates since high school and college. Nick at the insistence of his wife tried his hand at the banjo. After a back surgery that left him bed ridden for six months he emerged with what you hear today. Jon found his way to these guys through bass luthier extraordinaire Nick Lloyd. Nick told Jon his neighbor was looking for a bass player, and his neighbor was Nick Sansone. They came together, had a jam and now here we are a few years removed from those days, and now they are releasing a long awaited album. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Nick’s Mema who is their number one fan and probably one of their biggest supporters. Mary Sansone, or Mema as everyone calls her, is their occasional back- up singer and “crowd charmer extraordinaire”.
They recorded at Tommy Cappel’s All Nighter Recording Studio and put ten songs together for an album that ebbs and flows much like our very own Ohio River. This is a folk music excursion down gravel roads and through back country and porch pickin’. Four original tunes and six traditional tunes each in their own right done well with respect to the song. The help that was lent by their friends and talented musician’s rounds the all off, and each song. The added extra elements give this already amazing salad just a little more kick.
The recording process of the songs was something extraordinary. It took them roughly 8-12 hours to record, all in one day, and they had just a few things to go back and touch up. Jon said to this, “I have done a lot of studio work and they rarely went as smoothly as this one.” The tracks individually and as a whole certainly do not feel rushed or anything in that vain. They seemed cared for. These guys put and have been putting an incredible amount of work in, and this album seems like just the next step up the ladder.
They are set to release Whiskey On My Breath this weekend at Arnold’s. I will leave it to these guys to finish off this interview. I asked them each, “Why music? With many other jobs or likes or interests you all may have, why this why music?”
Nick: Well I have a full-time job, actually all of us have full-time jobs, but this is a nice release of energy and a productive way to use my time. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Jon: I could not imagine my life without music. I started playing when I was 16 and got serious about it when I was 24. Now, although I’m not doing it semi-professional anymore, I still take it seriously. That being said, it does lead to a lot of sacrifices on my side. For me it’s worth it. It keeps me calm.
TJ: Music is the gateway to the soul. When we started this group it was really to just do a few open mics, then escalated to attempting to get a paying show, and before we knew it, we were asked to share in weddings, and engagements, country clubs, excellent bars, and some marvelous festivals. We have been privileged to meet extraordinary people and players, and once that ride starts going, it’s hard to want to get off of it. I get to play music with two of my best friends, for folks that are kind enough to listen. What could be better?