About The M&J Big Band, Jazz Combo, and Brass Choir

The Big Band

What started as a high school history project in 2010 has evolved into a full 17-piece big band. Originally started by Mike Denchy and Joe Senawaitis as "M&J's Big Band" for a “History Night” project on the history of big band jazz at Pottsville Area High School, the M&J Big Band has been under the leadership of Bandleader John Shoener since 2011, with assistance from Associate Bandleader Jacob Shoener since 2013, and Assistant Bandleader Josh Kovich since 2016.  Our Band Mentor from the beginning has been local jazz legend Larry Koch of Pottsville.

The band features members from Schuylkill, Northumberland, Montgomery, Lancaster, and Adams Counties.

Some of our bigger events that we have played include: The York Big Swing Thing, Les Brown Jazz Festival, Opening act for Dave Stahl Band in Lebanon, Valley View Park, Kennedy Park of Lansford, Bubeck Park in Schuylkill Haven, Shenandoah Valley High School, Heisler's Dairy Bar in the Lewistown Valley near Tamaqua, Pottsville Stage Band concert, The Majestic Theater in Pottsville, and much more!

The band's mission is to keep the big band music alive into the next generation.  The band also aims to play the music of Schuylkill County greats Tommy Dorsey (Shenandoah), Jimmy Dorsey (Shenandoah), and Les Brown (Reinerton).  The band has performed at the Les Brown Jazz Festival at Williams Valley High School in 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021 & 2022.  The Band starting presenting Dorsey Brothers Tributes starting in 2018, and resuming once again in 2021 and 2022.

In 2019 the band performed over 15 concerts throughout Schuylkill County and the surrounding areas.  Despite the COVID19 pandemic, the band continued to produce a virtual concert series beginning in December 2020, and concluding in December 2021.  2020 also marked the 10 year anniversary of the band's founding.  Due to pandemic restrictions, we were unable to produce a live show to celebrate, but the band continued on through 2021 into 2022!

The band also performs at various restaurants and parks throughout Schuylkill and the surrounding counties, as well as numerous elderly communities.  M&J Big Band usually performs from April-August, and around the Christmas Holiday.  The band rehearses every Thursday at the Braun School of Music in Pottsville.

The band, now in its 13th season, is available for a variety of events.  We hope that you can be a part of our next musical season.  Call or send us a message on the contact page for more information!  Support Live Big Band Music, and shoot us a like on Facebook at M&J Big Band.

The first edition of the M&J Big Band, March 2010, at Pottsville History Night.The only intended gig for the band.  After this, the band decided to continue!  The first band fronts in this photo are from Larry Koch's 1957 Pottsville High School Crimsonaires Jazz Band.
The 2018 edition of the M&J Big Band at the Big Swing Thing II.  The band was fortunate to perform for a packed house for the second straight year.  In 2023, the band celebrates 13 seasons of musical excellence, and bringing great jazz to Schuylkill County and the surrounding areas.


Steve Christ- Alto 1/Clarinet

Myron Charowsky- Alto 2

Grace Muench- Alto 2

Luke Darrup- Tenor 1

Mike McGinn- Tenor 2

Daniel Young- Baritone Sax

John Shoener- Trumpet 1, Bandleader, Manager

Jacob Shoener- Trumpet 2, Associate Bandleader & Vocals

Ben Evert- Trumpet 3 & Vocals

Joe Swartz- Trumpet 4 & "Novelty Singer"

Kieffer Quandel- Trumpet 4 & Vocals

David Wilson- Trombone 1

Dave Spotts- Trombone 2

Ethan Spencer- Trombone 3
Britney Bidding- Trombone 4
Chris Circelli- Bass Trombone

Josh Kovich- Bass, Announcer, Vocals, & Assistant Bandleader

Max Bolton- Guitar
Claire Alfree- Piano & Vocals
Jackie Bubnis- Vocals
Jordan Franko- Drums

The Jazz Combo

With its roots stemming back to the Krimson Kats Jazz Improvisation Group from 2011, The M&J Jazz Combo was started in 2013 as an offshoot group of the M&J Big Band, to let members perform jazz music in a smaller setting.  The combo has performed in various restaurants around the Schuylkill County Area, for different Arts Festivals in coordination with the Schuylkill County Council for the Arts at the Yuengling Mansion, and the Majestic Theater in Pottsville.  The combo has also performed yearly for the Schuylkill County Visitors Bureau and various other local civic events.  We are also available for weddings or parties! Contact us today for a quote.

The Brass Choir

The M&J Brass Choir was formed in 2021 as a Brass Quintet to serve the local area.  The Choir has performed for various events around Schuylkill County, including the Explore Schuylkill Christmas Celebrations, as well as various churches.

The Brass Choir includes John Shoener, Jacob Shoener (Trumpets), Josh Kovich (French Horn), Britney Bidding (Trombone), and Chris Circelli (Tuba).

 We are also available for weddings or parties! Contact us today for a quote.