About The M&J Big Band

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 Pottsville, Orwigsburg, Shenandoah, Mount Carmel, Valley View, Hegins and the surrounding areas.

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, Valley View Park, Kennedy Park of Lansford, Bubeck Park in Schuylkill Haven, A.P. Damato Legion Park in Shenandoah, Heisler's Dairy Bar in the Lewistown Valley near Tamaqua, Pottsville Stage Band concert, 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, and 2017.  The Band presented a Dorsey Tribute in Shenandoah in 2018.

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 2018, the band celebrates 9 seasons of musical excellence, and bringing great jazz to Schuylkill County and the surrounding areas.

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 9th 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.

M&J Big Band 2018 Roster

  • Bandleader, Music Director, and Personnel Manager- John P. Shoener
  • Associate Bandleader, Road Manager- Jacob Shoener
  • Assistant Bandleader, Announcer- Josh Kovich

Saxophone Section

  • Alto Saxophone 1- Colin Williams (Pottsville)
  • Alto Saxophone 2- Daniel Young (Orwigsburg)
  • Tenor Saxophone 1- Grace Muench (Pottsville)
  • Tenor Saxophone 2- Mike McGinn (Shenandoah)
  • Baritone Saxophone- Joe Medica (Orwigsburg)

Trumpet Section

  • Trumpet 1- John Shoener (Pottsville)
  • Trumpet 2- Jacob Shoener (Pottsville)
  • Trumpet 3- Ben Evert (Orwigsburg)
  • Trumpet 4- Joe Swartz (New Boston)

Trombone Section

  • Trombone 1- Dan Romberger (Valley View)                                                              
  • Trombone 2- Ed Leibel (Pottsville)
  • Trombone 3- Brittney Bidding (Dalmatia)
  • Bass Trombone- Chris Circelli (Pottsville)

Rhythm Section

  • Piano- Sarah Williams (Pottsville), Tom Honicker (Schoentown)
  • Guitar- Max Bolton (Pottsville)
  • Bass Guitar- Josh Kovich (Pottsville)
  • Drums- Michael Ryan (Pottsville)

Band Management Staff

  • Band Booking Managers- John Shoener, Patty Shoener
  • Sound Technicians- A.J. Avezzano, Joe Swartz
  • Webmaster- Scott Williams
  • Arrangers- John Shoener, Josh Kovich, Jacob Shoener

M&J Big Band Concert Poster History



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.

Members of the group are from Pottsville, Orwigsburg, and the surrounding areas.  They are based out of the Braun School of Music in Pottsville, and are mentored by local jazz legend Larry Koch.  

The combo, now in its 6th season, is available for a variety of events.  We hope that you can be a part of our next musical season.  Call (570) 628-5930, or send us a message on the contact page for more information!  Support Live Jazz, and shoot us a like on Facebook at M&J Big Band.