Spotlighting local musicians and giving them the opportunity to connect directly with their fans.  This monthly interview is coupled with a live performance at Chopper’s Spotlight Performance Series at the MTK Tavern in Mount Kisco on the 4th Thursday night of every month.

Chopper:  How did you start playing?

Geoff Hartwell: My father is an amateur guitarist and would sit down and play for me and my sister every night before we went to bed. He would sing folk songs, and old ballads, and it was a great way to start playing and singing - just by having music be a simple fun thing we did at home.

Chopper:  Who was your first and greatest personal influence on music?

Geoff Hartwell: Definitely my Dad.

Chopper:  Describe your music career and if you do any teaching?

Geoff Hartwell: I grew up in the Westchester, NY area, and played CBGB's and Kenny's Castaways while I was in High School. I went to Hartwick College to study music, where I got my BA. That was a great experience because the school had a lot of school-sanctioned ensembles that I was involved in - classical guitar ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combo, College Choir, Symphonic Wind Ensemble. I also studied Orchestral conducting and ensemble orchestration with Dr. Brian Wilson (not the Beach Boy :). Another huge bonus to going to college in Oneonta is that there are two colleges and TONS of places to play. So in addition to overloading on school ensembles, I could play in a Jazz quartet at a funky vegan joint, and in a Jam Band at another bar, play Metal or Country someplace else, and host an open mic night at the student-run coffee house. That was the basis of how I learned to gig.
During this time I also had guitar students. I started with private students, and learned how to structure classes and seminars. When I got out of school I taught privately and for the Northern Westchester Center for the Arts. This was a big plus when I went to teach for the National Guitar Workshop. The NGW was an amazing organization that put me in contact with a ridiculous pool of great guitarists. That's how I got to know Sonny Landreth and Cindy Cashdollar, for instance. There were always crazy special guests. Steve Vai borrowed my Wah Pedal for a clinic the last time he was there. It cracked me up.
But I continue to teach and LOVE IT. I have a new studio in Pleasantville where I'm teaching private students guitar, bass, drums, keys and vocals. I also coach bands and do workshops, as well as rent rehearsal space and recording time. Please email me at for info.

To read the entire interview please go to:
Also, check out Chopper’s Sunday Nite Jam Sessions at Elements Food & Spirits in White Plains every Sunday and R.A.D.A.R.’s Thursday Night Jam Sessions (1st Thursday at Garfield’s The Pit in Thornwood and 3rd Thursday at MTK Tavern).


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