The B-3 master hits Woodlands Tavern in Columbus Ohio on June 4 2021. Jack O’Handley of the band Rubix Wheel provides us this review.

My sister’s family was in town, so I told my buddy I couldn’t make it to Tony Monaco that night.  We were going to meet up for a beer and listen to some jazz.  I walked 20 min on the treadmill, ate dinner, and went downstairs to my man cave.  As I contemplated a night without live music, I slowly changed my mind, got dressed, and got into my beat-up Toyota to head into the city of Columbus.  The weather was perfect, the Covid restrictions were lifted, and I knew it was time to take a chance.

Tony is a Columbus native who grew up here and has toured the whole world.  He is a B-3 Organ player who plays the organ with his hands, and the bass with his feet.  I hadn’t seen him in a long time, and we had both gotten a little older.  He was accompanied by a Jazz guitarist and a jazz drummer.  It seems like every time I see him, he has new players, but then again, I hadn’t seen this amazing man in a long time.

The first set included some standards (Take Five, etc.), as well as some Instrumentals including  Stevie Wonder (Isn’t she Lovely, Sir Duke, etc.).  The crowd was dancing, and it seemed like an all ages fan base.  I was dancing too, in my own little world, since my buddy ended up not coming (my bad lol).  Tony would say, “Everybody say yeah,” and the crowd would respond, “Yeah!”

After the first set I sat on the other side and made some conversation with the folks over there.  I had a drink and went back to see the band getting ready for the second set.  The room was still empty, so I went up and said Hi to Tony.  I told him my name, and said I really enjoyed the Stevie Wonder selections.  He said, “Bless You” and I went back to my dancing area.  I hung out for a while and felt the good energy of live music once again.  Dancing and talking to friends I hadn’t seen in a long time felt like a luxury. 

Woodlands is such a great place to see a show.  The atmosphere is new at every show, and you never know who you’re going to meet.  The crowd is always friendly, and the staff is very accommodating.  They even serve good food there, as well as Bell’s Two Hearted on Tap! 

The sound system is super Hi Fi, and the lights are great as well. 

People of all walks feel welcome at Woodlands, and no one is disrespectful.  I guess its kind of an unspoken rule there, just no bad attitudes and no negativity.  Let the people enjoy themselves.   Honestly, with how the year 2020 was for the world, I hope other states and countries get to enjoy lifted restrictions like Ohio did this week. 

Live music is crucial for people to stay happy.   During the Pandemic I spoke a lot about Save Our Stages, a group that kept a lot of venues afloat during the Coronavirus Pandemic.  If you have time, please check out the upcoming show calendar at Woodlands Tavern.  As a touring musician, I feel the need to alert you that a lot of places did have to close due to the Pandemic though it wasn’t on the news.

To check out Tony’s CDs and learn more about him, please visit his site below. 

Enough from me, let’s get ready for the Roaring Twenties!


Tony Monaco may be the best organ player you have yet to hear of flying stealth while playing arguably some of the hottest B-3 around. Mentored by the legendary Jimmy Smith in what is considered the more classic style, Monaco does not swing, smolder or smoke. “Tony Monaco burns is this most fitting!” CriticalJazz Review2012. Tony Monaco began his keyboard life at age eight. When he was twelve, his destiny as a jazz organist was sealed when he first heard Jimmy Smith. An enthusiastic student, Tony began working in Jazz clubs as a teenager in his native Columbus, Ohio, guided by local organ gurus Hank Marr and Don Patterson. Four years later, Jimmy Smith invited Tony to come play at his club in California, a peak lifetime experience for Tony.

In April 2000, Tony met fellow jazz organist Joey DeFrancesco, who offered to produce a debut CD for him. This collaboration resulted in the critically acclaimed “Burnin Grooves”. The international success of the recording served as the catalyst for regional and national tours. Tony has since released 8 International releases and toured around the globe many times. Tony also toured and recorded with Pat Martino for over two years! As an ardent student of the organ, it’s no surprise that Tony is an accomplished teacher as well. In addition to private students, classes and clinics, Tony has produced a series of instructional DVDs titled “Playing Jazz Hammond” that have become indispensable for many serious students of the organ. Tony continues to expand his catalogue using most update technologies. He developed a system of giving lessons one on one online and gives lessons to students around the globe! His passion for teaching allowed him to secure his “Artist in Residence” status at Hope College in Holland Michigan where he teaches students both online as well as regular workshops groups and one-on-ones at the College. Tony is very proud and excited to be releasing his 11th international CD “The Definition of Insanity” on Chicken Coup Records January 2019! Featuring Jam, Funk, Vocals, Italian Traditional and Latin with his current Trio ! Presently, Tony maintains a very busy schedule that includes festival appearances , clinics, and workshops!

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