For George Mesterhazy, home is sitting behind the Baby Grand next to Tim Lekan on bass and Bob Shomo on drums - and it's still as fun as it was a decade ago.
"We've been playing for 11 years now," Mesterhazy says. "And every night, I still marvel at what a joy it is to do. It's not old, it's not stale."
On Friday, Jan. 6, the popular George Mesterhazy Trio will head to Sandi Pointe Coastal Bistro to once again headline the annual Somers Point Jazz Society Benefit Concert, offering their infectious mix of classic jazz, Brazilian and fusion music to help raise funds for the non-profit organization.
This time, the trio will be joined by a special guest - jazz pianist Barry Miles.
"Barry is one of my childhood heroes, and he is kind enough to share in this," Mesterhazy says. "We're still making up our minds on what to do. Do we want to do Brazilian stuff? Do we want to do fusion stuff? He was quite famous as being one of the first with fusion."
Mesterhazy, 55, laughs as he recalls the time Miles was pointed out at a club in California and referred to as "the grandfather of fusion."
"Grandfather," Mesterhazy says with a laugh. "Barry's only, like, five years older than I am."
Playing alongside Miles, Mesterhazy says, is a treat for him as a piano player.
"We always play well together, we always enjoy it," Mesterhazy says. "And most of the folks who frequent Sandi Pointe, they already know what they're in for. There will be a traditional jazz trio playing, like we always do. I'll definitely dip into some Brazilian music because I love it so much. I think it will be a nice night out."
Mesterhazy, who grew up in Somers Point - his father's home is about a mile from Sandi Pointe Bistro - says there is something special about coming back to play in his hometown, especially after a rough year personally that included a fire at his restaurant, The Merion Inn in Cape May.
"I feel a real connection to Somers Point," Mesterhazy says. "I have a soft spot for that neighborhood. It's a very warm feeling and it really feels good to be there. They're thankful for (the jazz society). They know how important it is to have that cultural experience."
As for what jazz fans can expect on Friday, Lekan, the trio's bassist, says just about anything.
"I do know that there will be a lot left undecided, and I like it that way," Lekan says. "The trio has great chemistry and communication. George and Barry are great friends and have great respect for each other's ability. We all have had an opportunity to play a lot together, so the communication is at a deep level. There is always the opportunity for unexpected and great things to happen. It is our biggest fundraiser, and we need it to be successful for us to do what we do. In the last six years, we have contributed over $31,000 to arts and music programs in Somers Point."
Nick Regine, president of the Somers Point Jazz Society, says jazz fans can expect a great show.
"George is a great pianist, but also a great accompanist," Regine says. "He always makes it nice. With him and Barry Miles - a very well-respected and nationally known jazz pianist - the combo of the two of being together makes it really special.
"And for us, it's a way for us to try to reach out to people and have them help us out when we find ourselves in a depressed economy. Money is drying up everywhere for the arts. You have to depend on the people who appreciate and enjoy what we do."
That's what keeps Mesterhazy coming back to support the organization.
"For my hometown to build (the jazz society) up and be very successful is really great," Mesterhazy says. "But it doesn't have the kind of funding that a Cape May Jazz Festival has. Somers Point, it's like the little choo-choo train that could, and that's something I'm really proud of."
Harpist at Appel Farm
Singer-songwriter and indie harpist Gillian Grassie will bring her music to Appel Farm Arts & Music Center 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6.
Grassie, an award-winning indie harpist, has sold out shows from Philadelphia's Tin Angel to The Matador in Siberia. Grassie delivers literary lyrics with an expressive, soulful soprano over a blend of jazz, folk and pop.
Grassie will be appearing as part of Appel Farm's "FirstFridays@theGallery" series. Auburn Road Vineyard & Winery will serve free wine to patrons older than 21. Audiences also are invited to bring their own beverage of choice to the performances. Coffee, tea and water will be provided free.
Appel Farm Arts and Music Center is located at 457 Shirley Road in Elmer. Tickets are $10. Call 800-394-1211 or go to www.appelfarm.org.
Cape Shore Chorale Concert
The Cape Shore Chorale, directed by Scott J. Breiner, will present its Epiphany Concert 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8, at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. Selections will include "Part IV" of Bach's "Christmas Oratorio" and other seasonal music.
The church is located at 30th St and Bay Avenue - 2998 Bay Avenue - in Ocean City. Donations will be accepted. Refreshments will be served after the concert. For more information, go to www.capeshorechorale.org.