10/05/2010 Scranton Times-Tribune, Feature story , 'Scranton native to perform concert from personal music album'

Published: October 5, 2010

West Scranton native Jack Woodbridge will give an encore performance Saturday at St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

Often, the most inspiring music comes from the darkest reaches of the soul.
Certainly, that was the case with "Jack of Hearts," the album West Scranton native Jack Woodbridge churned out during 10 of the most harrowing days of his life.
In June, the New York City-based singer/songwriter performed the album at St. Luke's Episcopal Church. The show was such a rousing success he's coming back to do it again.
On Saturday, Mr. Woodbridge will give an encore performance of "Jack of Hearts" at 8 p.m. at St. Luke's, 232 Wyoming Ave.
Tickets to the show, which is being presented by PocoNotes, are $20 in advance, $25 at the door and free for children under 12. A portion of the proceeds will go toward St. Luke's arts programming.
Just as he did at the June show, Mr. Woodbridge will be signing copies of his CD at a post-concert reception. Last time, the line was so long with family and friends that the session lasted two hours.
"The response was incredible," said Dolores Hippler, who runs PocoNotes with her significant other, Pat Harper. "He's such a mild mannered guy, but you can't help but talk to him without being engaged by him."
"He paints word pictures," Mr. Harper said.
The genesis of "Jack of Hearts" came in 2006, when Mr. Woodbridge was taking part in a clinical study at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. There, doctors discovered he had an extremely rare tumor in the bottom of his spine, a condition known as Carney's Complex.
Having the tumor removed would require experimental spinal surgery, which came with a host of possible life-altering ramifications.
"They didn't know what the outcome was going to be. They knew this tumor was attached to a lot of important functions of my body," said Mr. Woodbridge, who has composed two Off-Broadway musical scores and a rock opera for National Public Radio in addition to hundreds of other songs. "I knew I was in deep water."
Mr. Woodbridge only had 10 days to go back to New York to get his affairs in order before the surgery. Naturally, the news left him with all sorts of troubling thoughts swirling through his head.
But then, one night, he had this vivid dream in which he was lying across a grand piano, "and the piano was floating," he said. He took it as a sign that he needed to create music, and do it fast.
"I thought, now I know what I'm supposed to do with my 10 days," he said.
From there, Mr. Woodbridge contacted his producer friend, Dean Bailin, who worked on Rupert Holmes' 1979 hit, "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)," and set aside time at a midtown Manhattan studio.
"I said, 'I'm just going to play and sing all of these songs,' and he knew exactly where I was coming from," Mr. Woodbridge said. "Then, in case something happened to me, we could continue to produce the album anyway."
In the end, he banged out 12 highly personal songs on the piano before going back to Washington for the surgery.
The surgery worked, and, though he now lives with chronic pain and had to go on permanent disability - he worked at CNN for 18 years - Mr. Woodbridge is in a good place, inspired by his "Second Chance," the name of one of the songs on "Jack of Hearts," and the tune that originally turned Mr. Harper and Ms. Hippler on to his music.
"They picked up on the message of the song," he said. "Everyone resonates with this song in their own personal way. They think that it's inspiring."
Contact the writer: jmcauliffe@timesshamrock.comIf you go
Who: Singer-songwriter Jack Woodbridge
Where: St. Luke's Episcopal Church, 232 Wyoming Ave.
When: Saturday, 8 p.m. (doors open at 7:30)
Details: Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the performance and free for children under 12. They're on sale at Duffy Accessories, 218 Linden St., The Fanciful Fox, 342 Adams Ave., and online at www.PocoNotes.com. There is a special "two-for-one" advance ticket offer for those who attended Mr. Woodbridge's June show.