by Lola Rossi-Meza
Pianist and vocalist, Johnny Meza, captivates the crowd with his smooth voice and versatile repertoire at Arnie’s Pub in Arnold Palmer’s Restaurant, 78-164 Avenue 54 in La Quinta every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 6:30 until 10:30 p.m. (760) 771-4653.
A native of Southern California, Meza knew at a young age that music would always be part of his life. “My uncle, David Yanez, always had the best hi-fi equipment and played jazz records constantly. That exposure gave me a great appreciation for music at an early age.
“My Uncle Charlie played sax, was a band leader and recorded for Capitol Records. His musical arrangements, as Charles Romo and His Orchestra, were on an album series called “Background Music” in the early 1960s .”
His older brother Jim played trumpet and drums. “My brother would often rehearse in our living room with his friends. That was when I first saw a live band up close. The guitar player in the band taught me how to change the strings and tune my guitar.”
Music runs in his family. His mother played piano by ear for the family during the years he was growing up and his younger brother Anthony, an artist, played drums in his bands.
His nephew Brian is a musician, TV producer and artist along with his niece Noel, who sings, writes songs, plays guitar, and now works as an animator for HBO. His son Justin, who is a post-graduate student majoring in Computer Engineering, plays piano and bass guitar. His daughter Arianna sings, plays a little guitar and drums.
In addition to being an accomplished pianist, Meza also plays guitar, bass, harmonica and drums. He is also a composer, arranger and producer with several CDs under his belt. His song, “Dirty Martini” from his latest CD “The New Standard” reached #26 on the Billboard Smooth Jazz Charts.
After leaving college, where he majored in Music Composition, Meza moved to San Francisco with the band “Horns, Strings and Things” and played five nights a week in night clubs. The band was also the opening act for many Bay area bands like Tower of Power, Santana, Cold Blood, Malo, Pete and Coke Escovedo and a young Sheila E.
In L.A. he played with Stevie Wonder’s backup band Sage. “I got to play a bit with jazz artist George Duke and I did a two-day seminar with Hammond B-3 organ master Jimmy Smith, it was a great experience.” He later moved to Las Vegas where he sang and played piano with the band on Cleopatra’s Barge at Caesar’s Palace.
Moving to the Coachella Valley in 1994, Meza has been busy performing in night clubs, restaurants, corporate events and country clubs. He’s written, produced and performed over thirty radio and T.V. commercials, picking up five ADDY awards along the way.
He, along with vocalist Lola Rossi-Meza, has performed main stage at the Idyllwild Jazz in the Pines, Jazz on the Green, La Quinta Arts Festival, the Coachella Valley Wine Festival and the Palm Springs Jazz Festival, to name a few. They wrote “Flying With Angels” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Angel View. This song, along with four others, is currently being aired on KHCS Radio 91.7 FM in Palm Springs.
You can contact Mr. Meza at JohnnyMeza963@gmail.com.