Musician Wally Jones to play a homecoming concert

— Photo from Wally Jones

ALBANY COUNTY — On May 18, musician Wally Jones will perform at the Gallupville Methodist Church, where decades ago he played “my first-ever note in front of other people,” he told The Enterprise this week.

Jones, who is 82 and lives in Delmar, spent his adolescence in Gallupville after being adopted by a family there in 1947, when he was 5 years old. He spent his youth in the town, and said the church was his “entire world.” The concert is being billed as “Welcome Home Wally Jones.” 

The home he grew up in had a player piano, which he took to in part because it was the only source of entertainment at the time, according to a short biography he wrote. 

“I tried to imitate opera from the radio on that piano as well as selections from an old Methodist Hymnal, which was the only source of written music at my disposal,” it reads.

Jones began taking lessons under two local neighbors, and later became a student of Dr. Elmer Tidmarsh, a Union College professor who established the college’s music department and gave performances at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, according to his obituary

Now, Jones plays 23 times a month, at nursing homes, churches, and, on occasion, the American Legion hall in Delmar. During COVID, he took his performances to YouTube so people could still enjoy them.

Although highly trained, Jones said this week that he “doesn’t just sit there and read music” when he plays. Rather, he incorporates notes he hears in his head that he says come from heaven.

In Delmar, he said, “They call them the Wally notes. I’m hearing things that kind of make the song come to life, touch souls, make a difference.”

He joked that after his performances, audiences aren’t traumatized but “Wally-ized.” 

One of the songs Jones said he’ll feature in Gallupville is a composition he wrote a few years ago called “Meditation.” 

“I was feeling kind of blue one day, kind of down, as we all do from time to time. Nobody’s always up,” he said. “I can feel very much alone in a crowded room, which I think a lot of people can identify with, so as down as I was feeling I wrote this song in the key of D. It’s not supposed to have words, [instead] it will bring you to where you are, to see what you feel.”

He’ll also play a piece from the musical Cats and songs from the Beatles, along with music from his favorite genres, gospel and Christian, closing the show with “God Bless America.” 

Jones will be performing with violinist Michelle Cenci, a frequent partner of his. 

Donations from the performance in Gallupville will go to the local food pantry and the Gallupville House, a historic hotel building that is now a community center. 

“I’m still out there at 82 years old, affecting lives, making a difference and, thank God, I’m retired and doing what I love,” Jones said. 


The hour-long May 18 concert starts at 2 p.m. at the Gallupville Methodist Church at 120 Factory St.

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