Life behind bars

A Memoir...

Life Behind Bars, a memoir by Jack DePietro, is the story of a first-generation Italian American who grew up in Nyack, NY, studied jazz drumming at the Berklee College f Music in Boston, and then turned his family’s bar, The Office, into a successful music venue. Between 1975 and 1980 The Office on Main Street in the village of Nyack became a home for the some of the greatest musicians in the history jazz.

Life Behind Bars was ten years in the making. In the middle of it’s creation, I suffered a debilitating stroke, which mentally derailed me – as well as this memoir. The stroke shuffled my memory, as if all my mental files had been spread into different folders. I knew the information was there; I just needed to make new synapses and mental associations to retrieve it. I accomplished this through repetitive activities, both physical and mental, in an attempt to stimulate and trigger all my sense. I listened to music, watched countless YouTube videos, tutorials, and documentaries. I exercised daily, meditated and read. For physical therapy there was nothing better than play my drums, which I did for hours each day. Eventually, I was able to reconnect the dots… and the rest is history.”

~ Jack DePietro


David Fisher, New York Times 12x Best Selling Author
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“When a writer is able to capture a unique personal experience he can bring the reader into a new world. Jack DePietro has invited us into his smoky world, where the cast of memorable characters of his smokey bar meet his world of legendary jazz musicians – as he tries to figure out his own place. This is a journey well worth taking with him”
Fantastic read! Would make a GREAT streaming series!
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Headline says it all. Everybody has a story and some are wilder than others. As great as The Tender Bar is, this is WAY better. Some streaming service needs to lock this down with the quickness.
Jazz History Abounds in Local Bar/Jazz Club
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The book is a solid read for anyone who wishes to have insight into the lives of famous jazz musicians. Jack is a natural storyteller. He introduces so many colorful characters. The book is also interesting sociologically for the various takes on race, gender and class in the 70’s and 80’s. I find myself in rereading it. Highly recommended reading.
Dr. Suzanne Drake
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Life Behind Bars is an easy-to-read page-turner; fascinating, hilarious, jaw-dropping in parts, tragic in others, and heartwarming throughout. I am in awe of the author's ability to remember the names and details of the myriad of characters that crossed the threshold of The Office Bar so long ago. From the legendary to the lowlifes, and everything in between, he paints the complexities of these real-life characters with a brush of Italian neorealism. He seduces the reader into the bar to participate as patrons in the dramas. One of the main characters is the village of Nyack itself, the Greenwich Village of Rockland County. The Office was a euphemism for the next -door Bell Atlantic Telephone Company regulars who "stayed late at the Office.

The youngest of six, Jack's parents struggled to meet the financial needs of their family, leaving little time or energy to supervise him. Jack followed where his interests and talents took him and found his way.

Jack was fortunate in that he learned to tap into some inner blueprint to create himself from within, thus, unfolding a purely authentic sense of self. Nonetheless, opposing forces challenge The Hero on his journey as those dynamics come into play in one's monomyth.

Jack followed his love of music where the circumstances of his life led him. In fealty to his family, Jack left his musical training just before his senior year at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston to tend to his ailing father's gin mill after he had a heart attack. Jack was no stranger to the work. He first assumed the grimy jobs of mopping and buffing floors, and cleaning smoke-stained windows at the bar when he was 10, leaving little time for playing with friends. Emotionally absent as they were, his parents modeled values of hard work, equality, diversity, humility, and generosity of spirit, which likely served as guideposts for Jack.

Yet Jack struggled to quiet the inner voice of his critical, naysaying father. He managed to nullify it long and often enough to forge his entrepreneurial genius in creating what would become one of the premier jazz clubs in the country, attracting such greats as Stan Getz, Bill Evans, Jaco Pastorious, and so many more. A masterful drummer and musician in his own right, Jack had a knack for spotting young talent and showcasing them, thus contributing to the enormous success of “The Office”.

On the surface, this is an entertaining tome of Who's Who in the jazz world of the day. But more than that, Life Behind Bars illustrates those forces of imprisonment for one whose autonomy was a mandate of his childhood and yet tainted, or perhaps tamed by his father's self-doubt. Jack's 'inner pessimist ' ultimately stopped him from taking the most significant professional leap of his life; to Go on a European Tour with Stan Getz.

Life Behind Bars is a story of love, hope, and triumph against all odds. It sets forth the shaping of character and the unfurling of the soul of a boy into a man, resilient and humble, who accepted and adapted to the sea changes in his life, endeavoring to let his inner guidance lead. He moved beyond his circumstances, observing, and even participating in the decadent excesses of life in the 70s and 80s, an era of sex, drugs, rock, and jazz. Along the way, he found the love of his life, great mentors, and learned to harness the power of bad examples. He survived and thrived by creating enriching relationships based on compassion, generosity, equality, and justice, within the vessel of his Felliniesque brainchild.

Most astounding is how he managed to bring these scenes to life and continue his chronicles despite having had a stroke in the meantime! I look forward to a cinematic version of “Life Behind Bars”.
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I'd love to hear from you!

Jack DePietro is available for concerts, book signings, lectures, podcasts.

Contact: 917-733-3149
EMAIL: jackdepietromusic [at]